Lt. Col. Ann P. Knabe, Ph.D., APR+M is an Air Force Reserve public affairs officer assigned to the Pentagon. As a civilian, she is a full-time PR instructor at the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater, and works as a senior PR counselor for BVK.
Capt. Jason T. Hasbrouck, is chief of opinion and research, Air Force Public Affairs. He directs quantitative media research and analysis for Headquarters Air Force Public Affairs, helping to shape its communication strategy.
Karin Drinkhall, APR is team lead, communication assessment services, Office of the Chief, Army Public Affairs. She has worked as a Department of Defense contractor in the field of public affairs, strategic communication, and assessments for nearly a decade.
I discovered our three Measurement Mavens of the Month all at the same PRSA International Conference presentation. Here’s the story…
If you listen to enough measurement case studies, and if you are a proponent of compliance with measurement standards, then you learn to mentally duct tape your mouth shut when most presenters get to their results. 75% of the time those results are completely unconnected to the objectives. And chances are pretty good that earned media value or ad value equivalency will be mentioned somewhere.
So imagine my delight when I sat in on a session at PRSA 2014 moderated by Lt. Col. Ann Knabe, who led us through two fascinating case studies of how they do measurement in the military. Both included excellent integration of earned media content analysis with survey research. The best part was that all of the measurement (they call it “assessments”) described in the session were entirely in compliance with measurement standards.
The first of the case studies was presented by Karen Drinkhall, representing Barbaricum and the work they have done for the Army. Using a combination of human coding and primary survey research, they demonstrated the impact of their communications activity on the degree to which they communicate key messages in earned media, as well as the degree to which their stakeholders remember and are influenced by those messages. The beauty of their system is that it transcends all the different tactics that are used, and focuses specifically on the outcomes. Even better, they routinely do pre/post surveys to test the level of awareness. They also use audience/stakeholder quotes in social media as a proxy for message awareness.
Next was Capt. Jason T. Hasbrook, chief of opinion and research for Air Force Public Affairs. While the methodologies differed from those used by the Army, the work was just as sophisticated. They also conduct assessment at every step in the process, both monthly and quarterly. Much of what they do is internal communications, and so they are constantly surveying the airmen to determine shifts in attitude, beliefs, and knowledge over time. The surveys are tailored to the specific audiences, by geography and specialties. They use the surveys to increase efficiency and effectiveness.
For example, one survey was used to find out where airmen get their information. As it turned out, the source that the communicators spent the most time on was the one that was most rarely used. Most information is passed down through the normal chain of command, and few airmen were watching either the webcasts or the videos. Their use of Twitter was also shaped by survey research results, since they discovered that most airmen don’t use it at all. Instead the communicators used Twitter to reach their external publics, as when they promoted the Air Force’s anniversary using the #TT (Throwback Thursday) hashtag.
The only scary part of the session was when I congratulated them on being in compliance with the standards and they admitted that they didn’t even know there were standards. Congratulations to our new Measurement Mavens of the Month. ∞