From a practitioners’ perspective, the 2017 International Public Relations Research Conference (IPRRC) paper presented by Sean Williams, Julie O’Neil, Stacey Smith, and Michele Ewing is the best new thing in the world. (That’s the four of them to the right, along with Tina McCorkindale, President and CEO of the Institute for Public Relations.)

The paper reported on research intended to answer two fundamental questions that have plagued internal communications managers for years:

  1. What should internal communications measurement standards include?
  2. How should those standards be defined?

The standards the paper presents are based on a Delphi study, two years of effort, and a worldwide collaboration between academics and practitioners. Participants in the study had to have a minimum of ten years in the communications industry and had to have been responsible for internal communication for at least five years. In addition, the researchers presented the potential standards to more than 150 communications practitioners and academics at three international conferences to gather additional feedback. The results were then distilled into the standards presented in the paper.

The biggest takeaway was the absence of some metrics that have been nearly universal in internal communications measurement: all the “output” metrics, such as email opens and click-throughs, as well as the eponymous if poorly-defined “engagement.” The consensus was that the former wasn’t a real measure of impact and the latter was embedded in many of the other metrics.

Instead the group focused on:

  • Outtakes, e.g., awareness knowledge, understanding of messages, and retention of information;
  • Outcomes, e.g., changes in attitude, collaboration, team work; and
  • Organizational impact.

Here are the standards:

[table “ICStandards” not found /]

(Thanks to gerault on Pixabay for the image.)

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