What Comes Next? Empathy, Trust and Authenticity: How to Measure Yours


The Paine of Measurement, May 2020—Welcome to the third issue of The Measurement Advisor, COVID-19 Edition. I would love to be writing about something completely different, but having sat in on a million Zoom calls and heard the questions and concerns of hundreds of professional communicators in the last few months, it’s pretty clear what is on people’s minds: how to make the best of a bad situation. (As Tom Rush so brilliantly sang it.)

Challenges bring opportunities, and measurement provides tools to help find those opportunities.

Measurement, yes, but just what measurement?

As we wrote last month, research is definitely the best solution to the crushing uncertainty with which we are trying to cope. But the question is, exactly what should you be measuring? It’s not enough to fall back on comments or shares or even clicks. What is far more important to know is the why:

  • Why is one story or piece of content or online conference more popular than another?
  • Why is it that one brand lost loyal customers while other brands attracted more?
  • Why are some of your customers coming back and others aren’t?

We know we have to do things differently and try new ways of getting our messages out there, but what types of messages are winning this particular race? Is it bold new ideas? Consider Colby College, which decided to give every graduating senior the best graduation present ever: a job. Within a week hundreds came forward to help. They found great jobs for dozens of graduates, spiked alumni engagement with the college. and garnered a lot of great media attention in the process. Of course the ultimate measure of success — will it generate more qualified applicants and potential revenue? — remains to be seen. But clearly it’s working so far.

Or does sticking to your knitting work just as well? As it did for Microsoft, who has long embraced empathy as a core value of the company. While so many other companies laid off hundreds of workers, Microsoft continued to pay their hourly employees, even if they weren’t needed. It too received widespread praise for its actions.

Empathy, trust, and authenticity: this is your opportunity to gain — or lose

What both of these actions have in common is that they increased trust in the brands. They weren’t just publicity stunts, they addressed a problem, solved it, and in the process enhanced the brands’ reputations.

Far too many other brands are losing trust, either because they are hiding information from the public or because they seem to ignore reality, pretending that nothing unusual is happening. Or they’re thinking so short term that they forget the long term consequences. For instance, when you lay off your work force they lose their health insurance.

To navigate through all this miasma, we really need to go back to basics and review how we measure and evaluate our performance on the fundamentals of our public relationships. Here are articles from our previous issues on how to measure:

For this month’s issue we pulled together some follow-ups to those, and a few new directions:

Stay healthy and measure on,

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