Pandemic Priorities: Measure the Human Connection

The Paine of Measurement, June 2020

In times of huge social change, the tendency is to think that all the “old normal” has vanished and there will be a “new normal” any minute. As with everything else, it’s not nearly that black and white.

A few months ago our existing assumptions were blown up, and replaced with a steady state of uncertainty. That new normal meant we had to struggle with what we needed versus what we wanted. And then, just when we were getting that figured out, we saw horrific examples of police brutality followed by protests in the streets, and another new social normal emerged. And now COVID is back, worse than ever. As communications professionals, many of us in PR are used to dealing with crisis and change, but few have been prepared for the level and intensity we have seen thus far in 2020.

** Visit this page for a list of our articles on how to measure internal communications. **

** Visit this page for a list of our articles on COVID-19 communications measurement. **

This issue of The Measurement Advisor was supposed to be about helping communications professionals deal with—and of course measure—what consumers will need and want in the months and quarters ahead. I spent a lot of time thinking about those behavioral shifts as I myself adapted.

Here on the farm, stay-at-home orders meant that I had to decide what I really needed, e.g., prescription medicine, coffee, soap, toilet paper, vegetable seeds, etc. Fortunately they could all be purchased from the safety of the computer in my kitchen. Many other consumers have discovered this. And a big piece of the new economy is that those shopping habits won’t change much, now that they have become routine.

Then there are the things that I need in my life, but may not need right now! Concerts, dance parties in my living room, watching Measurement Summit attendees learn how to take apart a lobster… all things I will do as soon as the epidemiologists say it is safe. Until then, I really don’t care what phase of the pandemic we are in, or how much I may want them. I, and many others like me, won’t risk anyone else’s health by doing them—as is now evidenced by the lack of customers in many commercial establishments.

Finally, there the things that we need as humans: the need to be appreciated, and be heard. The needs that were made so clear by the protests filling the streets in thousands of communities around the country and the globe; the need for social justice, respect, freedom of expression, and equality.

That’s what this issue is really about. We still need employees to be engaged and we still need contact with our peers.  So we are tackling two major subjects: measuring diversity and measuring virtual events.

Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) began decades ago as the economy heated up, unemployment dropped, and organizations became desperate to attract and keep talent. All that mattered, and, frankly, all that was measured, was how many “diverse” employees you could attract and keep. Now that the unemployment rate has hit record highs, there’s less need to attract talent, and a far greater need to keep customers and shareholders from boycotting you for your D&I delinquencies. So we offer guidance on measuring how effective you are dealing with the internal and external ramifications of your D&I programs:

The other human imperative that has emerged in the time of COVID is the need to stay connected with and learn from peers and colleagues. We are all dying to hug our friends. Hell, at this point we are dying to hug people we haven’t seen in years. But those reunions at conferences and trade shows and even company meetings aren’t anywhere in the near future. Instead they are being replaced with endless Zoom and Teams meetings that we are all starting to dread.

The good news is that, as usual, technology is coming to our rescue with better platforms that offer virtual versions of the back rooms and meetings that were the main raison d’etre for most conferences. But they aren’t free. Making a virtual event memorable and effective—hell just making people pay attention—requires effort, energy, and budget. So how will you know if your virtual meetings and conferences are working? Measurement of course. For which we offer two helpful posts:

We also identify some people you need to emulate, like Rebekah Jones, our Measurement Maven of the Month.

And some people and services you really need to avoid, like Data Companies that “Predict” Consumer Behavior with Questionable Data.

Then there are some things we think you really need to read: Your June Communications Measurement Reading List.

And some habits you might want to pick up 5 Very Good Reasons to Limit Your Writing Time — and Liberate Your Productivity.

Mostly we really want you to enjoy your holidays, and try to stay healthy, sane, and measure on,

Photo by Matthew Kosloski on Unsplash

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