Communication Measurement Is Antiquated: It’s Time for a Revolution

The Paine of Measurement

While everyone else is looking back at the last decade, we have the gift of being able to look back on the last three decades of measurement. So, in this issue of The Measurement Advisor we provide you with more than just the long view of measurement history. We also provide the insight gained from that view: It’s time for a revolution. Read on…

Three decades ago, I started reading and analyzing clips for sentiment, messages, and the usual stuff. (Read about it in “Katie Paine’s Three Decades of Communication Measurement History.”) Essentially, that’s what most of the industry is still calling measurement. The tools have changed a bit, but it’s basically the same process. But the way we communicate today has changed dramatically in the last three decades, and yet, the way we measure our results hasn’t. Imagine checking your barometer to figure out if its going to snow next weekend. The bigger problem is that while you’re tapping that barometer,  the folks that control your budget are checking their phones for the latest NASA weather forecast. It’s time for a revolution.

Everywhere you look these days people are taking to the streets demanding change. So here at The Measurement Advisor we figured we’d grab our own pitchforks and join the rabble. Read our Measurement Revolution Manifesto here: Use business metrics, not bad metrics!

Like some of the current presidential candidates, I’ve been saying the same thing for 30+ years. The difference is that I am thoroughly sick of offering the same advice.

For me, there should be three outcomes from a measurement revolution:

  1. No one will ever measure another tweet, like, or placement. Instead we will only measure our collective efforts against our strategic priorities, and show the extent to which we contributed (or didn’t) to the organizational goals those priorities support.
  2. Employee communications will never again measure an email, a newsletter, or an Intranet post. Instead, management will only assess the extent to which internal messages are consistently communicated, believed, internalized, and acted upon.
  3. Events and promotions will ignore attendee counts and invitation response. Instead, they will focus solely on the degree to which the event achieved its business objectives.

The journey from the backwoods of our current methodologies to this bold new future is not a short or easy one. It’s only navigable if we embrace all the new technology the industry has to offer, use it wisely and only when it helps us communicate better. Keep the end goal in mind and stop getting distracted by all the shiny new objects.

It is fitting that in this January 2020 issue of The Measurement Advisor, we take a look back at the previous year, or decade, or, in our case, three decades, because that’s how long I have been doing communication measurement and writing about it. So, in this issue you will also read:

An exploration of the many parallels between my career and the progress of measurement: Katie Paine’s Three Decades of Communication Measurement History

Another review of the history of measurement, this time from the point of view of major trends:  Significant Measurement Industry Milestones of the Last 30 Years

Your guide to staying sane amidst the media maelstrom: 5 Expert Tips on How to Survive 2020’s Overwhelming Media Onslaught

The worst of the worst: The Most Dastardly Measurement Supervillains of the Last 30 Years

Our pick of the crop of measurement articles of the past month: Your January 2020 Communication Measurement Reading List

And of course Daphne Gray-Grant’s Rapid Writing column: Living the Writer’s Life Not Behind the 8-Ball

Measure on!

Image, with apologies, from Eugene Delacroix, “Liberty Leading the People.”

About Author

Katie Paine

I've been called The Queen Of Measurement, but I prefer Seshat, the Goddess.