This article was originally published in 2015 and has been completely updated in 2020.
As communicators, we invariably have to battle to prove the worth of our activities in dollars. Here’s a case study of how US consultant Angela Sinickas helped one client to prove the value of her internal communication.
A division of the former Pharmacia Corporation had identified five goals. One was to increase sales of their highest profit-margin product, a goal they exceeded. They did this without increasing the advertising or PR for this product, or by changing the sales incentive plan. The main method used was increased internal communication, especially with sales employees.
To demonstrate that employee communication had led to the achievement of the company’s sales goal, the vice president of employee communication had arranged for consultant Angela Sinickas to survey employees at the end of the sales period. The survey included three levels of questions:
The results were compelling:
The numbers were even stronger among sales employees who were the primary target of the communication:
The client used the survey numbers to calculate a return on investment of 279%, based on the entire cost of the communication function that year and the research conducted.
This communication campaign received an IABC Gold Quill Award of Excellence, and the communication function’s budget was tripled the following year.
Go to www.sinicom.com for some very useful articles about proving the use of communication to achieve operational results.
This case study shows how low-cost, and even no-cost, measurement can clearly prove the value of a communication activity. The communication manager can easily develop a survey questionnaire and distribute it to the relevant employees.
In the above case, the survey related to sales activities, but similar quick surveys can be done internally for powerful results. For instance, you can easily ask these two simple questions for employees to fill in (anonymously):
The questions could also be included in annual HR/communication surveys that many organizations conduct.
The findings from this type of survey are usually quite compelling and show overwhelmingly the need for better internal communication.
You can then go to senior management and demand greater attention to internal communication by tabling this proof with them. Obviously you would need to be tactful about how you go about it because there is a danger that the managers surveyed would become enemies for life as you have shown them up!
Article updated in 2020.
By Silvia Arto, Vice President of the Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management, Chair of the European Regional
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