How to spot hidden measurement resources
By Angela Sinickas, ABC, Diva of Diagnostics
You may be putting off measuring the effectiveness of your communications for what seem like good reasons:
- No time.
- No budget.
- Lack of research expertise.
- Lack of management support.
Here are four ways to overcome these those obstacles.
1. Recruit volunteers.
Even if you are a staff of one, you can create a temporary team of research assistants.
- Give your friends and colleagues a short list of telephone survey questions, the names and phone numbers of five to 10 randomly selected individuals to call, and a tally sheet for responses. This won’t take much of their time, and if you have enough friends, you can contact enough respondents for statistical validity.
- Use your editorial board to gather input from their colleagues on questions you give them about communication.
- Find an administrative assistant looking for more interesting work and a chance to move ahead.
- Find employees who are pursuing degrees in communication part-time, but are currently working in non-communication jobs. They may be eager to help to gain knowledge that will be useful on their resumes — and to have you as a reference one day.
- Hire an intern.
- Contact a communication professor at a local university. Your research could become a class project.
2. Use other people’s budgets.
To spot potential dollars for your project:
- When your department hires temporary help for another project, tap into that person’s down time to make calls, tally survey responses, etc.
- Tap your information technology department’s library of software, which may include some for measuring the usage of intranets or websites. If they don’t, they may be able to order it for you out of their own budget.
- If your organization has an ongoing contract with an outside research firm, PR agency or human resources consulting firm, you may be able to use some of the budgeted money for help with your own research projects, especially near the end of the year if not all the allocated funds have been used.
- Build small research steps into existing projects that have already been budgeted. For example, if an intranet site is being developed, add some questions about how aspects of the site are working into the pages themselves.
- If your function acts as an internal consultant, when you’re developing production budgets for your client departments’ projects, build in some extra money for pre-communication research and post-communication measurement of success.
3. Borrow other people’s expertise.
While you may not know much about conducting a survey yourself, you probably have access to internal and external resources you may not be tapping. (Of course, they may want to borrow your own expertise in exchange for theirs!)
- Someone in your human resources department may have a degree in organizational development or industrial psychology and can advise you about focus groups and surveys.
- Your organization may have an in-house market research function that can help with internal research.
- Find a colleague at another company who has conducted several research projects and solicit his or her help in developing your own research tools.
4. Be sneaky.
For bonus points:
- As you walk around, make phone calls and send emails as part of your regular job, ask one or two questions “by the way” about communication and tally them on a log sheet you keep with you at all times.
- Invite a group of 10 to 12 people to join you for free pizza at lunch. In exchange for the food, you’ll ask them some questions. Voila! You’ve just conducted a focus group.
- Befriend project managers of already authorized research projects being developed for your target audience and get them to include some questions you’d like answered on their survey or in their focus group discussion guide.
By no means is this an exhaustive list, but I hope it gives you some ideas you can use to get started on some measurements of your own. And when you provide your management with the findings of your informal research, they very well may be intrigued enough to provide more resources and support for more formal research.
Angela Sinickas, ABC, is president of Sinickas Communications Inc., an international communication consultancy specializing in helping corporations achieve business results through targeted diagnostics and practical solutions.