The three O’s that will make your campaigns and programs the best they can be

We need to talk about measurement and evaluation. Most of us usually tune out when it’s brought up. People find measurement and evaluation too expensive, too time consuming, too difficult, too boring, or think that what they are doing is impossible to measure.

We need to stop thinking this way and we need to start seriously thinking about measurement and evaluation. It doesn’t have to be a difficult or boring topic, trust me. Incorporating measurement and evaluation can help you deliver better campaigns and programs and help you to prove your worth to clients and management. You can use the findings from measurement and evaluation to discover what is working in a campaign or program, and what isn’t working, and apply that knowledge to future campaigns or tweak current ones.

Political campaigns have been doing this for years, with Obama’s successful 2012 campaign utilising online-based analytics: Team Obama was able to see what voters wanted and determined what was and what was not working.  Based on social media engagement and reactions, email openings and click-throughs, pivots and course redirections were made as required to get maximum results and a Presidential win. All because of analytics.

So, this post is going to break down part of the fourth step of our methodology, “Execution and Evaluate”, and show you how to effectively measure and evaluate any activity and maximise your outcomes.

First, you need to figure out what you’re going to measure.

To do this, goals and objectives need to be established at the beginning of the campaign or program. This is how you will determine if what you’re doing is successful.

What’s measured revolves around the three O’s: outputs, outtakes and outcomes.

Outputs: This is the absolute basic of measuring, and looks at what materials or products are produced. This could include the number of media releases, blogs and social media posts created.

Outtakes: This is the second tier and involves looking at what resulted from the outputs. It could include measuring social media/website engagement, media coverage and sales statistics. Outtakes are usually just hard numbers and statistics.

Outcomes: This is the most advanced form of measurement and involves investigating if and how goals and objectives were met and what behaviour changes occurred. This could include who voted for a certain party, who stopped protesting, or who started protesting. Outcomes usually involve qualitative data and is the type of measurement that you should strive to do when you can. It’s the type that shows the true impact your campaign/program had.

Things you could measure:

  • Sales statistics
  • Social media reach
  • Media impressions
  • Social media engagement and shares
  • Lead generation
  • Website traffic
  • Brand mentions
  • Opinion polls or surveys
  • Changes in behaviours, attitudes or opinions
  • Media tonality
  • Audience awareness

Once you know what needs to be measured, you have to actually do it. Thankfully today there are plenty of tools out there to help with this step, from free ones integrated into social media platforms and websites, to paid-for tools that gather information both on and offline, giving you the full picture in one place. Remember though, it’s not always about more resources, but about effectively utilising what you have.

In one of our podcasts, we sat down with Jenna Bradwell, who manages the University of Sydney’s social media platforms which have over half a million followers. All by herself. She doesn’t use expensive third-party tools to track how well the posts are doing, she utilises the inbuilt analytics and insights that the social media platforms provide.

“Most of it’s done through the internal Facebook analytics and Instagram insights,” Jenna said. Later, she added, “In terms of technology, it’s me with an iPhone and that’s it,”.

These offer enough for her to understand what posts work, what posts don’t and what she can change and how. She’s able to evaluate how many people acted when they saw a post, including website click-throughs and figure out the return on investment.

As her work is focused on social media, this all makes sense. You don’t need third-party tools if you can use the tools already provided on social media platforms.

Beyond social platforms, you can look at Google News to see media coverage. While it may not capture everything, as it is dedicated to online news, it gives an idea of what is being said and by whom. Google Analytics also offers a free service that can provide data on your websites or blogs, including how many people are viewing, where are they from and how long are they staying on your pages.

It is important to note though, that these tools don’t often account for the tonality of coverage (positive, negative, neutral etc) or add qualitative data to measurement.

If you do have the option, you could use third-party measurement and monitoring tools. There are several on the market, so you can find what works best for you and your campaign. These tools usually gather information from various platforms at once, both online and offline and tell what tonality the campaign/client is being discussed in and how competitors are being talked about.

A quick note on some misconceptions.

  1. Qualitative data means just as much, if not more than quantitative data

While it’s good to have hard numbers and statistics, numbers don’t always show if you’ve met your goal and objectives and can, in isolation, fail to demonstrate how and why behaviour changes happened. Qualitative data makes the numbers more impactful and adds greater meaning and value to work.

  1. Advertising Value Equivalent (AVE) isn’t as significant, or as useful, as it used to be

The communications industry needs to stop using AVEs as a measurement tool/method for media outreach and public relations work. Simply, AVEs are the multiplying of column centimetres or inches of an editorial in print media coverage and seconds of broadcast coverage by the media advertising rates. This means that editorial and broadcast coverage is valued like it is advertising. The industry has argued for decades that we need to not use this as a way of showing worth and value, yet a recent survey found that a third of UK agencies still use it. There are far better ways of measuring and evaluating.

But why shouldn’t we be using AVEs? The best and primary reason is that advertising and public relations work can be difficult, if not impossible, to compare. While they often have the same goal of increasing awareness, they approach it in two completely different ways. Advertising is under complete control of the organisation creating it. They choose the copy, the messaging, the images, the colour and even the placement in an outlet or social media advertising. Facebook Ads even allows organisations to pick out what interests the people looking at the advertisement should have when showing their ad. Messaging can’t be lost when you do advertising. With media outreach and public relations, you are at the mercy of the journalist who’s reporting on the campaign, and there is no guarantee that they will report key messages or even that they will write in a positive tone. Therefore, a 2inchx2inch advertisement is not worth the same amount as a 2inchx2inch editorial. AVEs aren’t a reliable or accurate way to measure impact or outcomes.

 Want to know more about how you can get the most out of your campaign and implement measurement and evaluation?

Have a look at AMEC, they’re the communication industry’s leader in measurement and evaluation and contain a wealth of knowledge and resources to help you better understand how to approach it.

The Barcelona Principles 2.0 also offer good guidance for approaching measurement and work as the 7 commandments of measurement and evaluation in communications.

We’ve also produced two podcasts that address measurement and evaluation that are a must-listen. Our own David Pembroke discusses our methodology and using audience measurement, and in another podcast, Jenna Bradwell talks about how she manages a social media account with half a million followers.

Key takeaways

  1. Be sure to have a set of clearly laid out goals and objectives
  2. Figure out what you need to get out of your measurement and evaluation, and then pick the tools which will help you succeed
  3. You don’t always need more resources, utilise what you have
  4. Things you can measure include social media engagement, media impressions, leads generated and audience awareness
  5. Qualitative data will often demonstrate you’ve achieved your goals and objectives better than quantitative data
  6. There are better ways to measure that doesn’t include AVEs

So now that we’ve broken down measurement and evaluation, it doesn’t seem as difficult, or as expensive, or even as boring as first thought, right?  Use the tips, tools and techniques to go forth and measure and evaluate, and create the most successful campaigns and programs you can.


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