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    From NetGain: NetGain Update April 2003: Performance Measures for Communicators ================================================== Published by NetGain: We
    Message 1 of 10 , Apr 22, 2003
      From NetGain:

      NetGain Update
      April 2003: Performance Measures for Communicators

      Published by NetGain: We build the blueprint for eCommunications.

      What's inside...

      1. Measuring More Than Jelly On The Wall
      2. Getting Endorsements Through Linking Strategies
      3. It's How Much You Don't Spend That Counts
      4. What Are You Worth To Your Company? Find Out In Our Next Webinar
      5. This Month, NetGain Consultants...
      6. About NetGain
      7. About This Newsletter

      1. Measuring More Than Jelly On The Wall

      by Tudor Williams, ABC

      Someone once commented that measuring communication was like nailing jelly to the wall. But it is not. At least you can see the jelly on the wall and can watch it as it slips slowly away from the nail. If we continue the analogy, we measure communication, not by catching the jelly but by assessing the stain the jelly left on the wall -- how much of it stuck and how long it stayed there. In other words, we are measuring the outcomes of what happened without visibly observing the output of the event itself.

      For many years, organizations were content to measures the outputs of communication, how many newsletters were published, how many "impressions" or column inches were created, or the size of the audience reached. But in a world where accountability matters, it is the outcomes that are important, the extent to which we were successful in achieving our goal. The output is but the means to achieve successful outcomes not success itself.

      The currency of communication is influence and the outcomes we seek through influence are changes of behaviors and attitudes in support of our cause. The business performance of communication is measured by the economic, social or political impacts of these changes. The performance of the professional communicator is measured by the success of the strategies devised to change attitudes and behaviors.

      The measures we use are found in the outcomes we seek. We set out to influence attitudes and behaviors to achieve one or more of a number of outcomes.

      * We create alignment of audiences with our vision.
      * We build the support of audiences for the corporate goals we set.
      * We foster commitment of audiences to our priorities, services and products as we earn their loyalty.
      * We strive for optimum productivity and profitability.

      The political arena is a good example of creating alignment, building support and fostering loyalty. A good politician first builds awareness and understanding for the cause. Then the politician develops the support of the constituency for the cause. At the end of the day, success is measured by how many votes are actually cast in favor of the cause. Votes come from commitment, shared values and loyalty that evolve from the awareness, knowledge and support gained.

      Along the way, we measure how well our audiences understand our cause, the degree of support we have and the satisfaction earned with our deliverables. All these measures are indicators that tell you how you are performing. And success is the outcome measured by the decision to purchase, the decision to support or the decision to join.

      Three critical success factors are emerging that are primary drivers of performance in communication today:

      1. Strategic focus -- building support and commitment for our strategic priorities

      2. Credibility -- consistency and accuracy in the way we present ourselves and our organizations to the world

      3. Respect -- the trust and accountability in the relationships we build.

      Where performance counts for more than a jelly stain on the wall is in each of these three areas. It is here that many organizations and leaders are struggling today. It is in these three areas, strategic focus, credibility and respect, that communication is measured as the core of successful strategy.


      Reach Tudor at mailto:tudor@...

      2. Getting Endorsements Through Linking Strategies

      by Pete Shinbach, APR

      In public and investor relations, we spend a lot of time chasing the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, also known as the third-party endorsement. Entire media and analyst relations programs are built around getting that trade magazine, Web site or Wall Street guru to say favorable things about our products, management, stock or organization. And, for some of us, our performance goals, and the compensation that’s tied to achieving them, are measured by the quantity and, in most cases, quality of those third-party endorsements. But they’re one-shot deals. You get a hit in the paper, a mention on the evening news or some snippet in an influential blog and then have to start all over again with a new pitch or angle that’ll whet the reporter or analyst’s appetite. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a way to establish relationships with the most influential Web sites, e-mail news digests, blogs and other online publications so you don’t have to always be churning out new ways to get your messages in front of the right eyeballs? Guess what? There is.

      It’s called a linking strategy and it’s something that too few online communicators have as part of their online programs. Basically, a linking strategy is a systematic way to build good links from someone else’s site to yours. If you do it right, that “someone else” is going to be one of those third-party endorsers whose good words you’re seeking. So, aside from that, why invest the time to develop a productive linking strategy? Consider these five reasons:

      1. Most people find Web sites by following links, either from search engines or from other Web sites. If the people you’re trying to reach see a link to your site on a Web site they trust, what does that say about you?

      2. Search engines, like Google, give sites with good inbound and outbound links higher rankings on their search result lists. So, the more sites that link to yours and the more sites you link to, the higher your ranking by the search engines.

      3. Assuming that you’re producing really excellent content on your site (your content is excellent, isn’t it?), others will want to link to you because that means they won’t have to reinvent wheels, producing their own similar content.

      4. If you integrate a linking component in your overall online communications plans, you’ll be forced to ask yourself an extraordinarily important question: “Why would anyone want to link to my site?” Being able to answer that will help clarify your online value proposition? Not being able to answer it means a trip back to the drawing board. Regardless, one of the reasons anyone would want to link to your site is because your site has outstanding content.

      5. Finally and most importantly, you’ll become part of the club, the network, the community. Your site or newsletter will become one of those sources your influentials will refer to when they need trusted, up-to-date, verifiable information.

      All of which leaves two questions. First, how do you execute a linking strategy? We’ll get to that in the June & July issues when we’ll tackle the issues of managing and benchmarking communications strategies.

      Second, what’s a linking strategy have to do with performance measurement? Consider that a well thought-out linking strategy can

      * Validate assumptions made at the beginning of the year about which media sources are the most important to your organizational goals and help identify the more important Web sites to go after as third-party endorsers;

      * Show you how consumers, investors, job applicants, customers and other employees are finding your Web site, thereby providing you with one more way to measure how well your online communications program is performing; and

      * Complement your other online initiatives like e-mail newsletters, search engine optimization strategies, online advertising and promotion and Web-based discussion forums.

      So, if the hyperlink is the key to the Web, which it is, doesn’t it make sense to capitalize on the potential of this important tool? Committing to developing and maintaining a good strategic linking program is the first step to creating a powerful communications tool that can produce highly measurable business and online communications performance results.


      You can reach Pete at mailto:pete@...

      3. It's How Much You Don't Spend That Counts

      by Shel Holtz, ABC

      As a measurement evangelist, I can spout off any number of reasons and means to measure the effectiveness of your performance as a communicator. Company management, however, keeps coming back with one question: What's the impact on the bottom line?

      There are two basic approaches to answering this question:

      1. The impact of communication cannot be identified on a balance sheet. Communication produces intangible results. Internally, it generates improved productivity and heightened employee commitment. Externally, increased awareness and favorable perceptions result from good communication. Communicators should be evaluated based on these valid measures and not the bottom line.

      2. If you acknowledge the bottom-line value of reputation, you can determine the value of communication by assessing its role in improving your organization's reputation. (This is the approach taken by The Reputation Institute with its Reputation Quotient; you can read more at http://www.reputationinstitute.com.)

      There is a third approach that can be more meaningful than either of these, particularly if you are appealing to the bean-counters (or people with bean-counter mentalities) who need to understand the value of communication in dollars and cents. That approach is called "cost avoidance."

      Here's how it works. In 1992, the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) assumed leadership of a three-year-old boycott of Mitsubishi, the Japanese industrial giant. The boycott ran eight years as Mitsubishi attempted to fight perceptions that the company's ecological policies were disastrous. In order to put the boycott behind them, the company capitulated on several points. Ultimately, the company spent about $6 billion, according to an estimate from American City Business Journals. Some of that money was spent fighting the boycott, most on agreements like reducing the use of paper and packaging in products like the 1 million TV sets it sells in the U.S. each year.

      I don't care how big your company is. Six billion has gotta hurt.

      Now compare Mitsubishi's experience to that of a consortium of nearly 20 companies that spent much of the end of the 20th century exploring for natural gas in the Camisea region of the Peruvian rainforest. This group spent nearly $250,000 on a Website that went into excruciating detail about the project and even offered a message board where visitors could debate the merits of the effort. The PR people who built the site worked with the Rainforest Action Network to ensure the site addressed all the questions and issues environment-minded visitors might have. The result: Not a whisper of protest over the project, which was ultimately abandoned as economically unfeasible.

      Now compare. On the one hand, you could spend $6 billion fighting and then giving in to a boycott. On the other, you can spend a quarter of a million explaining your organization's actions to those who would boycott in terms they understand and appreciate. How's this for expressing the value of your efforts: "Thanks to our communications, our company didn't have to spend $5.75 billion."

      Okay, so that's a stretch. But the point is valid. Communications don't make money for the company, but they can certainly help the company avoid having to spend it -- not only on boycotts, but also fighting legislation or regulation, labor actions, bad press, lawsuits, and a host of other costly activities. (You could even add that to the value of your improved reputation.)

      The Camisea case study is particularly intriguing since RAN is currently opposing a new natural gas project in the Camisea. The focus is mainly on Citigroup, the project's financial advisor. A search of the Citigroup site reveals not one word about the project. The site of Hunt Oil refers to the project but says nothing about environmental concerns. You have to wonder how much they'll wind up spending that good communications might have offset.


      Reach Shel at mailto:shel@...

      4. What Are You Worth To Your Company? Find Out In Our Next Webinar

      "Define Your Value, Build Your Credibility" is the topic of the next NetGain Webinar, which begins on May 12. Subtitled "Measuring business performance for internal communication," the Webinar will help you identify and measure precisely what communication is adding to the bottom line.

      Register at http://snurl.com/value
      Get details at http://webinar.holtz.com/synopsis/measure.htm.

      5. This Month, NetGain Consultants...

      * Continued work on intranet and Web assessment and development for a major Canadian healthcare district.

      * Agreed to provide strategic planning for a global pharmaceutical company.

      6. About NetGain

      NetGain is a group of high-end communications consultants who work with leading companies and associations to help them achieve strategic communication objectives using online technology.

      NetGain delivers onsite and online consulting and professional development programs. For information, send e-mail to mailto:info@....

      To find out more about NetGain, send an e-mail message to mailto:info@....

      7. About This Newsletter

      Was this issue of the NetGain Update useful? Did it give you a new idea or two you can use to improve the way you use electronic information tools? Maybe even a new service you can offer your clients or employer to help them succeed. If it did, we've succeeded. If it didn't, just wait until the next issue.

      NetGain UPDATE is a monthly newsletter published by NetGain, a consortium of independent communications technology consultants. Each article in this newsletter is copyrighted by its author. Feel free to share the NetGain Update with your associates, clients, managers or anyone else you think would benefit from it. And remember, anyone can sign up for a free subscription at our Web site, http://www.netgain.org.

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      * For more information on the newsletter and your subscription options, send an e-mail message to mailto:HELP-NGUpdate@...-publisher.com.



      Jim Rink
      1705 Mansfield
      Birmingham, MI 48009

      (248) 792-2247 hm
      (313) 336-1513 wk
      (586) 946-0049 cell



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