In continuation of last weeks article on the exploration of frameworks and methodologies for qualitative and quantitative measurement of communications, I use an archaic magic term of Apotropaic magic (from Greek “to ward off” and move “away” or “to turn”). The measurement of communication is to draw a contrast to the observances of measuring communication out of tradition.

Communication effectiveness is one of many dimensions of PR quality, and some argue that it is the most crucial. The appropriate definition and measurement of communication effectiveness is ongoing, given that the there is a constant evolution in methodologies of corporate communications and in dissemination technologies. Tradition of PR and Corp Comm styles and practices, unfortunately are the source of some contention and a fair amount of confusion to an effective management of communication measurement. 

The evolving paradigm of an effective framework of measurement of communication require both a knowledge resource and communication tool. In terms of qualitative and quantitative assessment of the effectiveness of communication, the term quality is broadly used as a catch-all term that encompasses the many aspects of what makes a communication strategy “good”. An effective measurement must include communication effectiveness, performance, and success. The term effectiveness, on the other hand, is more narrowly defined, with a focus on contributions to communication outcomes, but it too can be productively measured. 

The first of the frameworks that X-Axis explores consists of the components: 

  • Communication Planning – pertaining to quality and effectiveness
  • Goals – pertaining to the parameters of the reach 
  • Quality – pertaining to communication quality and effectiveness 

The essence of an effective communication policy relies on two basic components that form and take shape during the planning or forming the strategy phase. 

  1. concerted stakeholder involvement, 
  2. careful selection of communication channels. 

In any effective communication strategy the involvement of all the stakeholders is essential not only to take into account the different perspectives but also to ensure the credibility of the final set of measurement variables. The selection of the communication channels is now a days a very routine exercise of the function of corporate communications. The first measure is the effectiveness of the communication strategy vis-a-vis the acceptance of the communication by the intended audience. Within the context of accepted or traditional mode of measuring communication effectiveness involves two diverse scenarios. Drawing from the components stated – the first is that of measuring the intended message. The second is that of measuring the media which expose the message to the consumers. 

The design of the message or the strategy helps to determine whether the intended audience will pay attention to it, whether they will look at it or hear it, whether they will understand it, whether they will remember it, and ultimately whether it will affect what they do. These variables aside the media chosen for the message–newspapers, magazines, radio, television, outdoor posters, card, direct mail, and so on, also help to determine the same things. Much of the development of the framework on communication effectiveness has centred on ‘output’ measures and the message’s weak or strong effects. This cause and effect has now become the bedrock of understanding the ‘process’ measures to better understand the communications process. 

Normally these are classified in the theoretical concepts of 

  1. Dimensions of Integration and 
  2. Continuum of Integration

Notice how, there is a drastic change in the language of the process. From the combination of the stakeholder involvement and selection of communication channels to a repetition of integration.  This is the magic or the “Apotropaic” to ward off or turn to course correct from traditional practices to one more relevant with emphasis on linking qualitative and quantitative measurement of the effectiveness of communication. An effective measure is based on the link of communications activities to outcomes including statistical analysis (collecting, evaluating, and drawing conclusions from data) of intangible assets, or non‐accounting, non‐financial drivers such as people, ideas and relationships. While still being based on the measurement data, including media content analysis data and survey results.

It is in this thin differentiation that the variables of the measurement can be drawn out and classified on the following points.

Validity – the degree to which the interpretation of a measurement is supported by the evidence. Validity must be considered within the total context of the assessment. 

Comprehensiveness – the richness and breadth of a measure, metric, or model of a concept. 

Credibility – the extent to which a measure is considered sound and appropriate among
a variety of stakeholders. It is important to note that credibility can be bolstered by involving stakeholders in the development or validation process. 

Generality –  refers to how well one metric or model of quality can be valid and useful across a variety of contexts. 

Practicality – the extent to which the measure or model of quality is usable for practitioners.

Reliability – the consistency with which an assessment measures the construct(s) or dimensions that it purports to measure. A note of caution, just because the assessment is reliable, it may not be valid—that is, it may indeed be measuring something reliably but not the dimension of communication quality that it intends to measure or that the user believes it is measuring. 

In the coming articles, these data points will form the formation of an effective communication measurement strategy.

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Amit Paul
With over two decades of diverse experience, Amit has worked closely with corporates, industry houses, academies and institutions helping them bridge the learning divide and implementing management solutions, focussing on the geographies of the Middle East and the ASEAN region.
Currently he is the Principal Consultant at NAC Singapore, and works on the confluence of technology and safe living focussing on building safe and smart cities.

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