Evaluating communication – 1 of 4 key lessons

last week I had the opportunity to present to a group of communicators from human rights NGOs at a True Heroes Films workshop in Geneva.

One of the main themes I spoke about was on lessons for evaluating communication campaigns and programmes based on my own experiences of having being involved in some 100  evaluations in this field.

I identified four lessons that I believe apply for all communicators, non-profit or for-profit, particularly taking into account the challenges faced of limited resources.

My first lesson was “Planning is key“.

For communicators, planning is often seen as a necessary burden before they get on to the exciting stuff – actually doing things! Communicators often jump straight into doing activities, i.e. setting up a website, organising an event, issuing a press release, etc. without actually fully thinking through the purpose of the activity – why are we doing this?

So to have a clear strategy and plan is key – before starting:
-Does the situation merit to communicate (analysis)?
-What do you want to achieve (objectives)?
-With whom (publics)?
-How (activities/tactics)

Thinking about this before you communicate will make evaluation so much easier – and possible!

That was lesson no. 1. And lessons 2-4? Wait for my next posts!


October 12, 2015 at 4:51 pm Leave a comment

Measuring the impact of journalism 2

We don’t often read or hear about measuring the impact of journalism,  as I’ve written about previously.

Well, on this topic, here is a very interesting article from Stanford Social Innovation Review that goes quite in-depth on the subject.  They talk about measuring reach, impact, engagement and influence together with providing examples and initiatives underway in this area.

View the article here>>

September 22, 2015 at 9:11 am Leave a comment

Barcelona Principles 2.0 launched

Developed five years ago by International Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC) and partners, the first  overarching framework for effective public relations (PR) and communication measurement (“Barcelona Principles”) has just been updated. See the infographic below that illustrates the changes.  Read more about the changes here.


September 15, 2015 at 12:10 pm 1 comment

Evaluating global campaigning – example of HLP advocacy

From evaluating global campaigns and advocacy projects we naturally learn a lot about the challenges and obstacles faced at this level.

I recently carried out an evaluation for  Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) on their programme-based advocacy initiative on housing, land, and property (HLP) – the evaluation report is available online (pdf).

This was a very interesting project as it both aimed to bring about policy change at the local (national) and global levels to strengthen the HLP rights of displaced persons, some of the key learnings for global campaigns and advocacy that I’d highlight were as follows:

– the positive results seen in combining country and global level advocacy with country-level cases providing substantive evidence for the global advocacy;

– the importance of achieving change within the organisations carrying out the advocacy, particularly when they are carrying programmes in the given sector (in this case, assistance and support for displaced persons);

– the balance between going alone on or building broader alliances for advocacy initiatives;

– the need to follow up advocacy initiatives and treat advocacy not as “one-off” events or activities but as activities that will need to be monitored and supported until the given objectives are met.

The evaluation was carried out by Patricia Goldschmid and myself for Owl RE.


September 1, 2015 at 6:48 am Leave a comment

5 tips for increasing survey completion rates

From the SurveyMonkey blog, a useful article on increasing survey completion rates.

Based on an analysis from 25,000 surveys, some of their conclusions state the obvious (i.e. the longer the survey the lower the response rate….) but here are five tips from the article I found useful:

  1. Starting a survey with an open-ended questions reduces completion rates
  2. Starting a survey with a simple easy-to-answer closed question will facilitate completion rates
  3. Placing open-ended questions towards the end of the survey is better than at the start of the survey
  4. A matrix or rating style questions doesn’t reduce completion rates – but too many of them do
  5. Each additional word in a question text has a direct negative effect on completion rates

View the full article here>>


August 18, 2015 at 10:03 am 1 comment

SEVAL Annual Conference 2015 and Pre-Conference – Geneva, 3 – 4 September 2015

 As part of the 2015 International Year of Evaluation, the Swiss Evaluation Society (SEVAL), is organising its annual conference in Geneva, Switzerland. The conference will be   preceded by a pre-conference event organised by the Geneva Evaluation Network. These events will be a unique occasion to meet with evaluation specialists from around the world and discuss about challenges regarding evaluation capacity development, independence and other topics.

Further information (pdf) >>

Registration >>


I hope to see some of the Swiss-based evaluators there!

August 11, 2015 at 9:56 am Leave a comment

Beyond online vanity metrics

Here is a very interesting study (pdf) from the Mobilisation Lab on what counts and doesn’t for online metrics and campaigns.

The study looks at what they call “vanity metrics” for online campaigns that they define as “data that are easily manipulated, are biased toward the short-term, often paint a rosy picture of program success, or do not help campaigners make wise strategic decisions”. Examples of vanity metrics include: number of petition signatures; web traffic, number of “opens” (of emails I guess).

So what do they recommend campaigns should be measuring?

They have plenty of good suggestions and insights. Here are some of the metrics they mentioned that could be more significant (and possible to measure online):

  • Monthly members returning for action
  • Actions per member (rather than size of lists)
  • Number of members actively part of a campaign

View the study here (pdf)>>

July 28, 2015 at 8:28 am 1 comment

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