Communications evaluation – 2009 trends

December 23, 2008 at 6:08 pm 3 comments


Last week I gave a presentation on evaluation for communicators (pdf) at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. A communicator asked me what trends had I seen in communications evaluation, particularly relevant to the non-profit sector. This got me thinking and here are some of the trends I have seen in 2008 that I believe are an indication of some directions in 2009:

Measuring web & social media: as websites and social media increasingly grow in importance for communication programmes, so to is the necessity to have the capacity to measure what their impact is. Web analytics has grown in importance as will the ability to measure social media.

Media monitoring not the be-all and end-all: after many years of organisations only focusing on media monitoring as the means of measuring communications, there is finally some realisation that media monitoring is an interesting gauge of visibility but not more. Organisations are now interested more and more in having some qualitative analysis of data collected (such as looking at how influential the media are, the tone and the importance).

Use of non-intrusive or natural data:  organisations are also now considering “non-intrusive” or “natural” data – information that already exists – e.g. blog / video posts, customer comments, attendance records,  conference papers, etc.  As I’ve written about before, this data is underated by evaluators as everyone rushes to survey and interview people.

Belated arrival of results-based management: Despite existing for over 50 years, results-based management or management by objectives is just arriving in many organsations. What does this mean for communicators? It means that at the minimum they have to set measurable objectives for their activities – which is starting to happen. They have no more excuses(pdf) for not evaluating!


Entry filed under: Communication evaluation, Development evaluation, Evaluation methodology, PR evaluation, Social media monitoring, Web metrics.

And more on measurement of social media New guide to evaluating communications for non-profits and foundations

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Trends for 2009 « Mixotricha  |  January 2, 2009 at 9:03 pm

    […] is the list of my sources : trendspotting toptrends scdsource businessweek intelligent measurement trendwatching vignette Ross Dawson Emarketer Econsultancy […]

  • 2. David Phillips  |  January 9, 2009 at 8:50 pm

    There is one element we are very bad at which is the nature of network exchange and influence.

    A lot of what we measure and evaluate is based on client driven message analysis. In the network messages morph and change but still have influence.

    Work being done by Bruno Amaral in Portugal may well help. His work is on the nature of and drivers behind relationships but he has used blogs for his corpus which is revealing the power of the networks and this morphing effect.

    Equally, we are not good at doing things from the analysis we have. Some friends of mine are full of enthusiasm for the numbers of references there are in different social media relating to organisations. But what to do with them? That is the questions. So many just cry out for interaction.

  • 3. Glenn  |  January 13, 2009 at 8:36 am

    Thanks David, I agree completely. Most measurement of social media stops at counting posts and comments – and as you say we need to look at the influence and network exchange aspect. Further, the use of evaluation results continues to pose problems for many organisations – we have not fully worked out how to take such an analysis and bring about changes in what is being done – in communication activities and in the organisation as a whole.


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