How can we value internal communication?

About the author

Kevin is a co-founder of PR Academy and editor/co-author of Exploring Internal Communication published by Routledge. Kevin leads the CIPR Internal Communication Diploma course. PhD, MBA, BA Hons, PGCE, FCIPR, CMgr, MCMI.

When I ask students how much measurement of internal communication is done, the short answer is not much.

This was reinforced in the research that I did with Sean Trainor last year, when we asked practitioners about the current state of practice.

So, does measurement matter? I think it does as it’s fundamental to showing value and establishing professional practice. The problem is what to measure and how to go about it.

There has been a vigorous debate about return on investment (ROI) of internal communication recently in the CIPR “Inside out – Employee communications & engagement” LinkedIn discussion forum. Though I believe in measurement, there are limits. For example, proving a financial ROI is not a very robust approach because of the many other variables that are always involved. The discussion generated a range of diverse views and it was good to debate the issue openly, which is what professional development is all about.

Last year I did some analysis of how we generally go about valuing internal communication. This has now been published in Public Relations Review. My conclusion is that when measurement is done it is primarily focused on the volume of communication and channels, rather than content. Internal social media measurement is going the same way. There is also very little connection of internal communication measures to employee engagement measures.

Of course, one of the problems about measuring internal communication is that employees are over-surveyed, mainly because of the big annual engagement survey. Instead of spending considerable sums of money on the big engagement survey that tells you what you already know, it is better to conduct internal communication surveys that correlate to engagement so that you then know where to focus efforts in ways that will increase engagement.