In every communication department whether in-house or agency, public or private sector making every penny count has never been more critical. This is about more than just making savings or being careful with the finances. It is about showing the true value of communication activity and what has been achieved.
Evaluating the impact of communication is notoriously difficult and there are many different views about how it should be conducted. For some it is about the advertising value equivalent, or opportunities to see, for others it is about measuring whether there has been behavioural change. It is often the thing that gets overlooked when teams are busy and trying to deliver everything that is required. There is just not enough time to do evaluation as well as the day job.
When budgets get tight the cost of evaluating activity may also mean it doesn’t happen. So, even if you do have time then you may not have the money to be able to secure external support. It is very easy when faced with these difficulties to just continue with the status quo doing what worked in the past and hoping that it is having an impact.
I have written many times about how the challenge of having little or no budget can bring out creativity and innovation. Now is the time to do things differently and try new things to communicate. But also to make sure the evaluation will show whether the new things have had an impact. The arrival of social media has brought with it many tools and applications that can help with measuring the impact of activity. And while there is no one tool that will do everything for you there are many opportunities that exist to use a little bit of time to consider whether your communication is making a difference.
As we are faced with more months and possibly years of dwindling or non-existent budgets it is critical to show that any money is being used in a responsible way. It is understandable that there will be further scrutiny of whether communication is having an impact and whether it is value for money. There can be no hiding place for communication professionals who must be able to explain what they have done and why, and have the relevant facts and figures to back things up.
During this week I have spent some time considering both how to evaluate the impact of communication and also questioning how the small budget that I have is being used. I am grappling with this every day and it has to be at the forefront of my mind with every activity. It is not a ‘nice to do’ rather it is a ‘critical to do’. Evaluation has to be prioritised so that every action can be justified, and so that every penny will count.