Measurement, Schmeasurement – I’d Rather Dance

Sandy Cokeley, APR
CEO, SCoPE School Surveys
School communicators are terrific dancers. We glide, jump and sashay quickly back and forth between two worlds – art and science.
On the art side, we get to be creative with our words, images and events based on what our gut tells us about our audiences and what we are trying to accomplish. It can be both fun and unnerving at the same time. On the science side, we plan our communications based on research and measurement. We evaluate whether we’ve been successful using many of those same tools. While sometimes fun, it is often unnerving.
So, how do we get to that magical place – the best of both worlds? One key is understanding how to effectively measure throughout the communications cycle. Key to this understanding is differentiating between a Process Measure and an Outcomes Measure. Here is the down and dirty difference.
Process Measure: The success of a tool, tactic or process
Examples: Attendees to an event, hits to a webpage, positive comments on a post, favorable press coverage
Outcomes Measure: Whether the tools, tactics or processes achieved the overall goal
Examples: Heightened awareness, increased understanding, more YES votes, higher enrollment
How are they connected? Tools, tactics and processes are the substance of our communications plans to achieve our goals – what our research tells us we need to do based on who we are trying to reach and what we want them to know, perceive, or do. (Note that practitioners often measure process because it’s easier.)
Our challenge becomes aligning the effectiveness of our processes with our outcomes. Can we determine that more hits to a webpage result in heightened awareness? Do more attendees to open houses yield higher enrollments? The pure scientific answer is to track the measures over time to see if those correlations and causations exist. We can also look to secondary research where causations have been proven and we adapt our practice accordingly. The bottom line, trusting your gut usually is not enough.
Through measuring both your processes and your outcomes, you can find that sweet spot where your art meets science. You will know if that slick new app is doing the job or if it needs to be tweaked a bit more. If it is, you get to move on to the next art project. And then, go out dancing.

SCoPE School Surveys: Taking the Guesswork Out of School Communications
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