Measuring Communications Across Markets

May 1, 2018

Being based in Singapore, I meet regional communications directors who are responsible for programs in multiple geographies and languages. Yet, they have limited budgets to measure the performance of their communications programs. Such complex measurements are so daunting that many of these communications directors stick to the old formula of counting clips and impressions, and sadly, their equivalent advertising values.

Setting up a smarter way to evaluate your program’s performance, in one market or many, doesn’t have to drain your resources. Here are five steps for developing a multimarket measurement system for your communications program.

Conduct an audit

What are your communications activities in each market, and how are you measuring them? Across Asia, different markets have different levels of sophistication. Best practices within some markets can often be shared and reapplied in others. During an audit for a client, we discovered that in one market they had already created a survey to measure changes in perceptions among participants at an industry conference.

By distributing a card with a quick-response bar code that led to an online survey when scanned with a smartphone camera, they received a strong response rate after the conference. And by asking some questions consistently (such as those in the Net Promoter Score surveys, which ask people how likely they would be to recommend a company or product to friends and family), the client could compare results over time.

Establish goals 

Before setting up any measurement method, clarify what the communications program aims to achieve. Goals may vary from market to market. In some, the brand might be a new entrant trying to grow awareness. In others, it may already have achieved strong penetration but need to increase usage.

If you have different communications objectives across markets, then make sure your metrics address them. Key performance indicators for each market should align with market priorities.

Create a measurement scorecard

Determine metrics to track progress toward your communications goals. At Ketchum, we have developed a framework that evaluates the impact of communications along the stakeholder journey — first by measuring exposure to the program, then engagement, and then audience awareness and perceptions.

Choose methods

The measurement tools and methods you choose should align with your goals. Effective measurement requires a customized approach, but the following means of collecting and analyzing data apply to many programs and are not necessarily costly.

Earned media: To be meaningful, media analysis must be both qualitative and quantitative. If outside help is cost-prohibitive, set up a system that lets your in-house teams or agencies assess media coverage in their markets. A well-designed coding template can efficiently analyze coverage and assign predetermined values to indicators of quality coverage — such as when key messages and images are included, company spokespeople are used, tone, etc. Measurement data can then be combined at the regional level to report results.

Shared and owned media: Many valuable “social listening” tools are available that monitor social media conversations for mentions of your brand or your competitors, and then extract insights. While it’s hard to find one platform that works perfectly in all geographical areas and languages, basic tools track trends and identify potential opportunities and threats. At the very least, data from your company’s own website and social media channels can be measured, usually at no cost, through analytics tools.

Data from other parts of the business: Within our clients’ organizations we often find a wealth of data stuck in departmental silos and inaccessible to communications teams. Try to sleuth out what data exists and then analyze it for potential value. By re-cutting data from one client’s brand-tracking survey, we were able to identify sub-groups of consumers who had been exposed to the communications program, and then assess its impact on them.

Connect the dots

As a final step, join these metrics together in a narrative. How has the program fared against its goals? What has its overall impact been? Even when a causal link to business results cannot be proven, can we demonstrate a clear trend that validates the communications program’s contribution to the business?

Beyond proving the value of communication, a good measurement system also provides lessons for the future. Dive into the results and search for meaning. And remember that regardless of the amount spent, evaluation is worthless unless it can be used to continuously improve your communications efforts.

Ruth Pestana

Ruth Pestana is director of strategic planning and insights at Ketchum Global Research & Analytics. Now based in Singapore, she leads the group’s capabilities in Asia. Formerly vice chairman for the North American chapter of the International Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communication, she has experience in global research and planning that spans the United States, Europe and Asia. Email:


Robin Mayhall, APR says:

Ruth, thank you for an excellent article. This is one of the simplest, most straightforward discussion about PR measurement that I've seen.

May 4, 2018

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