comms measurement

How to measure comms the Harvard way

Pete Marcus

27 Jun 2017

To say that measurement has been a thorny issue for communications agencies for many years would be an understatement. But a lot of this debate, in our view, has been unnecessarily complicated and fuelled by self-doubt, confusion and misunderstandings. At Harvard, we take a straightforward approach to how we measure what we do. The short answer is simple: there’s no one-size-fits-all answer that works for every client, but there’s definitely a measurement framework that should apply in all circumstances. Our framework is pictured below. It’s based on the industry-standard model agreed by AMEC in 2016. We’ve just tweaked it to fit with the way we work and what our clients tell us they want. Harvard comms measurement The framework itself isn’t complicated. The guiding principle is that evaluation isn’t something that’s detached from the rest of the work we do for a client – it’s integral to it. And it isn’t something hurriedly put together after the campaign is finished – it’s planned and agreed up-front, before the work is started, and measured throughout to provide feedback and allow for tweaks in activity along the way. This all starts with how we plan. For every client at Harvard we create what we call a GOSTE – a single plan that maps out the business goal, the communications objectives, the strategy and the tactics that will deliver it, and crucially what we will evaluate as we go along. For the evaluation element, we talk with our client about what it is they really want to achieve and select the right metrics from there. For some campaigns, it might be all about getting some specific messages in front of their key audiences. For others, it might be about bringing sales leads into the business. Our measurement framework gives us the flexibility to choose from a menu of options, tailoring evaluation to the individual campaign. But the key thing is to understand the objective of the work and ensure the evaluation metrics are aligned to it. Then we need to benchmark those metrics at the beginning of the work, to understand the baseline we’re starting from, and go from there. By building evaluation into the comms plan like this, we can ensure that everyone – agency and client alike – are agreed on what we’re trying to achieve and therefore what’s important to measure. Simple, straightforward and clear. Like all the best things in life, measurement shouldn’t be complicated. Check out our planning and strategy page to learn more about our approach