Communications evaluation – get started with measurable objectives

By: Jessica Jones, Director, Social Development Communications, Employment and Social Development Canada

Headshot of Jessica Jones
Jessica Jones

Setting measurable objectives is absolutely essential for effective communications planning and evaluation.

Maybe you are looking to measure the success of your next announcement or campaign, or you might even want to measure your communications activities on the macro/organizational level. Whatever the scope of what you are trying to measure, the first step is to figure out why.

The “why is essential because you can’t measure anything if you don’t know what you are trying to accomplish. There are lots of potential key performance indicators (KPIs) out there, but they are meaningless without context. Try this approach:

  • Your communications objectives should directly link to your program, institutional and/or government objectives. Use this simple but effective model: Communicate with whom about what to why. [See How to set communications objectives presentation (accessible only on the Government of Canada network)]
  • Focus on what you want to change. For example, maybe you want to increase the number of applications, or improve employee retention, or want people to support a program.

Once you know why, choose your KPIs. Performance indicators describe what you will be evaluating. These should be based on three broad categories:

Including a mix of indicators will help you determine if your communications succeeded or not. For example, maybe you reached your audience, but the messaging wasn’t well-received. Maybe people thought your message was amusing, but they didn’t act on it because they didn’t take it seriously. Collecting a variety of indicators will help you make better decisions in the future.

Evaluation is guided by the goals and objectives you set early in your planning. That’s why it’s important to define clear, measurable benchmarks in your communications plans, activities or strategies. If you have benchmark data, or data related to a similar activity, use that information to establish meaningful targets. If not, simply note that you will use this activity to establish a benchmark.

Setting measurable objectives and developing KPIs takes practice, but after a few times, you’ll be a pro at sorting through the research and getting to the point of what you are trying to communicate and why.

Remember that evaluation is most effective when it’s an ongoing, systematic process. Find more tools and resources to help you with your #GCComms evaluations planning at the links below!

Page details

Date modified: