I would focus on an intended outcome and then have shared responsibility. For example, if increased inter-departmental communication is a way to gain internal efficiencies, focus on those efficiencies. I would hesitate to make them tactical KPIs such as number of meetings held or communications sent. These become "check the box" activities and don't get to the intent of the goal. Now increasing those communication mechanisms will help achieve the goal, I don't believe they should be the focus on KPIs.
Anonymous, you might take a look at this free report:
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I would suggest common KPI's like biz retention and new customer satisfaction. I have seen these work, especially with quarterly performance to plan sessions.
Along the same lines as Linda mentions: We use an Associate Satisfaction Survey that is emailed out quarterly with a link to take a survey. It asks culture related questions to gain feedback more than once a year when we sent out our Culture Survey (another great tool designed to gain associate feedback at all levels on current company status, opportunities, and threats; we intentionally ask question about communication and "Us vs them" behaviors). Customer Satisfaction is an excellent one.
This will be industry specific to some extent. Certainly consumer oriented business or a business to business orientation will drive different metrics. We are a business to business organization.
Thinking about the customer care thread discussed we do have metrics related to that. The external goals do have some tactical measures (number of face to face meetings, number of customers who say they are strong positive references) in addition to financial goals.
Internally we focus less on metrics than inter-dependent compensation plan criteria. For example our Customer Care Manager's goals and our Industry Practice Leader's goals overlap in ways that makes them need to work with each other.
I agree with Nicole on focusing on the desired outcome and Christie on the value of external research.
External Corporate Communications can be broken down further into external communications/marketing functions, you have corporate branding, identity, an effect on investor relations, media relations, issues management and crisis communications, to name a few, all with different desired outcomes and therefor KPIs.
The marketing communications function of corporate communications typically gets the lion’s share of the corporate communications budgets, because it has a measurable effect on revenue. Of course, functions that increase revenue are typically better funded. KPIs may include cost per lead, leads to sales ratios, volume of leads, etc.
Back in the old days, media pick ups of PR efforts meant something as a KPI. For the last 15 years or so, media pick ups are relatively meaningless as it generally includes a lot of fluff press release sites. The real measurement often comes from resulting web site traffic and conversion into leads and sales, making ROI particularly easy to measure and the top KPI.
Changes to brand value attributable to corporate communications projects or micro efforts are in my experience often assumptions based on assumptions and not, in my opinion, great KPIs for individual projects. Sometimes, those assumptions get measured by changes in stock price. This is especially true in crisis communications and investor relations. Even then, separating the communication from the fact itself is tricky to parse. Example; an analyst call where difficult issues are well-handled and the stock moves up. Is it only the underlying data and information that caused the stock movement or to some extent the communication of the data in the best possible way? If it’s both, where is the line and what part is attributable to corporate communications alone?
Long story short, some things are easier to measure than others.
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