The following is part of our most recent publication released online, "IC in 2017 & 2018 FROM HOPE TO REALITY How Far We've Come | The Road Ahead." Looking back at their greatest hope for the IC profession in 2017 in terms of where the discipline should be, 21 communication professionals from different countries answer two questions: How far have we actually come in 2017? What remains to be done in 2018?
Lee Smith, Co-founder of Gatehouse, shares his views on the progress made these past months, to what extent he believes his hope has translated into reality, and what remains to be done in 2018. To read the views of all contributors, download the free 42-page eBook here.
My biggest hope for the IC world is that we finally learn to embrace measurement and evaluation. We have seen a slight improvement in recent years. The number of practitioners conducting some form of measurement has increased a little since we first started our annual State of the Sector review of the IC space nine years ago, but the approach remains fairly unsophisticated for most and non-existent for many. Without measurement, we are working in the dark professionally, unable to demonstrate our true value and blind to the effectiveness or not of what we do.
How far we've come. What's next.
We will have more evidence in January, once the results of our 10th annual State of the Sector study are released, but my sense is that we have made good progress on measurement and evaluation this year. As an agency, Gatehouse has done more research work this year than ever before – a sure sign that people are taking measurement more seriously. We have done a record number of IC audits during 2017, and judging by the number of enquiries coming in over the last few weeks, this trend is set to continue long into 2018.
We have also been supporting many clients with regular tracking research, particularly pulse surveys, and much more sophisticated and regular upward performance reporting. Meaningful budgets are now being allocated to research and evaluation, which is fantastic to see. These are all very positive signs! I have also been delighted to see more professional events focused on this topic and more people talking online about the need to get this piece right. Also, on a purely tactical level, IC teams are now much more interested in analytics and data and are going out of their way to select channels that provide insight. That said, there’s still a long way to go and many practitioners still have their heads in the sand when it comes to measurement.
We need to keep up the pressure! Effective research and evaluation is at the heart of our desire to be a robust, professional and respected business function. Without insight, we are working blind. Without evidence we cannot prove our value. If we don’t track our progress against outcomes, how do we know we’re making a difference? If we don’t have baseline measures, how can we demonstrate progress? If we don’t show how we’re contributing to the success of the organisation, how can we hope to survive? It’s great to see more practitioners stepping up to the mark and asking these questions of themselves and their internal clients. We need to be brave in our budget conversations and fight to win.
Measurement and evaluation is not a nice to have, it’s absolutely vital. We need to put our necks on the line and be accountable. Instead of waiting to justify our existence when the next round of budget cuts comes, be proactive and report on your contribution, regularly. There is no excuse for not doing it. There are so many accessible tools and so much free knowledge out there, it really is time to just do it! I carry this hope with me into 2018, but I really do think we’ve turned the corner.
Click here to download the free 42-page eBook "IC in 2017 & 2018 FROM HOPE TO REALITY How Far We've Come | The Road Ahead."
Co-founder of Gatehouse