I’ve written before about how important listening is to any communicator. How can we know what our client or organisation needs if we don’t first actively listen and ask questions to align our activities with the business purpose? And how do we know how to best reach our audiences without listening to their needs?

But listening doesn’t stop once the communications strategy is delivered. It doesn’t stop after we’ve implemented the tactics. We need measurement to help us keep our ears open to any feedback along the way, any adjustments we need to make, and, crucially, to know whether our efforts produced the intended results.

Creating meaningful measurement is often one of the biggest challenges we face when writing a strategy. It’s impossible if we haven’t clarified our purpose and created meaningful, measurable goals. Evaluation isn’t just a section to sprinkle on top of a plan; it has to be baked in from the beginning.

To help with that, the International Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC) has a free interactive tool to walk you through the process for a plan. I won’t promise that it’ll make it easy as pie, but its accompanying “Lewis wheel” image makes intuitive sense to me and the whole process will get you thinking about measurement from the start. Which is when it needs to happen.

The AMEC site has resources to walk you through the tool, and, if you register, it will save your work and present your content in the framework. Or there’s a PowerPoint version if you’d rather skip all that interactivity.

The framework doesn’t ignore output — those seductively easy-to-measure things you produced — but it focuses on the impact of those things to the audience and to the organisation.

There’s a European flavour to the language (out-takes means how your audiences absorbed and reacted to your communications rather than your communications blooper reel, for example), but the concept is universal.

And if you want to steal be inspired by others’ successful measurement strategies before you sit down to create your own, they have a wealth of case studies that might help.

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