Communication professionals in Europe still neglect a comprehensive evaluation of communication performance. This finding, which has already been identified in last year’s results of the annual Europe-wide trend study European Communication Monitor (ECM), was further confirmed by the ECM 2010. The narrow view and the lack of measures on the outflow level is coherent with the strong search for clear links between communication and organisational goals identified in this survey. 62.5% of practitioners feel responsible for helping to define organisational objectives by adding the communicative dimension to strategy formulation. 85.4% of the respondents state their focus is on supporting problems deriving from business strategies with communication activities rather than defining the business strategies.
The narrow view on communication controlling and measurement that has been identified in earlier ECM surveys is still present in this year’s edition. In accordance with last year’s results, communication managers in Europe mainly rely on monitoring clippings and media response (82.3%) and internet/intranet usage (69.7%) when evaluating their activities. More than half of the respondents measure satisfaction of internal or external stakeholders or measure the understanding of the key messages the organisation communicates to their stakeholders. 41.8% of the respondents investigate the attitudes of stakeholders towards the organisation. Only one fourth is tracking impact on financial/strategic targets or on intangible/tangible resources.
When measuring their activities, communication professionals focus on a small part of the overall process. When compared with the framework for communication measurement issued by the German associations DPRG and ICV, a predominance of external output evaluation is obvious, followed by exploring the direct outcome on stakeholders’ perception or knowledge. Measures that catch the far ends of the overall process, for example evaluating the input invested by the organisation and added value creation for the organisation, are utilised at a significantly lower rate. Output evaluation comes first in all kinds of organisations, followed by outcome evaluation, input and outflow evaluation respectively.
It is noteworthy that changes in the communications mix and in the general conditions of PR departments have so far had little impact on evaluation practice. More than one third of all communication managers in companies and organizations has to get along with fewer resources in 2010 due to the economic crisis. Nevertheless, the evaluation of project costs (+1.7%), and of personnel costs (- 0.8%) changed only slightly. The measurement of internet and intranet usage has risen by 6.9%, but does not keep pace with growing importance of online communication (+9.2%) and social media (+ 7.2%).
The complete results and findings can be downloaded here as a free PDF (122pp.). Further research higlights of the ECM 2010:
- Challenges for communication professionals in the future
- Strategic issues, development of disciplines and communication instruments
- Indicators of excellence and power, planning procedures, leadership style
- Contribution to organisational objectives
- Perspectives and limitations of social media
- Salaries and job satisfaction
About the European Communication Monitor 2010
The European Communication Monitor (ECM) is an annual research project conducted since 2007 by a group of professors from 11 renowned universities across Europe, led by Prof. Dr. Ansgar Zerfass, University of Leipzig. It is probably the most comprehensive transnational analysis of communication management and public relations worldwide. The ECM 2010 is organized by the European Public Relations Education and Research Association (EUPRERA), the European Association of Communication Directors (EACD) and the Communication Director Magazine wirth support from Infopaq and Grayling. 30.000+ professionals throughout Europe were personally invited via e-mail to join the online survey in March 2010 in English language. In total 1.955 fully completed replies from 46 countries were analysed. Even though the ﬁndings cannot claim representativeness, because the population of PR professionals in Europe is unknown, they give an insightful picture of the state of the art of the profession in Europe.