Three audiences for effective evaluation

Blog post by Neil Wholey

Tuesday 3 October 2017

Effective communication evaluation should be designed with three audiences in mind: senior decision makers, our team and our peers. Only by thinking about what information is useful to each group can we make our evaluation fully effective.

Measurement Month event

As part of AMEC Measurement Month members of the Government Communication Service (GCS) have been looking at how to engage with these three audiences to deliver more effective communications evaluation.

1. Senior decision makers

Most communications evaluation is designed with senior decision-makers in mind. They need to see results and messages need to be clear and not muddled by an overload of metrics.

The GCS Evaluation Framework, which is in line with the AMEC Integrated Evaluation Framework, sets out a clear structure for the evidence we gather. The framework is designed with senior decision-makers in mind, by helping us set out what we are looking to achieve and how. It should be used as a planning tool to help us understand what success will look like to senior decision makers.

Evaluation frameworks also help us manage the risk of creative activity that may as yet be unproven, as well as alternatively repeating tried and tested approaches that work. They give reassurance to senior decision makers that we know what we are doing and have a clear way of tracking progress.

2. Our Teams

Those who work directly on the day-to-day delivery of communications activity should understand the impact of their work. Done well the measurement and evaluation of communications should inspire and reward excellent communication teams and professionals.

This will come through in our AMEC and GCS competition. At the next AMEC conference in Barcelona the GCS team with the strongest measurement story to tell will share it with delegates, as the guests of AMEC. Their story will not only show the evidence as to how their communications activity has driven real impact, but how this led the team to improve the work they do.

3. Our peers

Communications evaluation is a constant drive for learning and improvement. By working with our peers we can provide a safe space to try out ideas and help improve our work.

The value of continual peer-to-peer review of communication evaluation has been highlighted by AMEC Measurement Month activities. There have been over a dozen events across the UK that have brought communication professionals together. GCS members have invited others to attend their monthly evaluation meetings, asked colleagues for help in understanding how to reach particular audiences and shared examples of evaluation tools.

In addition the GCS has an on-going Insight and Evaluation community* that has over 250 members and is a great forum for seeking feedback and support from peers . It helps to reduce duplication and brings together an improved culture of evaluation through online and in person collaboration. The community is further supported by the GCS Evaluation Council, which actively encourages peer review.

Final thoughts

GCS have carried out more activities as part of AMEC Measurement Month than any other organisation in the world. This is possible due to the vibrant network of GCS members carrying out evaluation, and their openness in sharing with their peers. They are confident and have extensive experience of presenting their evaluation to senior decision makers, and work extensively with their teams to continually drive improvements based on evidence.

Excellent evaluation is not just about looking back on what has been delivered, but planning for the future and being clear about where you are going and how. Planning how you communicate to the three audiences set out here will help develop an evaluation culture within any organisation or sector, and more effective communications being delivered.

Neil Wholey

Head of Audiences, GCS
Evaluation Council member

Twitter: @neilwholey

* Not yet a member? Email insight@cabinetoffice.gov.uk to be added to the online Insight and Evaluation community via Basecamp