The Gatehouse Blog

Demonstrating your value – input, output, out-take and outcome measures

At the CIPR internal communication conference earlier this week I facilitated a short workshop on demonstrating your value.

One of the topics my group got discussing was the types of measure you can use to assess your effectiveness and evaluate your impact as an internal communicator. As part of this we spent some time talking about the differences between input, output, out-take and outcome measures.

This is often an area where practitioners appreciate some guidance, so I have pulled together a brief summary below:


    What’s already out there?

  • Background information and research to inform your initial planning.

  • Some of this information could also provide benchmarks against which to measure future progress.

  • This is the sort of information you make use of during the audit stage of your planning and can often be uncovered using desk research.  Good sources include your in house HR or Marketing team, which are usually sitting on a wealth of rich (and often untapped) data.

  • Sources include the internal comms brief, desk research (demographics, survey data, content analysis of channels, etc) and qualitative research (interviews and focus groups). 


    Are your messages getting to people?

  • Used to measure WHAT we did – typically around message exposure and audience reach.

  • A valuable measure focused on the efficiency and effectiveness of your processes. It can analyse message exposure but it cannot explain to what extent people’s opinions or behaviour has been influenced.

  • The sorts of measure here include the volume of IC material issued (number of newsletters distributed, publication of related stories on intranet), events (who and how many attended) and the frequency of exposure to key messages (how often did we communicate key messages to each audience?)


    Are your messages getting through to people?

  • Used to measure THE IMPACT of what you did – the extent to which the audience is aware, has understood and remembered and their likely reaction and response.

  • Out-take research is often carried out during a campaign or programme to check whether messages are getting through to people – helping you refine and fine-tune your plans.

  • This sort of research includes looking at the number and type of questions submitted to an intranet-based Q&A, the pattern of intranet hits, awareness measures (is the message getting though?) and the likely intentions of audience.


    Are your messages changing attitudes or behaviour?

  • Used to measure the TANGIBLE RESULT of what you did – the degree to which comms changed awareness, opinions and behaviours.

  • The most valuable form of measurement, it provides concrete proof that a change in employee behaviour can be traced back to an internal comms programme, activity or message. It is also the basis for calculating ROI.

  • Outcome-based research includes an assessment of results versus objectives, hard evidence on value added (quantitative – sales, financial, etc) and soft evidence (qualitative – focus group feedback, etc).

A wide range of tools and techniques are available to evaluate IC effectiveness at all four levels. Your choice will depend on a number of factors – particularly how much depth and detail you require, your time availability and your budget.

A simple ‘menu’ of research methods is shown below, according to degree of sophistication. Externally sourced research will generally be more reliable, but there is a huge amount of valuable information that is likely to exist already inside the business and that you should be able to access quickly and easily.


Communication team can source, undertake and analyse internally.


Managed by communication team but may require specialist external input.


Relies on specialist external advice, managed by senior member of communication team.

  • Desk research and information gathering
  • Collecting demographic data
  • Telephone interviews
  • Pre testing of messages
  • External benchmarking
  • Developing a brief
  • SWOT analysis
  • Focus groups
  • Pulse surveys
  • Content analysis(channels)
  • Audience profiling
  • Creating a communication dashboard
  • Creating a communication scorecard
  • K

    ey driver analysis

  • Telephone surveying
  • Major employee surveys

The above is adapted from my CIPR Guide to Measurement & Evaluation for Internal Communicators – which is available exclusively to CIPR Members via the Member Area of the Institute’s website.

Whilst on the subject of demonstrating your value, you might also be interested in a funky new tool which has just been developed by Russell-Oliver Brooklands at the Internal Communication Model. ROB has created a seemingly rather sophisticated toolkit that apparently enables you to quantify the value of your contribution in pounds and pence. I haven’t had time to scrutinise it yet, but if it does what it promises to do then ROB may well have moved us one step closer to the Holy Grail!  It’s free, so why not check it out…