First outputs, then outcomes, now outflows

Communications performance management is growing up fast. At last. Complex, multi-faceted, multi-dimensional campaigns have outgrown AVEs as senior management quite rightly expect their communications staff to measure their department’s performance with the same degree of accuracy as other functions in the organisation, such as finance or operations. Measuring campaigns by inputs and outputs is giving way to measurement by impacts and outcomes.

But another, even more sophisticated measure may be on the horizon, ‘outflows’. Outflows are a measure of the value that has been created for an organisation through the communications function. It’s part of a new communications model devised by the German PR trade association, DPRG and the ICV or International Controller Association.

Keene’s MD, Simon Quarendon, was present at an event organised by the ICV which met last night in London with a view to setting up a new work group in the UK and Professor Tom Watson of the Bournemouth University and Dr Kerstin Liehr-Gobbers of Reputation Inc took advantage of the opportunity to present their views on this new communications model. Communication Controlling is, according to them, a “total approach to communication performance management that is aligned with corporate objectives”.

Although some in the audience remained sceptical, Communication Controlling is already in use at major corporations including Siemens, BASF, Roche and Commerzbank and is clearly emerging on some radars. Click here to download a copy of the White Paper that they made available at the meeting.

As one of the PR industry’s leading experts on media evaluation, Professor Watson attracted a good crowd at the event. Dr Jon White, Honorary Professor at Cardiff University, David Bickerton, Director of Communications at BP, and Philip Sheldrake, author of ‘the business of influence’ attended as did Alex Aitken, Director of Strategy and Communications for Westminster City Council. When a group like this takes an interest in a subject its worth sitting up and taking notice.

Is the UK ready to adopt Communications Controlling and the DPRG/ICV model? Its early days, but any attempt to align communications activities more closely with corporate objectives can only be a good thing. And Professor Tom Watson (and Bournemouth University) is to be applauded for sponsoring the event.

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