Publication Evaluation

What We Do

Some of the ways we can help you evaluate the effectiveness of your publications:

  • Content analysis: We first identify the ideal content for your publication, based on executive and reader input. Then we measure how much of the content covers each ideal topic, or reflects your brand attributes, or matches the mix of your readers or lines of business.
  • Starch Test: We find out what readers remember from your last issue. We then identify each article they actually read, skimmed or skipped to find out what they’re reading. Then we find out what writing and design techniques will improve those readership levels.
  • International review: We will put our worldwide network of publication specialists to work assessing the writing and design of your global publication from their own cultural perspectives. This option takes less time and money than focus groups in each of those countries.
  • Reading grade level tests: We can set up a reporting system to track the readability of various publications over time, or during review stages for works in progress.
  • Readership surveys: We can test how your content and format appeal to your audiences, as well as their own assessments of how the publication affects their knowledge, attitudes and behaviors.

How We’re Different

  • We help you identify what your publication’s objectives should be.
  • We assess not just satisfaction with the publication, but how well it achieves behavioral objectives.
  • We developed our own versions of many of these tools so that they provide highly actionable results.
  • We develop the templates for these tools in a way that you can continue measurements on your own on an ongoing basis.

Sample Projects: Publication Evaluation

Starch Test

We analyzed the patterns of which articles in a publication readers actually read. We found that they often read articles of a type they didn’t admit to liking in focus groups. We also discovered that one type of articles that they did want to read were in a section of the publication that was so confusingly designed that most of them gave up after trying a quick scan of the pages. We also discovered that in a section with short items labeled geographically, they read only about their own locations, even though many of the items would actually have been of use to them. One of our recommendations was to headline the items with the useful informational tidbits, not the site name, to maximize the readership of the best practice ideas.

International Publication Review

A dozen of our reviewers from around the world assessed the content, format and design of one client’s global magazine. They provided not only numeric scores, but also narrative critiques and examples. By analyzing their numeric scores, we found patterns in different parts of the world and other patterns differing in countries where English is one of the official languages. Their recommendations for changes were highly specific and actionable.

Content Analysis

We measured the length of all the articles and recurring features of an employee publication over the course of six months. We identified the ideal content of the publication, starting with its objectives of supporting the company’s goals and brand attributes. We identified the content executives and employees wanted to see in it. Some of the findings:

  • While some key words from the company’s goals and brand attributes appeared in many of the stories, there were no direct references to the brand and only a few to one or more goals.
  • While the mix of geographical content generally matched the mix of revenue generated in those geographies, employees in focus groups perceived that the U.S. was over-represented. A closer look at the stories found that even when an article was primarily about some other part of the world, the individuals quoted were too often from the U.S. One of our recommendations was to avoid this type of dilution of international impact by trying harder to reach local sources for comments and quotes.