Training Topics

Training sessions run from one-hour lectures to multi-day workshops filled with interactive exercises where participants leave with the beginnings of their own plans and measurements in hand. Here are some of our more popular training topics.

Measurably Aligning Communication with Organizational Goals (30 min)

You know you should measure your communications, but where do you start? This session will help you build measurements into your communication planning process in a way that you can later calculate the return on your organization’s communication investment. Specifically, we’ll cover how to:

  • Set measurable communication objectives that connect communication activities with business results.
  • Decide what level of communication you should be measuring: communication activities, audience perceptions, changes in behavior or impact on goals.
  • Determine how you will define success: audience satisfaction, efficiency, effectiveness or changes in outcomes.
  • Calculate the ROI for specific communications.

Measuring Messages, Channels and Outcomes (45 min)

The easiest aspects of our work to measure are the messages we send out and the channels we manage. Yet measuring them in a vacuum may lead us to set goals for sending more of the wrong messages and using more of some ineffective channels. In this session, you’ll learn how to connect the right metrics about messages and channels to measurable outcomes of:

  • Improving knowledge
  • Making attitudes more positive
  • Changing audience behaviors.

You will learn ways of proving the connection between our activities and the financial value of the changes we influence in organizational outcomes by using before-and-after measures and using pilot and control groups.

Helping Leaders Excel at Communication

CEOs are the face of an organization, internally and externally. Yet little in CEOs’ earlier careers prepares them for the intense visibility they face when they lead the organization. This workshop provides dozens of ideas for how organizational communicators can help their senior leaders excel at the two-way communication skills that are needed to get employees and customers motivated to take the actions needed for the organization to thrive. Some of the topics discussed include:

  • Setting expectations for what role their communication role should be.
  • Planning communication in a way that leads to business results—not just increases awareness.
  • Choosing the right communication approaches for different topics and audiences.
  • Getting the most from face-to-face communication, including the “cascade” of information through management ranks and direct “Town Hall” meetings with large groups of employees or customers.
  • Improving horizontal communication among departments and sites.
  • Creating an ongoing feedback loop to hear what is on the minds of employees and customers.
  • Measuring communication outcomes and Return on Investment.

How to Get Leaders to Listen to You

Your professional experience and your title seem to have little impact on getting leaders to listen to good communication advice. What to do? It helps to speak their language—numbers—to get their attention. This session will share examples of how to gather research quickly and effectively to make yourself more credible when you advise your management team. Some of the examples will include:

  • Gathering qualitative research on emerging issues.
  • Using pilot/control groups to demonstrate the difference the right communication approach can make.
  • Gathering quick survey data to show the extent of an existing communication need or the ROI of a recent communication solution.

Measurement Skills: What You Need and Where to Get Them

By now we’re all hearing how communicators need to do research and measurement as part of our jobs, but what do we need to know at different stages of our careers? Do you need to be able to design a perfect survey, or just know when a survey is a better choice than a focus group?

This session breaks down the types of skills needed for a first, entry-level PR job, a middle manager and a communication executive.

The second part of this workshop focuses on different ways of developing these competencies, including many options that do not involve reading a textbook or taking a class.

Cracking the Code: Measuring the Impact of Customer Communication

Using multiple communication approaches certainly makes customer communications more effective, but it also makes it harder to isolate how much impact each element might have—especially the elements that we’re responsible for. This presentation will use easily adaptable examples of several companies in different industries that used various research techniques to identify exactly how communications affected business outcomes, and how much different elements (PR, ads, collateral, events, etc.) contributed to the ultimate results. Attendees will know how to:

  • Choose among different research approaches to isolate the impact of different communications on customer outcomes.
  • Ask the right questions to identify specific types of potential outcomes communications might be having.
  • Calculate ROI on an entire communication campaign or separate elements of it.

The session will show practical ways to determine how each different communication contributes to the outcomes of a communication strategy so it can be adjusted going forward to be even more effective and cost efficient.

Assessing the Communication Department's Infrastructure

Develop a Set of Metrics to Evaluate Your Staff’s Communication

While we often measure how well our messages reach our audiences and how well our channels are performing, a key set of metrics can evaluate how well the communication staff is using its time and money. This session will provide examples of how different communication departments have measured their effectiveness and their efficiency in using resources. Techniques include:

  • Inventories of channels that track audiences for each, time spent on each and budgets.
  • External benchmarking.
  • Interviews, focus groups and surveys with communicators and with their non-communication leadership.

Linking Communication Measurements to Business Goals (60 min)

This session will help you get beyond communicating just for awareness or understanding of broad organizational messages, to communicating more specifically and concretely to deliver business results by measurably influencing your audience’s behaviors.

This workshop covers:

  • Selecting which organizational goals are most likely to be affected by communication strategies.
  • Determining which stakeholder groups are most important in helping to achieve a particular goal.
  • Identifying the ideal behaviors for each stakeholder group to reach the goal.
  • Discovering through informal research which knowledge and attitude messages are contributing to the current (incorrect) behaviors and which messages would better motivate the ideal behaviors.
  • Choosing the best channels for the ideal knowledge and attitude messages.
  • Setting measurable objectives for the messages and channels.
  • Designing survey questions that will connect your communications with achievement of the ideal behaviors and organizational goals in terms of a return on investment.

Creating Your Own Measurement Dashboard (60 min)

Each year, most of us need to develop key performance indicators (KPIs) for our performance reviews. Increasingly, our managers aren’t satisfied with just measures of communication activities we accomplished; they want to see some outcomes as well. This session covers two main aspects of developing your own KPIs and sharing them with your leadership: identifying the right metrics and then choosing how to visually display them. You will learn how to:

  • Collect and evaluate all the current measurements available to you to identify which of them are usable and which need to be enhanced.
  • Identify some new metrics that may cost you nothing to collect.
  • Select the most meaningful metrics to track over time.
  • Establish baselines and set realistic targets for the metrics you select.
  • Choose among various options for sharing your results, such as a Balanced Scorecard, an index or various approaches to a visual “dashboard” of the key indicators.

The information in this session is helpful to communicators of any level, from those who manage a communication vehicle to those who manage an entire department.

Measuring the Impact of Social Media (60 min)

New social media tools are exciting and generating a lot of press, yet they are just one of the tools we can use in developing communication programs. When we use this type of tool, how do we measure how people are using the new tools? In addition, when we incorporate these tools in our program, how do we calculate their role in our overall program’s success?

This session teaches you how to:

  • Find and use free tools for measuring social media
  • Measure not only social media activities, but also outcomes resulting from them
  • Measure the impact of the social media you’re generating and track the impact of what’s being said about your organization “out there”
  • Apply some different research approaches for social media used internally with employees.

Justifying Social Media to Management (60 min)

Some communicators make the mistake of presenting a “social media strategy” to their leaders and wonder why their strategy is rejected. This session focuses communicators on identifying how specific types of social media can help them achieve the business goals their leaders care about—often at lower cost and faster than through traditional communication approaches alone. Some of the advantages of social media that are covered include enhanced ability to monitor stakeholder opinions, collaboration, innovation, and improved productivity.

The rest of this session is structured around the 10 most common reasons company leaders resist committing to social media, and provides business-like responses to each one. Many of the responses are supported by research statistics about audiences for social media as well as survey results from companies who were early adopters of the new media. The issues addressed include:

  • A need for perceived control of information.
  • Concern about whether customers and employees are ready for social media, and fears about what they might say online.
  • Costs and whether they would provide a return on investment.
  • Legal liabilities.

Calculating the ROI on Your Communications (60 min)

Measuring the effectiveness of communication isn’t enough anymore. Senior management is asking for more direct correlation of the money spent on communication with the business outcomes resulting from it—how it increases revenue or reduces expenses.

The session will:

  • Provide you with documented examples of how communication has affected bottom-line issues at other organizations.
  • Explain how to collect data for the ROI calculation by tracking changes in audience behaviors before and after you communicate.
  • Teach you how to use an ROI worksheet to calculate the return on your own communication campaigns or channels.

Meaningful Measures for Intranets and Web Sites (60 min)

Everyone knows you shouldn’t measure hits, but what should you measure? This seminar covers a number of measurement techniques to track the usage and usability of your sites, as well as other research methods that demonstrate the role your intranet is playing in achieving your organization’s business results and in meeting your audiences’ needs for information. This session will help you:

  • Decide what measures of site usage are most important for you and your management to base decisions on.
  • Translate reams of usage data into key metrics you’ll want to track over time.
  • Use focus group and survey techniques to determine how your electronic channels help achieve your organization’s business results.

How to Measure the Impact of Your Speeches (60 min)

Readership surveys measure publications, usage reports track web sites, but how can you measure the impact of speeches?

This session will provide dozens of ideas for communicators to quantify the value of the speeches they book and write for executives—or themselves. Most current measures of speeches focus on the mechanics of the talks: Did the audience like the topic, length, date, time and venue of the speech? Was the speaker loud enough? Were the slides legible? Did they think the presenter was knowledgeable on the topic?

This session goes beyond these satisfaction-focused questions and show you how to quantify the difference hearing an effective speech makes in the audience:

  • Changes in their attitudes.
  • Changes in their knowledge levels.
  • Changes in behavior and other outcomes.

Equipped with these more meaningful measures, communicators can then calculate the return on investment from speeches. Many of the tips in this session will apply to both internal and external speeches, but you’ll also learn a quantifiable way to determine which external speaking opportunities to accept and reject for your company’s executives.

Getting the Most out of Focus Groups (60 min)

Not everyone who can write an e-mail is a good communicator, and not every conversationalist makes a good focus group facilitator.  Knowing when to use focus groups and how to get the most out of them requires an artful mix of learned skills and good instincts.

This seminar will help with the skills part.

In this session, you will learn practical tips and techniques to make focus group research as valuable and productive as possible. Specific areas covered will include:

  • The differences between focus groups, study groups and other types of meetings.
  •  How to use focus groups before or after a survey for maximum effectiveness.
  • Selecting the right number of focus groups and enlisting participation.
  • Deciding who should facilitate the focus groups.
  • Developing the types of questions to ask, and recognizing during a session when to probe further or when to abandon a non-productive tangent.
  • Facilitating focus groups, including getting quiet participants to say more and overly vocal ones to let others get their turn.
  • Efficient ways to document what you hear in focus groups.
  •  Writing reports that get management’s attention.

While many aspects of focus groups are the same for internal or external groups, Angela will also highlight where there are differences, such as pre-qualifying and paying external group participants, and the pros and cons of recording the sessions.

Getting the Most out of Surveys (60 min)

Many of the measurements we need to manage our communication programs require us to survey our audiences. Yet, there’s nothing more frustrating than going to all the trouble of conducting a survey only to find out that the data are inconclusive because of flaws in the way we developed or administered the survey.

This session will guide you through the pitfalls of survey design and help you gather solid data that will hold up against the most piercing scrutiny.

You’ll learn to

  • Develop questions that provide actionable results and help you calculate an ROI on your communications.
  • Determine which response scales best suit your questions.
  • Choose random samples.
  • Decide how to administer a survey (including phone and electronic surveys).
  • Achieve high response rates.

Measuring the Success of Your Communications (90 min)

You’ve known you should measure your communications, but where do you start? This session will help you build measurements into your communication planning process in a way that you can later calculate the return on your organization’s communication investment. Specifically, we’ll cover how to:

  • Set measurable communication objectives that connect internal and external communication activities with business results. An exercise will help you apply this approach to a current project you’re working on.
  • Look at the levels of communication you are currently measuring—communication activities, audience perceptions, changes in behavior or impact on goals—and decide how to transform lower-value measures into higher-value ones.
  • Conduct a variety of internal and external measures on messages, channels (including electronic ones) and outcomes to see how effective your communications are.
  • Calculate the return on investment (ROI) for specific communications, and even estimate the potential return with your management before you present them with the budget you’re recommending.

How to Measure Your Communication Programs: Developing An Ongoing Process (3 hours)

More and more often, communicators are being asked to prove to their management team the value of their work. “Word” people need to learn how to live in a “numbers” world. This workshop will show you how to:

  • Measure the effectiveness of messages and communication channels
  • Conduct a “communication audit”
  • Apply inexpensive measurement techniques on your own
  • Conduct executive interviews and employee focus groups
  • Present your findings to management for results

Whether you’re just thinking about exploring measurement options, or are looking for new ways to improve your existing measurement processes, this session will provide you with tips and practical techniques you can immediately bring back to your organization for improved measurement.

Measuring the Impact of Employee Communication on the Brand (3 hours)

Advertising and marketing lay a strong foundation for perception of a brand, at least until people have contact with a company. Once they buy its products or interact with its employees, their long-term impressions of the brand will be shaped by their experiences.

This workshop will show you ways of measuring to what extent employees and executives:

  • Understand what the brand is.
  • Agree the brand attributes make sense
  • Behave in ways consistent with the brand
  •  Believe the company acts in ways consistent with the brand

You’ll learn about measuring information gaps, conducting knowledge tests and identifying employees’ preferred sources on brand issues. You will participate in exercises that help you align your own organization’s employee behaviors with brand attributes, as perceived by your external audiences.

In addition to learning how you can measure these various aspects of employee communication, which have even broader application than just brand management, we’ll also look at a case study of how one company assessed how well their global internal communication channels reinforced their own brand attributes, using a combination of techniques:

  • Executive interviews
  • Employee focus groups
  • A content analysis

An objective assessment by professional communicators from around the world to see how perception of the communication vehicles and their reflection of the brand varied in different cultures.

Extreme Make-over: From Communication Order-Taker to Business Strategist (1 day)

This highly interactive workshop will provide you with all the tools you need to think more strategically, present your ideas proactively to management in ways that make more business sense to them and use consulting techniques that help you take your seat at the management decision-making table—even if you’re not invited!

Focus Group Training (1 day)

A one-day, hands-on workshop for 6 to 12 people that demonstrates the right ways and the wrong ways to conduct focus groups.

Maximizing ROI and Proving Your Worth (2 days)

This highly interactive workshop will provide you with all the tools you need to think more strategically, present your ideas proactively to management in ways that make more business sense to them and use consulting techniques that help you take your seat at the management decision-making table—even if you’re not invited!

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