C is for engagement – Part 4 of 4


To engage your audiences, and for your stakeholders to engage with you, you need to be credible. Within corporate communications, credibility relies on two key elements:

  • Integrity
  • Return on investment.


Anyone who has ever produced a piece of content will know that true objectivity is an academic theory orbiting a great distance from the real world. But, for content to be credible it must at the very least acknowledge and empathise with a number of perspectives. It must have integrity. While it is incumbent on us to ‘toe the party line’, it is also key that we recognise and acknowledge the many conflicting and contradictory perspectives our audience will hold.

The one single piece of negative feedback I’ve heard from the audiences of clients – working across a range of sectors and disciplines – is that the corporate communications they deliver are regarded as being too positive. Perish the thought!

It is valid though.

No workplace is a bed of roses, filled with the scent of good practice, continuous improvement, unhindered personal development and collective achievement. There is always conflict, struggle, error and failure. Acknowledging this, learning from it and reflecting on it through our content is the only way we can ever claim that our content has integrity. Without this our content will never be credible.

Return on investment

What can we learn from our marketing colleagues? For a long time they have been able to draw a much straighter line between their activity and the bottom line. It makes them more accountable, sure, but also much more credible.

For corporate communicators, our objectives are often about influencing perspective, affecting incremental improvement, encouraging behavioural change. These can be more difficult to measure, but measurement needs to be an integral part of all of our communication activity if it is to be credible.

Designing and developing appropriate metrics is key. And it’s not just about data and analytics. Open rates, dwell times, bounces and unsubscriptions are all peripheral symptoms of engagement. But credible measurement needs to illustrate a deeper impact.

For example, if you work in an organisation where employee absenteeism is running at 25 per cent per annum, you may be asked to run a campaign to reduce this. It’s relatively simple to do this. You take the benchmark measurement at the beginning, and compare it to the benchmark measurement at the end. There will be mitigating circumstances beyond your activity, but it would be fair and reasonable to apportion much of the shift to your activity.

For this example, your measurable objective may be:

  • To reduce the rate of employee absenteeism from 25 per cent per annum (2017), to 20 per cent per annum (2018).

This allows you to calculate a return on investment. To calculate ROI, the benefit (or return) of an investment is subtracted from the cost of the investment.

So, with the example given, if you spent £10,000 on the communication campaign, and the cost of absenteeism was reduced by £20,000 per annum – the ROI would be +£10,000.

To give sceptics and accountants such powerful information is the best way to ensure credibility.

To find out more, email Daniel Lambie or call 0141 560 3040