Measurement and Evaluation in One Word

Communication professionals have struggled to undertake valid measurement and evaluation for an eternity it seems, with academic reviews indicating that the field of practice remains in “stasis” (i.e., stalemate) and “deadlock”, notwithstanding dozens of models and frameworks and the work of AMEC.

But, in a new book, AMEC Founding Fellow and Chair of the Academic Advisory Group, Distinguished Professor Jim Macnamara, says it all comes down to one word. That word: Listening.

In November, Jim published Organizational Listening II: Expanding the Concept, Theory, and Practice through Peter Lang, New York – a second almost all new edition of his pioneering 2016 book on organizational listening.

Jim explains that he came to the subject of organizational listening through measurement and evaluation. He says: “After doing M&E for 30-plus years, I found that many communication campaigns and projects failed to produce desired outcomes and impacts or could not identify outcomes and impacts – noting that these are what the audience does as a result. Reporting ‘outputs’ distributed by an organization is not enough.

When he looked for the reasons for lack of results, Jim found a lack of listening by organizations. “Organizations don’t adequately listen to their stakeholders in planning stages, and they don’t listen to them adequately afterwards to find out what they think and do as a result.” This led Jim to declare in his latest book:

Evaluation of public communication is largely listening. Formative evaluation involves listening to stakeholders and identified ‘target audiences’ to understand their interests, information needs, preferred channels, and to identify baselines of existing awareness, attitudes, and behaviour. Process and summative evaluation also require listening to identify whether messages are being received, understood, believed, and whether they are having any effect on awareness, attitudes, or behaviour.

A second reason for Jim’s focus on listening is that listening is an integral part of communication. He says “Listening is not a separable or optional part. Without listening there is no communication – only speaking in some form. Without listening there is no exchange or sharing of meaning and there may not even be informing, as messages can be ignored, forgotten, or rejected.”

Along with his seminal 2018 book Evaluating Public Communication: Exploring New Models, Standards, and Best Practice published by Routlege, UK, Organizational Listening II: Expanding the Concept, Theory, and Practice (Peter Lang, New York) offers extensive advice on achieving effective public communication.

AMEC Members can benefit from an exclusive 30% discount on the publication price for Organizational Listening II: Expanding the Concept, Theory, and Practice contact us to request the discount code.