Let’s Talk About Communications Measurement

I’ve noticed a wide range of confidence with measurement among the communications community.

Most of us know it’s important, but not everyone is comfortable and for some it’s a downright scary thing that’s always giving you the evil eye from your ‘to do’ lists. I’d like to help. I have a media degree and post grad qualification; I’m definitely not a mathematician.

In my view, measurement is less scary if you start to count outcomes and think about what the numbers are telling you, before someone challenges you. You may not have the time or the calmness of mind under such pressure if it’s a bit of a pet hate (you may also not have any of the numbers you need).

I recently joined the UK and Ireland Board of IABC to help me connect with others interested in the topic and general corporate communications.  Later this year, I’ll be taking part in an IABC networking event where we can share views about measuring communications. I hope to see you there.

  1. Look beyond vanity statistics

My point here is that we need to do more than just count clicks. Know what business outcome you’re looking for and what you’ll be saying to who. Plan beyond the number of impressions and engagements you hope to achieve. After all, we’re in businesses to help them achieve their objectives, not just to encourage likes of our posts. We need to measure in context.

To illustrate my point rather painfully, here is an example (it’s unlikely to be to everyone’s taste). Take a quick look at this short video and think about what they were trying to achieve:

 

This video achieved a reach of over 1.6 million views and 21,000 likes – hurrah you might think. However, they achieved eight pledges and no donations. The purpose of the campaign was to achieve donations from managers of sports centres and teams.

  1. Quantify outcomes to prove Return on Investment

Let me ask you a question: do you have plenty of budget and resources to deliver for the business?

If you’re feeling a bit squeezed, don’t despair! You can use measurement to not only justify return on investment in communications but also to consider what you may improve or even switch off.

For example, a cascade pack that takes 20 days’ effort across a team each month to create, which is opened by 15% of managers and clicked on by 10% of them. Even if all those 1.5% of your total manager population then onward cascade the pack, it’s clearly not worth the effort.

Save that time to focus on things that do have impact, like great story telling.

  1. Look at the bigger picture

What do the numbers actually mean and how do they correlate to campaign business outcomes? Where I work now, we’re a B2B business, so our focus is on how we want to be positioned in our markets rather than direct advertising and eCommerce with the public.

In my previous company, we were B2C, so the focus was really different. We had large marketing and media functions, with adverts across all platforms and a high street presence.

Tip: know your business type and its strategy and build your content strategy around that.

Examples:

  • Media monitoring – measure share of voice, message reach, sentiment and key spokespeople.
  • Website and PR monitoring – what do people read, engage with, turn up to?
  • Social media – people trust ‘real’ people and subject matter experts more than they trust your company or top directors (search for Edelman Trust Index to find out more).
  • Internal digital – measure audience, engagement. What content do people like? Can you do more (if it’s of value)?

For a longer version of this article with many more tips and examples, click here.

Thank you.

Rachel Tolhurst

Head of Corporate Communications at Amey Plc

How can communicators survive in the new corporate world? – IABC UK introduces Bushcraft for Communicators

Inspired by their experiences as consultants and specialists in organisational change, employee engagement and leadership, Mike Pounsford and Stephen Welch have joined forces to create Bushcraft for Communicators.

 

As traditional approaches in marketing and strategic communications don’t seem to work in the new corporate world, Welch and Pounsford have devised 12 tools to help communicators navigate this new landscape. The pair use the bushcraft analogy to show how to be more agile and move faster to face the challenges encountered in the ‘bush’.

 

During an interactive event in London conducted by the two IABC UK past presidents, attendees had the opportunity to get a taste of how bushcraft tools can help communication professionals facing periods of uncertainty at their organisations.

 

The starting point

 

In a time when things can appear to be moving too quickly and changes arise unexpectedly, communicators and leaders need to ask where they are heading.

 

According to Welch and Pounsford, organisations need to be prepared if they want to survive in this new landscape, which is influenced by so many different factors. And how can they do that? By acknowledging where they are and where they want to go. However, the real challenge here is getting people to a common destination, while keeping in mind everyone’s journey will be different. As Pounsford says, ‘Not everyone departs from the same starting point’.

 

In order to reach sustained change, leaders shouldn’t focus on the process or the journey, but on the destination. They need to understand that it’s not only the leadership’s perspective that matters. it’s also importenat to pay attention to other employees’ points of view when they ask the big question: where do we want to go?

Good leaders, those who bet on sustained change, will know they have succeeded when they reach common consensus on the destination.

 

As Welch explained during the event, ‘HQs tend to remain in their little bubble of the world, and for them it will seem very simple. But, actually, their view of the world may not be shared by the rest of the organisation, who have different perspectives on how changes should be implemented or the journey to follow to achieve those new results’. Welch also maintains that communicators have a key role to play in devising a new strategy to bring about change in an organisation, encouraging them to ‘remind leaders they’re not the centre of the universe’.

 

The trust formula

 

Whether it is a business transaction or a friendship, trust plays an essential role in developing a relationship. Within strategic communications, a trusting relationship contains three key elements:

 

  • R: the results obtained or business outcome (what benefit will I obtain from this?)
  • US: mutual understanding and support (what is the relationship based on?)
  • T: low levels of risk (how will you reduce possible threats?).

 

When it comes to building long-term relationships with different stakeholders, the Trust Tool created by Welch and Pounsford helps communicators. The tool assesses how much effort communicators put into each element and outlines what can be done to raise their profile as a trusted specialist or consultant. For example:

 

  • To improve R: focus on solutions and results, show you understand the other person’s perspective and their world, listen and give feedback, show confidence in your skills.
  • To enhance US: share a social element, show empathy and put yourself in the other person’s shoes, find common ground and shared values, be generous with information and connections, be willing to learn more about them, do not forget about the power of face-to-face meetings.
  • To reduce T: provide examples of what you can do, do great work and solve problems, be visible and show commitment, demonstrate you are reliable, be responsible and available, give endorsements (mouth to mouth recommendations), show honesty.

 

Find out more about Bushcraft for Communicators and how you can apply these tools to your organisation.

 

By Alexandra R. Cifre

 

Why employers need to make sure we take pride in our work

Employee engagement is an important topic for companies. But do they truly listen to what is important to their employees and furthermore, do they act on it? And what can individuals do to manage their own successful working life?

 

These were the questions discussed by a panel of experts at the recent IABC event, How to Make Work Work, held at the VMA Group.

 

At the heart of the discussion was a new book by communications consultant and IABC member, Sheila Parry, “Take Pride: How to Build Organisational Success through People”. The book calls on business leaders to consider not only their organisation’s goals, but also what makes their people tick.

 

Parry’s research shows that companies often think about how employees can become company ambassadors. But they don’t give the same consideration to their employees’ own values. The book argues that corporate and personal values and agendas need to be aligned in order for employees to take pride in their work and throw their weight behind the organisation.

 

Panellist Joss Mathieson, until recently global head of internal communications at GSK, agreed that corporate reputation has to be built from within the organisation. He highlighted that, with our working lives extending into our 70s, it is more important than ever to make work a place we feel proud of and involved in. This is particularly true of younger generations who are looking for experiences that enrich their lives − including at work. They want to work for organisations that have a purpose they can identify with and contribute to.

 

Christina Fee, internal communications manager at DS Smith, emphasised the power of enabling employees to develop their own sense of purpose alongside that of the company. When it comes to achieving this alignment, she said, business communicators have a key role to play in ensuring that every single person is pulling in the same direction, and knows how they fit into the bigger picture.

 

For Howard Krais, communications manager at Johnson Matthey and IABC president, energy is a critical factor in the relationship between an organisation and its employees. People draw energy from the work they do, he said, and the more they are passionate about their work, the more energy the employer can tap into. It’s important for organisations to ensure that employees maintain their energy levels. And while companies pay lip service to wellbeing and mental health, Krais said that many had yet to fully grasp what it means to care for their employees on an emotional level.

 

The panellists agreed that an employee’s success also comes down to their taking greater control of their working lives. Rather than just accepting what is being handed down to them, employees need to take a much more active role in shaping how they work. This, above all, requires courage on the part of the individual − and listening on the part of the employer.

 

By Andrea Willige

Reflections On A Conversation Across The Ocean

I’m just reflecting on a great conversation (#iabcacrosstheocean) we had between the IABC members in San Francisco and the UK. We will post a full recording of the conversation soon.

We set out to explore how we manage communication in the UK and in the USA. Rather than having an expert come to talk to us about the cultural differences and the implications of these we decided to use the knowledge and experience of our members to explore the theme.

So, what came out? First of all, thoughts on the role of communication:

  • We all agree (not just on the panel, but also in our pre-conversation survey) that communicators are increasingly acting as business partners and that our role encompasses
    • Helping to connect people to make them feel part of one company with shared goals
    • Helping leaders communicate effectively so that they share that narrative
    • Support line managers by supporting leaders – more effective leadership communication helps provide the knowledge and role models that support line managers in making connections with their people
  • What it is not: communications professionals should not be responsible for the communication skills of line managers, but we influence through the way we help leadership communication

On the challenges facing communicators today the conversation covered:

  • It’s important especially in large global organisations to be very clear about the boundaries and responsibilities in communication teams
  • One of the key challenges of new technology is helping leaders understand how they need to adapt to exploit it fully. This is not just about responding to an “always on” environment by managing different channels, media and responsibilities; it is also about a change in mind-set and a change in style. We talked about the need to be bolder and more informal
  • Demographics is an issue. Young people strain at the leash and are keen to learn and get involved, older people provide an invaluable resource and pool of experience that we would be foolish to ignore

What do communication people need to help them in their roles?

  • Less of us may now come from journalistic backgrounds, but we need to keep the key competencies and values of attention to detail, checking facts, being truthful and honest
  • We need global mind-sets. It’s not just about managing large organisations with offices all over the globe, it’s about sensitivity to the needs and demands of people in different places operating in different time zones and in different cultural environments

What are the cross-cultural perils?

  • We need to pay attention to language. Catherine supplied a great story of an acquisition in which the American parent celebrated the UK company’s habit of an annual event in which UK employees threw pies at leaders (don’t ask!), describing how they wanted to honour the tradition of tossing at the boss

It’s difficult to capture in a few bullet points the richness of the conversation that we had. These points are my take outs from the discussion. There were lots of us involved so please add your comments below.

We did not address in depth the central hypothesis that there are major differences between the UK and the USA in how we manage communication, other than Catherine’s story about the language problem. We also ended up focussing on internal vs external communication challenges – a reflection perhaps of the experience of the panellists. So, there is much more to explore in this debate and we hope to have some more of these conversations designed to put the I into IABC at the chapter level.

Finally, a big thank you to the panellists who helped in the conversation and who were brave enough to face a live audience. They were:

  • Catherine Rudiger, Vice president of ICF in San Francisco
  • Howard Krais, Communications Director, GSK plc and President Elect IABC UK
  • Daniel Schraibman, Independent Consultant and Board member IABC UK

I’d also like to record a big vote of thanks to Gay Flashman and her team from Formative Content whose technology made the whole thing possible

Mike Pounsford

President IABC UK

 

 

 

So You’ve Moved to London, Eh?

A two-parter with resources for recent London arrivals – compiled by past IABC Chair, Michael Ambjorn.

Once you’ve sorted out the essentials (visa, bank account etc. etc.) here are some ideas for a quick start.

Quick start

Get ahead of the culture shock

(Even if you don’t think it’ll happen to you):

— And whilst it is intended as humour, this cuts close to reality… Anglo-EU translation Guide.

Adapt your pitch

Review and update your CV – correct spelling as appropriate – and remove anything that doesn’t have a result attached to it. Think through your portfolio stories (Situation, Task, Action, Result – or STAR for short) and practice them. Then make sure your LinkedIn profile matches. Yes, people do look you up before they meet you.

Build your network

Join your relevant professional body: IABC, CIPR, CIM, IAF etc. and attend events. The networking bits are always a great place to practice your STAR storytelling skills.

That said, doing a lot of listening first is never a bad move. You might want to read this book as a fresh take on that topic. Don’t be fooled by the cover.

And … look out for interesting MeetUp events beyond that – meetup.com/

Find a headhunter

Before you approach them, be absolutely clear about what you’re looking for (something that interests you; you’re good at; and others will pay for). Respect their time.

The Japanese call it Ikigai and the World Economic Forum has a useful article on this with a beautiful Venn – but I digress. The point is: cement your personal Venn with STAR stories. That alignment will make all the difference. And having interviewed 100s of people in the last 20+ years I can confidently say that following this format is the key to impressing any interview panel.

Senior gigs in general – a selection of firms

Spencer Stuart, Green Park, Penna, Veredus, Gatenby Sanderson, Perrett Laver, Odgers Berndtson etc.

Comms specifically

VMA, Ellwood Atfield Harkness Kennett etc.

Don’t just send your CV. Call them up. Get an appointment. It is a people business.

+ Also, check out the aggregators (to name a few):
iabcemena.com/jobs/ marketingweek.com/
prweekjobs.co.uk/
jobs.theguardian.com/
uk.linkedin.com/jobs/
allthingsic.com/jobs/

Do your due diligence

If a listed company, read the annual report and listen to the latest investor call. You’ll be surprised what is hidden in plain sight – useful for the interview process. If it is privately held, look them up: Companies House. Or if a charity, use the Charity Commission website. And you may want to check out Glassdoor and Crunchbase too – and if you’re willing to spend: a service like DueDil. If not, general Googling is useful – including news.google.com/

Land the job

Work through Slate’s Negotiation Academy + We Have a Deal early in the process. You might also want to use a Negotiation Canvas. Temper all that advice with the cultural insights from your reading of the resources mentioned up front. Or if you want to comprehensively overthink it, have a look at the Empathic Negotiation Canvas

Good luck! And look for the next in the series which focuses on how to settle in long term – and also has a set of useful ideas and resources for those freelancing.

In the meantime, follow @michaelambjorn and @IABCUK for ideas in-between – and be sure to come to the next IABC UK event and meet your peeps!