Jul 29, 2014

Five steps to starting a communications analytics journey

In my last post, I provided brief descriptions about the key concepts I think you need to begin your communications analytics journey. I also asked, “what does it all mean?” Today, I’m going to walk through five steps you can take to kick off your journey.

I believe that developing analytics around communication can be the key to making our profession more science than art, and if we make that turn, I believe we can find ways to evolve the profession, ensure its sustainability, and deliver business value like never before. This kind of evolution is needed in our profession, and it’s one of the reasons I created the ICLC. So if you’re interested in taking the communications analytics journey, here are the steps I recommend:

  1. Gather all the existing data you can. Click rates, readership rates, survey responses, employee demographics…go on a hunt for it.
  2. Create more data. Do polls, audits, surveys, focus groups…whatever it takes to get data that can be analyzed.
  3. Leverage your position to make a case for big data. Believe it or not, because of the work we do, most communications teams sit at the intersection of four types of data: business performance metrics, people data, engagement results, and communications metrics (like the ones mentioned above). If we follow the definition above, this smells like big data to me. There’s nothing wrong with asking for the data – you’ll be surprised what you get, or better yet, what movement you may start in your organization by raising awareness of the analytics potential.
  4. Pose some questions. Once you have all of this data, what does it make you wonder? Let your curiosity take over. For example, wouldn’t it be great to know if people who read a certain communications channel are more likely to be engaged or have higher appraisal scores? While we can assume the relationship in this scenario, there is power in knowing it for sure…and more importantly, knowing specifically what the channel is and by how much it impacts engagement and appraisal scores when compared to those who do not use the channel.
  5. Do some analysis to answer the questions. This is where it all comes together…applying statistical models to all of this rich data. If you can do it yourself, wonderful. If you can’t, ask for help. Many organizations have people who are strong in statistics, and there are vendors who can support this work as well. A closed mouth will not get fed, so don’t be afraid to ask for assistance.

Hope you are finding this journey as interesting as I am. And by all means, if you are inspired or if you head down this road, leave a comment to share your journey as well so others can learn.

Jul 21, 2014

What every communicator needs to know about analytics

Last month, I introduced the concept of communications analytics – the analytical side of how and what we communicate to our audiences – and as I continue this series, I wanted to do a quick piece that establishes common understanding for concepts I think are important.

This is how I think about it:

  • Metrics – Data points you collect (hit rates, clicks, survey responses)
  • Big Data – The collection of metrics from lots of data sources
  • Analytics – Using data to come up with insights and tell a story for why the data is behaving a certain way, suggest implications, inform decisions, etc.

These are my simplistic definitions. If you want to learn more, I’ll point you to Bernard Marr, whose posts have been helpful for me in making the distinction.

So the big question is, “what does all of this mean for internal communications?” I’ll answer this question in my next post, so stay tuned.

Jun 30, 2014

Data and Analytics: The Next Big Thing for Communications

In my last blog, I alluded to big data and analytics when I spoke about engagement, business performance, and their connection to communications. My belief is that if you can use data and analytics to understand the relationship between engagement and business performance, why can’t you do the same for internal communications? This area of measurement is a passion of mine, and as such, I’m working to build out a capability around communications analytics – the analytical side of how and what we communicate to our audiences.

While I’m on this journey, I’d love for you to ask me about my thoughts on the subject, especially if you’re interested in focusing on measurement in your own organization. We need to have a consistent approach to measurement once and for all, and I think targeting big data and analytics is the next big opportunity for communications – it’s where we can crack the code on how we create business value.

In the coming weeks, my blogs will highlight several areas of the big data/communications analytics journey. I hope you’ll take a look and let me know what you think. Ultimately, my goal is to make the communications profession as a whole think differently about the idea of measurement, assessing the value and impact of communications, the way we do our work, and the types of skills we need to try to bring the analytical mindset to communication.

Jun 25, 2014

Why Engagement Has Become All Talk and No Action

Last month, I participated in a panel discussion as part of an event hosted by the Engage for Success Cross-Cultures Subgroup on engaging across cultures. One of the points I made was about how the engagement narrative needs to evolve. I made that point largely because of the opportunity I see in how we can progress the engagement narrative within Coca-Cola Enterprises.

While the research is clear that organizations who engage their employees see better business results, we’ve taken that research for granted and missed an opportunity to make the research relevant by asking, “How does engagement drive performance, shareowner value, and productivity in OUR organization?” Answers to these questions really resonate with leaders and managers, but since these questions haven’t been asked enough, the engagement narrative I’m driving is boiling down to a message of “driving engagement for engagement’s sake.” I’m sure I’m not the only one at this place.

From a communications perspective, one of the main responsibilities we have is to make engagement important for leaders and line managers. We can do this by shifting the conversation away from simply keeping employees engaged to discussing where the business is struggling and talking about the relevant engagement gaps, which, if closed, will help address these struggles; it’s a nuance, but it’s a critical one.

For example, one of the things we can study at CCE is the relationship between line performance and employees feeling like their leaders have everyone working toward a common goal and that they’re making decisions promptly. We are seeing that typically, line performance is better – as is engagement – in locations where employees feel good about these leadership actions. If our engagement narrative talks about this relationship, it will be much stronger and drive more business value. Then our leaders and managers can target their engagement actions in ways that will measurably improve not just engagement, but also key business metrics. This is how we can partner with the business to drive engagement.

As communications professionals, we can take the lead on the engagement narrative, and as we’re developing it, we can ask questions to help us understand specifically how engagement actions will impact business results. If we make this change in our Well-Being strategy, what will it improve? What about Learning and Development – what will it improve? If we make this change to our Health and Safety plans, what will it improve? This will be the way we can evolve the engagement conversation.