Come with Data. Leave with Respect.
The following is part of our most recent publication released online, "IC in 2017 & 2018 FROM HOPE TO REALITY How Far We've Come | The Road Ahead." Looking back at their greatest hope for the IC profession in 2017 in terms of where the discipline should be, 21 communication professionals from different countries answer two questions: How far have we actually come in 2017? What remains to be done in 2018?
Liam FitzPatrick, Managing Partner at Working, shares his views on the progress made these past months, to what extent he believes his hope has translated into reality, and what remains to be done in 2018. To read the views of all contributors, download the free 42-page eBook here.
I hope that more of us can turn the rhetoric about measurement into reality. Data is the route to improving our practice, helping our colleagues make better communication decisions and gaining fresh insights into our audiences.
How far we've come. Next steps.
To be honest, when you get asked to forecast a development in the IC profession which will happen within a year, you know that whatever you say is going to be a bit unrealistic! I’m old enough to have seen endless predictions come and go; a few were pure fantasy and those that came to pass often took ages to do so! It’s taken decades for organisations to really understand what good employee communication can do for them but I’m still waiting to see intranets deliver some of the benefits promised at conferences in the 1990s!
But, when it comes to the use of data it’s surprising me at the speed with which the conversation is developing. OK there is still too much obsession with measures that focus on reach, but people seem to be talking more and more about the power of intelligence gathering. This year I have heard in quite a few places about how good quality insight is being used to help senior leaders, and I was quite excited to see Poppulo developing their suite of tools to support the communication leader who wants to bring evidence to the executive table. If the guys at Poppulo think it’s worth doing, I’d wager a lot of the profession are asking for it. It’s now routinely a topic in pitches for work so I’m really thrilled to see how the world is changing.
I imagine people like Angela Sinickas will point out that it’s taken her years to turn data gathering and measurement into an overnight success, but I sense an acceleration in adoption. And with it I sense that the professionalism of our craft will evolve. When you are looking at hard data about your performance you simply have to ask how you can improve; facts will shame the amateurs and spotlight the real pros.
I think the real opportunity for us is to move the conversation in IC away from doing stuff and towards the impact we have. Whilst it’s nice to show clients and stakeholders how hard you have been working and where their budgets have been going, the gold standard will always be to show how things have changed as a result of our interventions. Naturally we’re a long way off having robust and agreed ways of tracking return on investment and there is often a leap of faith involved in making the connection between better communication and a business outcome like higher sales, better safety or improved staff retention. However, the advancement follows curiosity and I hope more of us will be asking ourselves and our peers how we can better understand and track the outcomes of our work.
For me, I’d love to see us develop a culture of case study sharing that goes beyond promotional puff or professional bragging. I believe our profession will evolve when we treat our craft even more seriously and are willing to have respectful, robust and generous debate about what works and what doesn’t. Let’s start by sharing more or our experiences.
Click here to download the free 42-page eBook "IC in 2017 & 2018 FROM HOPE TO REALITY How Far We've Come | The Road Ahead."
Managing Partner, Working