The impact of PR; from playroom to boardroom
In the 1st blog of this series, we discussed the importance of media monitoring and the shift that is needed in order to focus more on impact rather than the “issues of the day”. In part 2 of this series we will take you through the process of providing evidence as well as providing insight into the impact you make as a communications professional with regards to programs and projects. Because making these efforts measurable is one thing, but making them clear and being able to transfer your story to management, as well as creating support, is another thing. In addition, the top expects advice and support. So how do you go about it, and what should you pay extra attention to? And, how do you stay away from information about, as Ron van der Jagt so wonderfully puts it, the “box of things”, where the issues of the day reign supreme?
Know your organisation and its strategy
In order to communicate and report relevant insights, it is crucial to know what the strategy of your organisation is, and which objectives are linked to it. Only then can you link in the results of PR efforts and transfer them in the right way. This was also covered in-depth in part 1 of this series.
Focus on results, not details
As a communications professional you of course want your work to make an impact, and you want to be able to show why it makes an impact. In addition, it is becoming increasingly important to step into the role of strategic advisor with regards to management and to help them in making decisions.
You may think the board is looking forward to your weekly report, with all the news about your organisation, but actually nothing could be further from the truth. Management has little time and is mainly interested in results and how they contribute to the overall objectives of the organisation. So, put the focus on the most important elements and results, and leave out the details; they are not relevant.
Examples of important elements are:
- ‘Tell us something we don’t know’
- Insights into opportunities and improvements
- Learnings from evaluations
- Outcomes and impact from PR-activities (instead of sec. data outputs)
- Consequences of (future) decisions
- Status of KPIs
The best way to report to your boardroom
It’s now clear that the focus is more on results rather than details. Check, got it. But how can you make sure that you communicate and report these results correctly? Very simple; make sure you stay clear, relevant and to the point.
To what extent are your results specific? Stay away from unclear terms and jargon, but make sure that what you report requires no further explanation or raises any questions. Make sure that you are aware of what management knows and does not know and speak the same language. Clarity in advance with regards to the purpose of your report is also very important and gives direction to the following 2 points. If your goal is to inform, then other things may be relevant and you may want to use different visuals and wording than when you advise the board.
Relevance = key
Ask yourself these questions with everything you communicate: To what extent is the information you report relevant to the board? Will this help them in their decision-making on the current issues and challenges regarding our organisation? Make sure that you only convey what is relevant and that you really make a point in your story. With every point you make, ask yourself “so what?” It is also important to start with the most important conclusions and then explain them.
To the point
To what extent are you able to present information in the clearest and simplest way? Avoid unnecessary words, graphs, numbers and/or images and make sure that if you use them, they also have a function and are not only shown for the show.
Choose a clear format
In addition to formulating clear content, relevance and to the point, it is important to choose a clear and understandable format in order to properly convey the information. After all, you want what you have to say to be read and, perhaps more importantly, to hit the bullseye with the target group.
As mentioned earlier, management has little time, so make sure that the format you choose is easy to understand and that it is clear, at a glance, what the reader should remember. Less = more in this case. A one or two-pager with key findings often works better than a lengthy 50-page report. Provide simple data visualisations, supplemented with short explanations. This often works best. In addition, it is important to make the conclusions that you want to convey conclusive, and to substantiate them with good arguments based on factual substantiations.
Keep in mind that you want to create a report in which you help them to make fact-based decisions; so watch out for information overload.
So, hopefully you now have a good picture of how you can proceed with the design of media monitoring, and how you can communicate the right insights from this to management in the right way. In addition to reporting to management, it is of course also important to be able to use the insights gained from media monitoring to sharpen and improve the communication strategy and proactive initiatives. Because after all, you want to stay in the lead and remain in control of what you communicate as an organisation. In addition, there are also plenty of activities that you perform (for example in the event of a crisis), that are made “visible” due to the media coverage that was not there. How can you make sure that this role as a communication professional is also made visible within your own organisation, and that company-wide findings can also be gleaned from this? We will discuss this further in part 3 of this four-part section on Reputation Management.