THE BIG PITCH: How can comms VPs show their group's ROI and avoidfuture budget cuts?

KEVIN RAMUNDO - VP, corporate communications, Goodrich

Charlotte, NC

This question often prompts a listing of techniques used to measure the

value of corporate communications quantitatively. While measurement

techniques are worthwhile, what matters most is that management at all

levels understands how the function contributes strategically and

operationally to the company's success. Here's a checklist that will

help keep the function intact in good and bad times: Have a meaningful

strategic plan that ties persuasively into the company's goals and

objectives; be sure that senior management recognizes how all

communication resources are used in the strategy; use external

benchmarks to validate cost-effectiveness and efficiency; have advocates

across the organization who point to the great job communications is

doing; and be lean, because that is required in all corporate functions


ROSS GOLDBERG - President, Kevin/Ross Public Relations

Westlake Village, CA

Everything from environmental monitoring and communications audits to

employee surveys or management by objectives can be used. However, it is

misguided to ask PR to calibrate their ROI and matrix out their

projects, performance, and contribution to EBIT with the same

regimentation demanded of finance or information systems. Under such

constraints, the subtleties, nuances, and beauty of PR are replaced by a

compulsion to apply quantitative results to a qualitative industry. The

very notion that measurement equals value is laughable. Human emotion

can't be measured, yet few would debate the value of a child's smile. So

too, what value does one place on strong name recognition, on earning

the trust of customers, or on building an internal culture where people

want to work? PR can only fully succeed when an intrinsic belief in its

value exists. With such a belief, an organization has a pipeline to

customers, employees, donors, opinion leaders, businesses, vendors, the

media, and others that can be nurtured and harvested over time. Without

it, the same company is just a commodity ... adrift and vulnerable.

MICHAEL BRUENING - Corporate comms director, George S. May International

Company, Park Ridge, IL

The quick answer is "be valuable to management." Doing it, however, may

take time. The corporate communications department needs to work first

at understanding what management's priorities are; then promoting the

department's capabilities to assist in attaining those goals;

accomplishing what was promised; and finally showing results in terms

that management can understand and appreciate. It all starts with

knowing management's priorities. If you're not sure of those, whatever

you do is based on conjecture.

When you're working with individual departments or divisions, the same

steps hold true, but with a narrower focus. Generally, the more involved

your department can be in activities with high management interest, the

better. And the more you'll be included in the future - as long as you


BEN MERRITT - President, Merritt Group Public Relations

Vienna, VA

While many believe that ROI in public relations is intangible, there are

various methods to prove its case and make it a "must-have" for

achieving an organization's overall business objectives. Especially now,

in times of uncertainty, strong PR is crucial, not only in helping a

company communicate confidence, but also in helping to drive the bottom

line. The key to proving its value to a business is to develop a few

tools that will more closely tie PR to sales and awareness. One strategy

is to develop quarterly media analyses that measure impressions and

define readership. An article can prove to be more valuable - and

credible - if the correct messages get through. Also, track sales leads

that come from articles, or note when stock prices increase because of a

solid announcement. Measure how industry analysts position the company

in market studies. Sometimes, the best strategy is to develop an

internal communications plan to ensure that management sees the

tangibles and the company doesn't lose a beat, particularly in uncertain


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