- Catherine Hernandez Blades, SVP, marketing and comms, SAIC
- Sitaara Ali, senior account executive, Meltwater
- Katie Denis, VP of Comms, Consumer Brands Association
- Sharyn Nerenberg, Vice President, Corporate Communications, Hughes
- Moderated by: Kara Giannecchini, senior director of events and custom content, PRWeek
Comms pros are increasingly collecting and presenting data to the C-suite to demonstrate the impact the function has on the overall business. In “A Morning Boost to your Bottom Line,” produced by PRWeek in collaboration with Meltwater, Caroline Montgomery, managing director, client success, Meltwater, and Catherine Hernandez Blades, SVP, marketing and comms, SAIC, gave presentations followed by a panel where comms pros discussed how PR practitioners are effectively and efficiently measuring the effects of their programs.
“People can’t manage what they can’t measure. If you don’t have the tools in place to measure your impact, it’s going to be hard to show what exactly it is that you’re doing,” said Montgomery.
Top row (left to right): Catherine Hernandez Blades, Sitaara Ali, Katie Denis. Bottom row (left to right): Sharyn Nerenberg, Caroline Montgomery.
During her presentation, Montgomery stressed the importance of building a framework for comms and PR to assess programs and to have the right tools in place to effectively measure those actions. “It's important that you really understand your goals and assign metrics accordingly,” she said.
Tying PR work back to organizational goals is also critical. Blades reminded participants during her presentation that data is only useful when it provides insights that can be turned into actionable information. “Everything you do must positively impact the goals and objectives of the business,” she said.
Blades also noted that while comms and PR teams may have to build, buy or partner to create the right tools for measurement, having those tools is critical to building successful comms strategies and to informing C-suite execs about the importance of the comms function.
During a panel discussion, Sitaara Ali, senior account executive, Meltwater, stressed the importance of not only gathering data, but building in time to analyze that information before presenting it to C-suite execs. “If you have a daily, a weekly, a monthly request from your C-suite, invest time to analyze and create a narrative around it to provide value across the organization,” she said.
“We want to be able to react quickly. It’s a constant process so you need to have the system set up to deliver whenever you need to,” said Sharyn Nerenberg, VP, corporate communications, Hughes.
Beyond a direct impact on sales, panelists cited underappreciated metrics that can resonate with top management. “One metric that’s been important to us is key message pull-through,” said Nerenberg. “Getting alignment on very high-level messages with the executives at the start of the year and refining them event by event, quarter by quarter has proved to be valuable for my executives.”
Ali noted that benchmarking against your own brand is a good metric for showing how messaging is not only changing your content but evolving the conversation in a larger space.
Panelists also discussed how efficient social listening allows them to quickly zero-in on important conversations and disregard noise that is only a distraction. “We’re dealing with a rough inflation market with the products we represent,” said Katie Denis, VP of comms, Consumer Brands Association. “We started using economic indicators, creating context and listening to how people are reacting. The way we listen to the social conversation informs our approach to how we message around it. One of the hardest things to figure out is: Am I chasing something? Or am I driving toward things?”
The panel also offered thoughts on which factors were most important when analyzing competition. “Competitive intel can be such a compelling narrative. We spend a lot of time on competitive analysis as we are trying to shape the marketplace,” said Blades. “The holy grail of all of this is predictive analytics. If you know where your competition is going, you can lead from that.”
Nerenberg said close monitoring of competitors’ messaging content allowed her team to identify a swell of conversation around a coalition of competitors calling for industry standards. “We were able to find it and bring it to the executives and the marketing teams so they could address it,” she said.
When it comes to media impact, panelists discussed the methods they use to show the C-suite what moves the needle. “The ESG movement is here to stay and it’s going to impact your stock price,” said Blades. She warned that failing to look at “where your scores are and using that data to influence your ESG scores and your programming” is a big mistake.
Ali noted that when PR professionals can tie their work back to organizational goals, the data they gather to support that work really makes an impact. “Before you do any of the day-to-day tasks of a PR communications professional, you have to know what those business goals are,” said Ali. “Without that, you present numbers with no real insights.”