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Blogs  / January 21, 2021

Setting up your communications team for success using goals and metrics aligned with business impact

by Erik Wagner, Head of Growth

This week, we’re wrapping up our January blog series focused on “The Executive’s Guide to Building and Leading an Impactful Communications Team”.

In this article, we reveal the process that communication-savvy executives use to set SMART communications goals aligned with the company’s business objectives, and how they measure success of communications initiatives with metrics that matter.

Setting SMART communications goals aligned with business objectives

The first step in tying corporate and communications goals together is to review your business objectives. We often see executives set those around acquiring or retaining customers, improving corporate or brand reputation, creating a new category, or gaining meaningful brand engagement. These goals are often tied to revenue targets.

Once business objectives and metrics are identified, the next step is to determine communications goals that will best support them. In successful organizations, communications objectives are driven by executives in collaboration with their communications department.

If your company’s goal is improving reputation, then this directly ties into your communications strategy. However, you can create corresponding communications goals for other corporate objectives, as well. For example, website traffic and desired actions generated by earned and owned media can be tied to acquiring customers. Building relationships with media outlets that publish powerful educational stories resulting in new inquiries can be linked with creating a new category. And achieving a certain volume of article reader interactions, such as social shares, supports the goal of gaining meaningful brand engagement.

We recommend setting SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely:

  • Specific: Well defined, clear, and unambiguous
  • Measurable: With specific criteria that measure your progress toward the accomplishment of the goal
  • Achievable: Attainable and not impossible to achieve
  • Relevant: Aligned with your organization’s context
  • Timely: With a clearly defined timeline, including a starting date and a target date

Each element of the SMART framework works together to create goals that are carefully planned, clear and trackable, establishing a strong foundation for achieving success.

Measuring real business impact of earned and owned media

According to a recent survey of business leaders in large corporations, 3 out of 4 top executives agree that the ability to estimate and evaluate the achievements of corporate communications is an important part of a CEO’s or top manager’s qualifications. As a result, the C-suite is relatively involved in high-level communications goal setting, but many executives are regularly frustrated with the low quality of earned media measurement.

Today, communications measurement is not about impressions, media placements and article counts. It is not only possible, but also imperative, for communicators to measure KPIs (key performance indicators) tied to corporate objectives and even revenue targets.

Here is the framework developed by Onclusive to reliably measure real business impact of earned, owned and newswire media content across the entire customer journey. Each step in this framework is aligned to specific metrics that help determine the quality, resonance, influence, and bottom line impact of every article.

  • Content Quality: Going beyond measuring just the “quantity” of coverage, it is also important to understand the “quality” of your coverage, including relevance, reputation, repetition and sentiment, using metrics such as Onclusive’s Power of Voice™.
  • Engagement: While it’s good to get press, is anyone even consuming your content? How much and for how long are they reading it? These questions can be answered by Onclusive’s Reader Engagement score.
  • Influence: How did your content shape the opinions of the reader, how did it impact your brand? Onclusive’s Brand Impact measurement can show you this.
  • Action: What business outcomes did your content drive, including website traffic, sign-ups, sales and revenue? Look no further than Onclusive’s PR Attribution™ to understand how your media coverage influenced your top line.

We call these “metrics that matter”. They can empower the C-suite to understand the true impact of earned and owned media on organizational success, which in turn can drive overall company strategy and shift goals based on what is resonating with all of the key stakeholders.

Once the communications KPIs are set, you as an executive can hold your communications team accountable by asking them for regular reporting and insights. In our experience, communications teams that use data to assess and report on their progress on a quarterly, monthly and campaign basis have much stronger results.

Using technology for communications measurement

Modern PR and communications measurement is enabled by intelligent technology that can not only effectively monitor global media coverage for your brand and competitors, but also analyze billions of data points and provide actionable insights to help shape strategic communications.

Companies around the world now have access to tools like Onclusive that show communicators and executives which publications, journalists, campaigns, stories and messages are driving engagement and moving the needle in terms of website traffic, engagement, conversions, and ultimately, revenue.

Join us for the “The Executive’s Guide to Building and Leading an Impactful Communications Team” webinar next week on Tuesday, January 26th! Our panel will discuss how executives can better engage with their communications teams and ensure their KPIs are aligned with company goals. You’ll hear both the executives’ and communications pro’s perspectives on engagement best practices and how to lead a successful corporate communications operation.