Putting together your own integrated communications dashboard? I’ve helped many, many organizations do just that, and certain tricky points in the process come up time after time. Here’s how to deal with them:
1. Make sure you have a deep understanding of what concerns and motivates your target audience and/or stakeholders.
If you don’t have good data on your stakeholders, go get some right away. You need to understand what motivates them to buy from you, support you, work for you, or invest in you. Do nothing until you have it. You also want to know about their frame of mind towards your organization or whatever it is that you’re trying to sell them. Make sure you are clear on what they care about.
2. Leave your department ego at the door.
Whatever you are doing, keep your customers or target audience front and center at all times. It doesn’t matter if they are clients, prospective customers, potential recruits, investors, or government regulators; your measures of success are based on what they think and how they react.
Remember that the definition of a key stakeholder is someone who potentially holds the future of your organization in their hands. Define success in their terms.
Put aside the silos, the norms, and the rules. If you’re thinking that your goal is to “increase awareness”—whether it’s of cottage cheese, your new sustainability strategy, or what a cool place you are to work—what matters are the people you are trying to convince to buy your product, invest in your stock, or apply for a job. It is not the three trillion people your agency claims you have “reached.” What is important is how many of those stakeholders have seen, heard, and believed your messages.
3. Get consensus from your boss, your boss’ boss, and your boss’ boss’ boss.
Everyone who will use your data or look at your dashboard needs to buy into whatever metrics you’ve decided to put in there. Do not put anything onto a dashboard that senior leadership hasn’t agreed to.
Use the data and knowledge you gained in the first two steps above to get consensus. While you’re at it, double and triple check that everyone is on the same page with how they define engagement, reach, awareness, mentions, positive and negative, and message. Write it all down and make sure anyone working on your dashboard has a copy.
4. Use the simplest tools available.
Purchase no measurement product or service until you have mapped out your goals, objectives, senior leadership expectations, and all the parameters of who is using the dashboard and how. And then, don’t buy anything that you don’t absolutely positively need.
I have seen far too many otherwise on-the-ball comms departments sign up for two-year contracts that don’t measure what they’ve just defined as success! So if you’re not 100% sure that Mary’s Measurement Service provides exactly what you need and when you need it, keep asking until you are. And once you’ve defined success you absolutely positively cannot go back and redefine based on what your tool spits out.
5. Customize your metrics to your own situation.
Far too many companies specify generic metrics like “positive coverage,” even though “positive” means something very different for Starbucks than it does for Lockheed Martin. Base your definitions and metrics on your own audience, your own priorities, and your own definitions of success. Learn how to define your own index of success at “How To Develop a Customized Kick Butt Index of the Quality of Your Media Coverage.” ∞