I’m a huge fan of both Nielsen buzzmetrics and the guys there who are great bloggers, insightful almost always. I find it so interesting that a lot of the debate happening around the media maven hangouts is so close to the debates we as internal communicators (oops, I mean EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT PROFESSIONALS) were having over the previous 4-6 years.
That is, how do we prove the value of what we do? What’s the ROI? How do we make the business case?
Our agency, like the others, is embarking on some exciting and bold new ventures to track what was previously untrackable — what used to be put in the “not important” or “too hard” box. What’s the payoff, really, of investment in brand, marketing, advertising and PR?
In the early 90s I started in my second job as a young head of marketing communications. We had a new (old) PR guy who was obsessed with “exposures”. If 20,000 people drove by his billboard per day, and 40,000 read the newspaper we had an ad in, we had 60,000 “exposures”. At the time, and now, I thought that was stupid. I asked, “As a result of our PR investment, what new business can we claim to have created?”
Still, a hard question to answer. But the internal communication corollary was abandoned long ago (e.g., how many newsletters did we print and distribute?) for the metric-driven models emerging from the Sears service-profit chain (that is, if we improve employee engagement, this will result in happy customers, who spend more money with us and help us secure our future).
Part of me wants to know how the hell did the marketing guys get away with it for so long while internal comms folks at various stages were literally fighting for our jobs and proving our value to the organisation?
Anyway, things seem to go full circle. Metrics are booming in internal communications (I mean, erm, ENGAGEMENT) to the degree that, at least in North America from a lot of what I’ve seen, inspiration and passion have been ruthlessly squeezed out of the equation. Which is why I prefer working in Europe…
But it’s coming here fast enough. Gallup and Maritz have started talking seriously about brand, so it won’t be long before those bright chaps connect the dots and figure out that they need to make more explicit internal-external linkages between brand and employee engagement.
So, do you go out and get a PhD, or continue to fight the corner of balance — what I call Rational Inspiration(TM)?
A bit of both.
Signing off for now. Have a look at Hobart 65 (link to right). He rocks too.