Friday, February 23, 2018

A Closer Look at Business Value Models

In “A Deeper Dive into the Communication Value Circle”, we considered action items that communication professionals could initiate to bring the Value Circle into their practice.  For instance, a key item to start today is to use the value nomenclature when working with organizational partners in communication planning as well as in management reporting activities. In addition to “talking the talk,” communication professionals can begin to shape a value strategy to guide the focus of what they do, the time allotted to do it and an anticipated result – think value here -- from doing it.

Drs. Zerfass and Viertman, Communication Value Circle designers, referred in their research submission,* to work in value-based management that has been done which informed the Communication Value Circle.  Of particular interest, is Michael Porter’s  work (below top)in developing specific activities a company can do that add value and give the company a competitive advantage.  Philip Kotler’s marketing value system (below middle) provides a visual of the complexities surrounding the marketing function as marketing value is derived from a value network composed of internal and external stakeholders.   In viewing these, we see how the Communication Value Circle (below bottom) provides communication with a value framework that is in alignment with key existing value-based management work and provides guidance in organizing where to focus communication activities.

In downloading the Communication Value Circle into communication strategy, might a stakeholder analysis and audit align daily activities with delivering maximum value to the organization? As a starting point, might the exercise include the following analysis to ensure communication is aligning its activities to where it can deliver its greatest value?
  • Stakeholder Group - General categories or segmented
  • Impact on Organization (power & Interest) - Use the power/interest matrix
  • Current Communication Activities Description - Channels, frequency, feedback
  • Current Communication Resources Consumption - Time, people & money
  • Value Circle Component - Enabling operations, ensuring flexibility, building intangibles, adjusting strategy

As you think about bringing the Communication Value Circle into your work, what additions or deletions would you make to the analytical elements above?  We’re “thinking out loud” here. Be creative.

As the Communication Value Circle is applied more in communication management, it is interesting to consider what we might discover about our profession and the value we deliver every day.

This is the third in a three-part series on The Communication Value Circle framework of value measurement.  The first – Might The Communication Value Circle, Finally, Get Us a Seat at the Table? and second – A Deeper Dive into the Communication Value Circle – were previously published.

*Journal of Communication Management, Vol. 21, No.1, 2017.

Friday, February 16, 2018

A Deeper Dive into the Communication Value Circle

The Communication Value Circle is the result of research published in 2016 by Ansgar Zerfass and Christine Viertman, Institute of Communication and Media Studies, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany. The two researchers had seen the results of two surveys, in 2014 and 2015, of communication professionals across the globe, that showed practitioners ranked “improving the measurement of communication effectiveness to prove value” as one of the top most significant, relevant issues for the profession in the upcoming years.  Zerfass and Viertman proceeded to review 815 publications in 36 international journals across several communication disciplines and published from 2000 onward, to discover what communication is asked to do in organizations and how value of these activities is determined.

The research review found four themes on what communication is asked to do:
·        Support business operations internally & externally to ensure fulfillment of the mission
·        Build reputation, brands and corporate culture to establish corporate citizen identity
·        Foster trusted relationships with stakeholders to deal with uncertainty in the marketplace, and
·        Listen for shifts in external and internal environments to adjust strategy and planning if necessary.

The resulting Communication Value Circle* framework from the research review does something no other communication value model or framework has been able to achieve.  It establishes the organizational communication function as a key and supporting activity in the organization’s life by
·        Defining the primary task of the communication function as -- to strategically manage and measure the company’s position in the market and with its stakeholders, listening and learning from the external and internal environments, and repositioning the company and adjusting strategies as market and stakeholder dynamics shift.  
·        Integrating communication value measurement with existing value frameworks used by other functions in the business that measure value as the fulfillment of corporate strategy.
·        And, aligning communication measurement with measuring value as fulfilling corporate strategy – how the company plans to achieve its mission in the marketplace.

While early in its release and with further work and application of the framework underway, at the very least, communication professionals should begin to use the value circle in planning communication activities, explaining communication value and managing communication role fulfilling corporate strategy.  They can explore the Communication Value Circle by focusing on its outer dimensions of value creation and working inward to communication activities (the outer colored ring) that align with the value dimensions.  For instance, communication activities that enhance company reputation, build the company’s brands or foster a positive corporate culture – the company’s identity -- create value for the company today and in the future.  Company publicity, learning customer preferences and building employee commitment enables the company to operate effectively and efficiently in the marketplace.  Knowing what activities contribute what value is an easy first step in beginning to work with the model.  A full discussion by its authors gives further insights and application in using the framework to begin “talking the talk” of business value and measurement.

Consider applying the Value Circle to your practice in these ways:
·        Planning
o   Understand the role of communication in organizations, specifically its cyclical nature in sending and receiving messages in business environments
o   Align communication activities goal/objectives with the value dimensions
·        Explaining
o   Adopt terminology of the Value Circle in your business reporting activities
o   Add “educating business partners on value” when developing the communication brief
·        Managing
o   Position communication activities as a primary and supporting function of fulfilling corporate strategy
o   Develop measurement of activities that align with the value dimensions short or long-term impact on the company

Let us know how it goes and what you find.

 This is the second in a three-part series on The Communication Value Circle framework of value measurement.  The first – Might The Communication Value Circle, Finally, Get Us a Seat at the Table?
– was published February 9, 2018. The third – A Closer Look at Business Value Models – will be published February 22, 2018.

*©University of Leipzig 2016

Friday, February 9, 2018

Might The Communication Value Circle, Finally, Get Us a Seat at the Table?

Recently, a friend and colleague, Amanda Hamilton-Atwell, D Litt et Phil, ABC, CPRP, of Business DNA in Pretoria, South Africa, forwarded an article entitled Creating business value through corporate communication: A theory-based framework and its practical application. 

Intrigued by the title, I found myself focused on the first three words – creating business value.  How do we as communication professionals measure what we do in organizations from an overarching, strategic view?  Isn’t a key differentiator of strategic communication its integrative capability as well as its alignment with business goals and objectives? Do we add and talk value in a valid business sense?

The 2011 Barcelona Principles were a good theoretical start but in-practice what is applied? Two measurement tools– the 4 O’s (output, outtake, outcome, outgrowth) and PESO (paid, earned, shared, owned) – came to mind and had me wondering.  Do the 4 O’s really measure value?  Does the PESO model actually measure the business value of a strategic communication function?  As I dove into reading the article, I realized that The Communication Value Circle may be the framework that finally measures the value of communication from a business sense and enables communication professionals to “talk the talk” of business value.  Might this framework give us our seat at the table?

This is the first in a three-part series on The Communication Value Circle framework of value measurement.  The second – A Deeper Dive into The Communication Value Circle – will be published February 15, 2018. The third – A Closer Look at Business Value Models – will be published February 22, 2018.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Bringing the Global Standard into Your Practice

(Blog 3 in a series of 3 on the Global Standard of the Communication Profession)
Mary Hills, ABC, Six Sigma
16 March 2015

The refreshed Global Standard was the first deliverable from the Career Roadmap Committee (CRM) that had been instituted from the IABC Life-long Learning Summit held in October, 2011.  Qualitative research began immediately to identify “core themes /concepts” found in the practice of communication.  In May, 2012, an external research house surveyed IABC members via a full membership survey to establish the importance and usage of the themes in professional practice.  The survey findings, valid and reliable, resulted in the Career Purpose and six Principles of the Global Standard.  Some have viewed the work done by the CRM to be the most significant work done by IABC since the excellence work it did in the 90’s.  Similar to the Excellence Study, the CRM’s impact and relevance to the communication professional and their daily work continues to morph.

So, where do we see the Global Standard in the everyday?  Let’s take a look at four communication professionals on different career paths to see the Global Standard in action.

As Emma, Wei, Samuel and Ivana have shown, using the Global Standard daily in our communication practice can guide us in mediating organizational challenges and give us a reason for acting. How do you see the Global standard impacting you and your work?
Blog 1 & 2 - The Global Standard Grows UP!  and Body of Knowledge, Terms and the Global Standard can be read here.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Body of Knowledge, Terms and the Global Standard

(Blog 2 in a series of 3 on the Global Standard)

Communication or communications?  Professional communicator vs. communication professional? And, where does practitioner and practice fit in?  Not quite the issue of consistency surrounding the English word tomatoe but we can only guess as to the countless hours spent by communication professionals around the world who have debated labels/terms in our profession.  (FYI - Tomatoe can be spelled tomatoe or tomato, pronounced tomātoe or tomăto and is categorized both as a fruit and a vegetable.)

In 2012, the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) put discussions on communication(s) and professional before or after communication to rest by releasing the terms to be used by communication professionals.  Here is a great way to put it in context:

We are communication professionals who work in the field of communication (science) often using communications systems to deliver communication messages.
The plural of communication – communications -- refers to technical things like systems, infrastructures, smartphones or cables.*  A communication practitioner (someone actively engaged in a profession) can support, or not support, this practice (the actual application or use of an idea, belief or method as opposed to theories about such application or use) as they chose.

Of all the terms associated with the Global Standard, “body of knowledge” is probably the one that builds and expands our thinking on the communication profession more than any other.  Wikipedia** defines a body of knowledge as

the complete set of concepts, terms and activities that make up a professional domain, as defined by the relevant learned society or professional association.

Through the last 40 years, as the field of organizational communication evolved from individual disciplines into today’s organizational communication industry, practices grew into reliable processes and procedures that inform the development of a communication practice. We identified processes to use when building plans, programs or campaigns.  Procedures, specific instructions for performing the tasks or activities in the processes, were captured from best practices in getting tasks/activities done effectively and efficiently.  Based on this body of knowledge, communication policies rose in companies, businesses and organizations throughout the world that stated rules and guidelines to ensure consistency and compliance in communication within the organization’s context. 

Using results from a global survey of communication professionals, the Global Standard of the Communication Profession isolates six areas – termed principles – that make up the core body of knowledge as the foundation for organizational communication.  Ethics, context, analysis, strategy, consistency, and engagement guide us in developing a practice. The Career Purpose guides our constituencies and us as to the role of a communication professional. 

*Whalen, Patricia. (2005). Corporate Communication from A to Z: An Encyclopedia for Public Relations and Marketing Professionals. P.32.
**While Wikipedia is not recognized as a credible root source, its role as a launch point to root sources is useful here.

Blog 1 – The Global Standard Grows UP! can be read here.

Next - Bringing the Global Standard into Your Practice

Monday, March 2, 2015

The Global Standard Grows UP!

If you asked an IABC member what the Global Standard was four years ago, they might have said, “Isn’t that about being accredited, an ABC?”  And, that would have been somewhat right.  However, even four years ago, the Global Standard referred to the use of the strategic communication management process when practicing organizational communication.  Those practitioners that exemplified this competency in their practice went through the accreditation process to earn the ABC designation.  But just as all things and disciplines evolve, the Global Standard grew in 2012 to include a shared career purpose with six guiding principles for communication professionals around the world known as the Global Standard for the Communication Profession. (Global Standard)

Based on independent, third-party global research, the Global Standard presents a shared career purpose among practitioners – our purpose is to represent the voice and conscience of the organization to its many and diverse stakeholders.  The six guiding principles – ethics, context, analysis, strategy, consistency and engagement – provide the foundation for the way competent work is done in diverse cultures and in organizations of all types and sizes around the world.  This Global Standard refresh aligns with the current state of the industry and truly is THE Global Standard for the Communication Professional.
Career delineation has also been mapped with career paths defined as Foundation, Generalist/Specialist, Strategic Advisor and Business Leader.  Development of a refreshed IABC certification, currently underway, rests in the Strategic Advisor level when practitioners have built and developed competencies to serve as an advisor/counselor to an organization’s leadership. 
The Global Standard has grown into an amazing foundation for professionals to use knowing it is a benchmark for a global organizational communication practice.  Is it the base for your practice?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Great words of 2011 - Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow.

In one of her final columns of the year, WSJ columnist Peggy Noonan, declared “Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow,” as the great words of 2011. As I read her column, I found myself smiling and nodding.

These were the final words of Steve Jobs, recounted by his sister Mona Simpson in her October 16 eulogy at her brother’s memorial service at Stanford University. Noonan wondered if she “was right to infer that Jobs saw something, and if so, what did he see? What was happening there?” What compelled these final words of WOW? (WSJ, 12/24-25/2011, pg.A15)

What was your first thought when you read them?