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

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