PR’s Top Pros Talk…COVID – Johna Burke
Johna Burke, Global Managing Director, AMEC
Organizations need to be using data driven measurement and evaluation in their program every day, says Global Managing Director at AMEC, Johna Burke. Companies that don’t are getting further and further behind.
By leveraging data, organizations can make much smarter and effective decisions when it comes to making cuts and reallocating resources. Johna stresses the importance of evaluating tonality and sentiment among other factors that drive communications strategy. It is important to continually understand and reevaluate priorities on a day to day basis and make changes to your messaging accordingly.
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About the Host:
Host: DOUG SIMON
Guest: JOHNA BURKE
DOUG: Johna, it’s great to be talking to you and congratulations on all you’re doing. Can you maybe share a bit about what AMEC is all about?
JOHNA: Sure, Doug, thanks for having me, it’s great to be here, especially when I get to talk about AMEC and measurement and evaluation. So, AMEC is the International Association for measurement and evaluation of communication. It’s a global trade association. Our members are a variety of numbers anywhere from PR agencies, corporations, non-profits and those who specialize in data and analysis measurement and valuation services and technology providers.
DOUG: how has COVID been changing business from your perspective?
JOHNA: From my perspective it’s changed in the sense that I’m not going to travel a hundred and eighty thousand miles in an airplane this year. So, it’s changing a lot of kind of my role in supporting our members is being at their events is supporting them regionally as well as globally. So that’s changed. But I’ve seen such an amazing transition of our members going from the traditional environment of what they know and really embracing and leaning into the online environment to really being able to deliver great public relations, great communications and great programming to their constituents and their stakeholders in the absence of some of those in life person events.
DOUG: since we like making this fun. What are some of the measurement mistakes that you’re seeing organizations make that they should be cleaning up to improve on?
JOHNA: So, a really good thing about COVID is it is the ultimate crisis, right? So, people who are adept in crisis communications and crisis planning and putting their programs into place are faring much better than organizations who aren’t, but those organizations who aren’t using measurement in evaluation in their program every day are getting further and further behind. Because as they’re looking at economic challenges, at economic crisis they’re looking now knowing that they have to make a change, they have to make a shift, and they aren’t able to do it in a data led fashion which makes it a little bit of a risky environment for them as opposed to organizations who do use data who do have an established measurement and evaluation program. They can make those surgical cuts as opposed to looking at 20% across the board. They can make smarter cuts, they can refine and develop their programs as they need to in order to be more effective without losing a lot of the impact and the outcome views that they can see from their everyday work.
DOUG: Yeah and hopefully it’s not just about cuts, it’s also about reallocating and seeing where opportunity is. Is a big piece of this understanding for different businesses what they need to be measuring, or is this all about specifics of communications?
JOHNA: C, all of the above. I think it’s always about what they should be measuring because that is environmental in many cases. They always have a standard of KPIs that they’re looking at in understanding where they are so that they can see correlations throughout time over time. But I think there is also environmental situations that are going to rise up and bubble up certain issues. So, looking at a monitoring and evaluation program, you know, every, all of their data that they had 90 days ago or even nine days ago in some cases is no longer valid for what they’re trying to do to drive their business. So, it really is important to be nimble and no one understands how communications then affects those areas where their organization is stronger, or weaker where they need to shore that up. Where they have great partnerships. You know, I think through all of this it’s both an evaluation of your own organization, but who are your partners, who is your community, where do you lie within that ecosystem, and how is that an extension of your brand and how are you measuring and evaluating that, and what is the impact to your stakeholders, or who you collaborate with on a professional level.
DOUG: So maybe you could give an example and forgive me I’m trying to get you to drill down a little bit into what should organizations be measuring about their communications. Is it different, but like what are some things like, hey you may be paying attention to this, but these are the types of things that you want to know how you can go about learning about that?
JOHNA: Absolutely, Doug. I think it’s a combination of things for every brand, and they’ll know what their magic formula is, but I think the obvious things are, you know, tonality, sentiment of what’s going on with the coverage that they are getting, what’s the tonality of the coverage that their competitors are getting, where is their share of voice, is their CEO being interviewed, are people talking about their organization, Are they talking about their products, or services, or their people? And there are ways to be able to dive down into those based on what’s most important to them, what’s driving that stakeholder value for them and especially during COVID I think it can shift, it can mix, and so understanding from day to day what those top priorities are, what those issues are, what are the those evolving messages that might be going on in communications in general, and how they can, you know, work into being relevant in those stories and being a key provider of relevant information can be really something important that they can only understand if they’re monitoring and measuring as they’re going along.
DOUG: I’d also think that it’s important to track changes when you see them. Now you mention about the role of the CEO in reputation. We’re seeing an increased importance that brands are paying to have their leaders get out get interviewed on television, get out there, be transparent about what they’re doing. Are you seeing some of those same trends and are they affecting reputation?
JOHNA: I think absolutely, and I think what we’re seeing is for those people who have an effective measurement and evaluation program their CEO is fully aware, he or she are dialed into what those metrics are, and they are looking to that for insight so that they are smarter during those requested interviews. And I think there are a lot of great examples of people talking about budget and how do we get budget. And I think if you’re doing it right, you’ll find that your CFO and your CEO will be your two biggest advocates because they will come to rely on that data across the organization and understand that communications is an essential role. I mean it’s been proven out in this pandemic. No one said we’re laying off communications we’re just going to shoot from the hip, right? Those were those assets that immediately no matter what people had to do within their organization to retrench, they were all looking towards their communication experts, whether it was internally or externally, to help them pull together the right, the appropriate message and to make sure that those nuances were reverberated throughout their community.
DOUG: Well Johna we’ll be looking for your perspective on the data from this post after it gets out there and thanks so much for being with us, great to talk to you.
JOHNA: Thank you, Doug, always a pleasure.