Creating a Command Center for the C-Suite
Your Chief Communications Officer (or your CEO) wants a collaborative, centralized command center to support your brand’s multichannel marketing strategy. My last blog post gave you a step-by-step guide to set one up. Now, let’s look at how to focus part of your command center on what’s most important to your C-Suite.
After you have selected your cross-company team, the physical location, and the equipment, the next step is to find out if your company’s executives want access to the command center itself; access to real-time data on their computers and mobile devices; or if they prefer simple, daily data points delivered by the command center team. Perhaps they want all three.
Once that is settled, it’s crucial to find out what success looks like to your CCO and CEO, so you can customize one or two screens of visualizations just for them. Take that information, aligned with your company’s business and communications goals, and find the best metrics for your command center analytics program.
Remember, the C-Suite wants to harness the power of media and social intelligence to understand the impact of your communications efforts quickly, easily and efficiently. They also will likely want to use your data-driven findings in speeches and presentations, as well as share nuggets of information with the company’s sales and marketing groups. Finally, the C-Suite will want to keep pulse of the company’s brand reputation – a key focus point at every Board of Directors meeting.
Access to the Command Center Data
Most executives will want to visit the command center, to check in with the team, look at the visualizations on the wall, and chart progress. Many will also want to review the information on their computers and mobile devices. Maybe they’ll look at the screens while drinking their morning coffee, before a meeting or during their travels.
Keep their screens simple, concise, consistent and easy to absorb; avoid clutter. Visualizations are beautiful displays that can be segmented and filtered so they can quickly get to granular data points. But do senior leaders need or want that much information?
With the best of intentions, sometimes it turns out that executives just don’t have the time to review metrics on a consistent basis and in a meaningful way. I have had several C-suite clients who have loved the bells and whistles of colorful screens and been excited about having all the data at their fingertips, but ended up calling me within a few weeks to say their days are too busy for the experience after all.
So what are the best metrics for your CCO and CEO?
Metrics for the C-Suite
A recommended best practice is to give the C-Suite access to all of the real-time information, and also deliver daily highlights – even more often in the event of breaking news and/or a crisis. As mentioned, connecting metrics to your brand’s business and communications goals is essential. Focus on those that matter most to senior leaders and will fit on one to two screens, or on one page that they can digest quickly.
Ask yourself: how much of the data is worthy of a C-suite discussion? What fact-based outcomes will demonstrate brand reputation and awareness, or speak to the bottom line? Which metrics will provide golden nuggets that company spokespeople can use in speeches and presentations, and can be shared with the sales and marketing groups?
Next, have a conversation with your senior leaders. Ask them what they want to see. Guide them by flagging your answers to the questions just listed above. Keep in mind that they don’t usually care much about vanity metrics, such as an increase in followers or fans, although there are exceptions. More likely, they are interested in business, financial and reputation metrics.
A good example comes from Ray Kerins, an SVP at Bayer, who presents his company’s CEO and divisional presidents with a single page containing the top 10 indicators of Bayer’s reputation. He told PR Week: “Anytime they ask questions, we will bring more data back if they want it.”
Here is a list of possibilities to discuss with your leadership.
– Corporate or brand reputation metrics include market and thought leadership references, executive visibility, and endorsements.
– Word associations are helpful — words that are most frequently aligned with your brand. But don’t count press releases or your numbers will be skewed.
– Executives also tend to be responsive to message pull-through, increased web traffic to pages that drive revenue, and how results support their business goals.
– The C-Suite typically wants to know how your company stacks up against competition, emerging trends and whether data suggests negative market changes or risk. it is imperative to report on strong negative feelings in social media, so a plan can be quickly developed to avoid a crisis and a potential reputation nightmare.
– The voice of consumers usually grabs their attention. Brand preference demonstrates when consumers state a preference for your brand over others in the marketplace; better yet, they endorse your brand as the best. Recommendations go one step further because consumers not only prefer your brand, but they recommend it to others.
– Purchase interest and intent, along with customer loyalty and satisfaction, are other metrics that shine a light on consumer opinion. Purchase interest is a stated interest in buying a product, while purchase intent is a stated intention to buy it.
– When possible, connect communications efforts to the company’s bottom line; for example, sales and lead conversion metrics. Since those numbers might be small, be sure to track them over time to see growth.
Of note, the results must be analyzed by the command center team for insights, recommendations and new opportunities. The best reaction I’ve ever received from a CCO was to thank me for giving him data-based suggestions that could be discussed with his CEO to drive future strategy.
Getting data is easy. Getting the right data, accurately and quickly, is the key to gaining the attention of executives. The C-Suite wants real-time, meaningful information at a glance, so they can jump on a new trend or make strategic, future business decisions.
To learn more about how you can incorporate a Command Center environment for your communications and marketing teams, download the white paper, “The Mission Control Mandate for Today’s Chief Communications Officer.”
Margot Sinclair Savell is an award-winning writer who has decades of experience crafting and editing content. During 15 years at agencies such as Hill+Knowlton Strategies and Weber Shandwick, she specialized in strategic counsel for measurement, insights and analytics. In 2016, she was inducted into the PR Measurement Hall of Fame.