Meet Allyson Hugley, Vice President, Analytics & Market Research, Global Communications at Prudential Financial, and one of the fantastic speakers that will be taking the stage at Zignal Summit 2019 on April 25th.

Ahead of the event, we spoke with Allyson to learn a little more about her background, her thoughts on the communications industry and why she’s excited for Zignal Summit 2019.

Q: What was your first job?

A: My very first job was delivering newspapers, so I guess I was destined for a career in communications. My first job after college was as a research associate for a global market research firm, Roper Starch Worldwide. It was an amazing foundational experience where I was exposed to master data storytellers and the best minds in research. The data analysis and presentation skills I acquired at Roper have benefitted me throughout my career.

Q: How did you get into the communications industry?

A: My former boss at Roper Starch joined Manning Selvage & Lee, now MSLGROUP, to establish an insight creation practice. She needed a number two who could help her set up and grow an insights function to support a global network. I was intrigued by the opportunity to build a team and capability within a company and an industry that was just beginning to appreciate the value of data, measurement and analytics.

Q: How has the industry changed since you first started?

A: The appreciation for and application of data within communications has increased 10-fold since I joined the PR industry almost a decade and a half ago. Analytics within communications has gone from a peripheral support function and cost-center to a function central to business growth and protection, with solid profit center potential on the agency side. Further, robust and sophisticated communications analytics capabilities are no longer differentiating – they are expectations within both agency and client organizations.

Q: How has that change challenged or impacted your work?

A: While the changes have required stretching and constant reskilling, I prefer to frame them as opportunities rather than challenges. At Prudential, we are very focused on the evolving nature of work and the increasing importance of data-driven and tech-enabled functions and decision processes. Analytics done well, with speed and scale, opens a range of paths for communications functions to climb up organizational credibility and value creation curves.

Further, communications is quickly evolving from a function that consumes and responds to organizational data to a function equipped to lead in the creation of enterprise intelligence with a focus on critical function priorities such as issues and reputation management.

Q: What are you most excited for as the industry continues to evolve?

A: What I find most exciting is the opportunity to collaborate with a range of colleagues both within and outside of marketing and communications roles who are leaders within the analytics professional community. The breaking down of silos used to focus primarily on the silos between marketing and PR. Now, the breaking down of silos transcends the enterprise, giving rise to new data project incubation, knowledge sharing and capabilities deployment paths – resulting in more dynamic solutions creation and skills development.

Q: What advice do you have for other communications professionals?

A: Develop your quantitative analysis, data storytelling and data visualization skills. Learn to work and communicate effectively with creatives, quants and technologists to unlock opportunities to develop and apply data solutions. Be naturally curious and commit to continuous learning. Communications channels and analytics technologies are constantly evolving and shortening skills and knowledge lifecycles. Constant technical reskilling is the only way to stave off irrelevance.

Q: What are you most excited about for Zignal Summit 2019?

A: I’m looking forward to learning about Zignal’s evolving capabilities and having an opportunity to engage with and learn from other Zignal clients. The more we push the platform, the more it feels like we are just scratching the surface in terms of capabilities used, the potential depth of the partnership and the value created for Prudential’s businesses.

Excited to hear more from Allyson? Register for Zignal Summit 2019 here.