We’re writing a whitepaper on income generation in comms teams. In a sneak peak at the results a surprise conclusion emerges.
By Dan Slee
There’s a famous saying I like to quote from an American statistician who rebuilt the Japanese economy post-1945 from rubble of war.
“Without data,” he once said, “You are nothing more than another person with an opinion.”
It’s an unusually snappy line for a numbers man. It’s also a line that I’ve thought of more than once as I sift through the data from a major survey we’ve carried out with the nice folk at Granicus. The full results will be published in a whitepaper I’m writing with Darren Caveney. It will be published at Granicus’ annual event in September. The event is free. Myself and Darren are comparing. You really should come. You can register here.
A sneak peak at survey numbers
Here are three sets of data. Firstly, on budgets. More than 60 per cent of public sector comms teams have seen their budgets fall. A fifth stay the same and just 13 per cent have seen an increase. What’s the data saying? Times are hard for most people.
There’s a pile of data on income targets. There is a pile of ideas we’ve gathered on where to generate revenue that we’ll include in the whitepaper. But less than 20 per cent of teams have income targets. Worryingly, feedback from those that have them isn’t great. They are difficult. They are time-consuming. Strikingly, teams don’t have the skills. As one survey respondent said: ‘How can a journalist turned press officer become a salesperson overnight?’ What does the data say? Income targets are hard. But they are not universal yet.
An idea emerges from the data: income targets as a force for good
If the data says income targets are not universal, there is time to shape things. Mulling over the data a clear idea emerged. The world has changed. We know that. We are being asked to chip-in financially to make a difference to the organisation we serve. Some people are great at bringing in money. It has been great to gather the case studies around this. But shouldn’t we as comms people be playing to our strengths?
Instead of trying to sell ads on your website to your local leisure centre wouldn’t we be better served using our time to do what we are good at? Good comms that would make a difference? So, does a campaign that maybe saves £20,000 of calls centre time have a role in this new world?
This doesn’t mean business as usual. What I’m starting to think is good evaluated comms that has a financial measurement must be part of the answer. So, the campaign to drive traffic to the website instead of the calls centre could and should be measured in pounds, shillings and pence. What’s the average length of a call you are encouraging people not to make? What’s the cost of that? How many went to the website instead? And – this is key – what is the saving in officer time and the value of that time. All this can and should be counted.
Suddenly, it starts to be clear that the dead-weight of income targets can work to comms advantage. People complain about not having a voice at the top table or being taken seriously as professionals. So, if finance support an approach of evaluating comms this could be a game changer. Yes, evaluation like this isn’t easy. But if you have the support of finance, maybe it becomes a little easier.
Yes, but what do finance people think?
Testing the water with finance people so far the feedback has been positive. Would finance listen to the comms team who offered an income target of evaluated comms? Surprisingly, they would.
“We’d far rather people used their skills to make a difference,” one said, “than have to re-train or bring new people in with all the on-cost that entails.”
Our whitepaper will be published at Granicus’ Public Sector Communications Conference in London on September 26. You can register and attend for free by clicking through here. You'll get a free copy of the finished whitepaper.
Dan Slee is co-founder of comms2point0.
Picture credit: images money / flickr.