The research at the International PR Research Conference in March includes several items from Dr. Ansgar Zerfaß of the University of Leipzig, who, as has become usual, is at the vanguard of public relations research. These three papers are leading our practice – and deserve much more notice among those of us who do the work. They join several others that I covered previously.
I’ve written before about the need for practitioners to embrace the academic professionals who are researching our field. Zerfaß brought with him Ph.D. student Sophia Charlotte Volk, who shared two papers co-authored with him (and won a heap of research awards at the conference, including this one) that I’ll briefly describe in successive posts. Talking with Ansgar and Sophia was terrific, and I learned a lot from them.
The Communication Value Circle — Introducing a multi-disciplinary framework for aligning communication with corporate strategy. (Zerfaß & Dr. Christine Viertmann) This research project explores the theories and concepts that explain communication value in the context of business, and identifies and arranges in a system communication goals, and links them to corporate goals. This latter portion of the project establishes that communication contributes to overall business objectives in four ways:
- Enabling operations through publicity, customer preferences and employee commitment;
- Building intangibles through reputation, brand and corporate culture;
- Ensuring flexibility of a corporation through establishing and maintaining relationships with stakeholders, and building trust and legitimacy, and
- Adjusting strategy through thought leadership, innovation potential and crisis resilience.
This work begins to codify, clearly, not only how to describe the impact and value of organizational communication, but to build measurement strategies to demonstrate it.
- “Enabling operations” speaks to organizational effectiveness, productivity, and sales leadership and the measurement of each.
- “Building intangibles” can give input to balanced scorecard figures on nonfinancial indicators.
- The point on building and maintaining relationships suggests measuring the strengths of those relationships.
- The most important, to me, is “adjusting strategy.” Measurement isn’t only about proving value, it’s about actionable intelligence that allows organizations to course-correct.
Stay tuned for other posts on the IPRRC 2016 research.