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Business Essentials for Strategic Communicators

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Business Essentials for Strategic Communicators

  1. 1. Business Essentials for Strategic Communicators Research, Resources and Results Ron Culp and Matt Ragas, Ph.D. January 15, 2015
  2. 2. AGENDA • Research • Resources and Results • Q&A
  3. 3. RESEARCH
  4. 4. Arthur W. Page Society is a professional association of 500+ senior corporate communicators--Chief Communication Officers (CCOs), agency CEOs and top academics. Page Up, a Page Society affiliated organization for emerging leaders, was founded in 2013. About the Page Society
  5. 5. Review three recent studies • Page Society member survey • Page Jam (Page Society and Page Up members) • Page Up pre-conference poll
  6. 6. About the Survey Representative survey of the Page Society membership was conducted in Spring 2013 by DePaul University Matt Ragas, Ph.D. and Ron Culp A total of 116 responses received; effective response rate of 28% Nearly 7 out of 10 (68.2%) respondents had more than 25 years of experience
  7. 7. Importance of “Business 101” as Part of Training and Education In your opinion, how important is it that strategic communications professionals today have a solid grounding in “Business 101” as part of their education and training? Extremely important 84.5% (n = 98) Very important 13.8% (n = 16) Moderately important 1.7% (n = 2) Slightly important 0.0% Not at all important 0.0%
  8. 8. Do Colleges and Universities Provide Effective “Business 101” Training? In your experience, do colleges and universities do enough to provide strategic communication students with an intermediate understanding of business concepts and terminology? No 81.9% (n = 95) Yes 1.7% (n = 2) Not sure 16.4% (n = 19)
  9. 9. Business 101 topics Percentage (%) Financial statement basics 74.8% Financial terminology primer 69.6% Communication's contribution to company strategy 39.1% S.E.C. and public company disclosure requirements 33.9% Corporate governance basics 20.9% Basics of the stock market and its various players 19.1% Corporate reputation management basics 15.7% Economic indicators primer 10.4% Review of the major types of stakeholders 8.7% Relationship of PR/advertising with corp. comm. 6.1% Corporate social responsibility/sustainability basics 5.2% Careers for communicators with business knowledge 3.5% Major differences between public & private companies 3.5% Employee compensation terminology 2.6% Notes: n = 116 respondents. Respondents were asked to "check off what you believe are the three most important topics to cover as part of a 'business 101' for strategic communicators curriculum." The percentages represent these totals.
  10. 10. Page Jam on the Future of the CCO In Fall 2014, Page Society held a live, online brainstorm – a “Jam” – on the future of the CCO. The Page Jam included Page Society and Page Up members. Platform created by IBM.
  11. 11. Page Jam – A Dissertation in Two Days! More than 200 communications leaders from three continents participated in a 48-hour window—38,000 words on the Future of Communications
  12. 12. Critical Talent and Skills You have received authorization and funding to create three new positions. What positions will you create and why? SHARE: What are the job descriptions — roles, responsibilities, outcomes? What are the characteristics of the ideal candidates — professional skills, "soft skills," background, etc.? Imagine that you are interviewing the ideal candidates for these roles. They ask you, "What will you look for a year from now to know if I've been successful in this new role?“ REFLECT: Why do you now have the need for these roles and people? Page Jam Sample Question
  13. 13. “Unless we each understand how our companies make money, how they grow or gain market share, and how they compete directly in the marketspace, our story-telling is likely to come off as superficial or shallow.” James S. O’Rourke, professor of management, University of Notre Dame “It is critical for communications professionals to truly understand the business(es) they support – and to have sufficient business acumen to be credible as strategic partners to other C-suite and senior operational leaders.” Susan Kahn, former SVP, communications, Target “From a staff standpoint, I'd like to see stronger business acumen among junior and mid-level talent - they might have the digital chops and story-building skills, but the critical thinking skills are usually where development and coaching are most needed.” Kelly Groehler, VP, communications Berkshire Hathaway Energy “As a profession we have collectively agreed for a long time that business acumen is a critical - but often lacking - skill in our teams. What tangible steps are we taking to change this?” Marjorie Benzkofer, senior partner, FleishmanHillard “There is a limited knowledge of business, finance, operations, etc. among the PR folks I know…On the larger point - YES - future CCOs will have to have leadership skills and business acumen beyond what they may need today.” Jen Prosek, managing partner, Prosek Partners 13 “When I think about my relationship with the different CEOs and chairmen I’ve worked with, it was probably my business acumen more than my communication skills that most strengthened the bond between us.” John Onoda, senior consultant, FleishmanHillard Comments On Business Acumen From Page Jam
  14. 14. If you could transfer out of communications right now for two years, what function would you transfer to in order to optimally add to your value as a communication leader upon your return to that post? Page Up Pre-Conference Survey: Fall 2014 Results Notes: n = 48 respondents.
  15. 15. Page Up Pre-Conference Poll: Fall 2014 Results Please rank in order of most important (1) to least important (10). Rank Personal Competency Survey AVG 1 Deep understanding of business strategy 3.3 2 Trusted advisor to senior leaders 3.5 3 Business acumen 3.8 4 Learning agility 5.6 5 Builds relationships and networks 5.7 6 Navigates ambiguity well 5.7 7 Champions innovation and change 5.8 8 Exerts influence beyond positional authority 6.0 9 Talent champion 6.1 10 Demonstrates resource stewardship 9.5 Notes: n = 52 respondents. Lower average scores indicate greater importance.
  16. 16. Page Up Pre-Conference Poll: Fall 2014 Results Please rank in order of most important (1) to least important (10). Rank Team Competency Survey AVG 1 Storytelling/Brand Journalism 2.9 2 Enterprise/Corporate Strategic Planning 2.9 3 Data Analytics & Measurement 3.7 4 Enterprise Stakeholder Engagement Effort 4.4 5 Social and Digital Monitoring and Engagement (Social Business) 4.4 6 Development and Execution of Owned Media Strategy 5.1 7 Behavioral Science 5.4 8 Agency Partnerships/Management 7.2 Notes: n = 52 respondents. Lower average scores indicate greater importance.
  17. 17. Page Up Pre-Conference Poll: Fall 2014 Results Please rank in order of most important (1) to least important (10). Rank Outcome Survey AVG 1 Communications Drives Business Growth 2.1 2 Leadership of Transformational Change 2.2 3 Leverages Research and Measurement to Create Insights that Drive Outcomes 3.2 4 Navigate/Collaborate Globally and through Complex Organizations 3.4 5 Facilitate Internal & External Dialogue through Technology 4.1 Notes: n = 50 respondents. Lower average scores equal greater importance.
  18. 18. RESOURCES AND RESULTS Top 10 Ideas for Building Business Acumen Across Your Teams
  19. 19. 1. Review your Business Model with your Team How does your company and client make or lose money? Does everyone on your team understand what drives your business?
  20. 20. 2. Create an In-House Professional Development Program Beam Suntory Business Academy • Commercial Acumen • Crucial Conversations • Taste of Beam Established 2012 - 900+ employees
  21. 21. “The course gave me a better understanding of how management, customers and shareholders view the business. It helped me to realize how my decisions impact the total company.” “I feel more comfortable in discussions with Finance. I have a clearer understanding of the impact of inventory and accounts receivable and payable on the business.” “The Acumen class gave me a greater insight into the balance of responsibilities and burdens carried by Finance, Treasury (as a distinct subset of Finance) … “I feel able to communicate financial results and reports to my team confidently and answer questions they may have.” Employee Engagement
  22. 22. 3. Develop an External Professional Development Program Edelman ‘Mini-MBA’ Program • Spring 2015 Pilot • Several dozen senior executives • 8-month program (three modules and capstone project)
  23. 23. 4. Get Everyone in the Habit of Reading and Discussing Great Business Journalism
  24. 24. 5. Quarterly Earnings Release and Coverage Read, compare and discuss quarterly earnings coverage and quarterly earnings releases
  25. 25. 6. Check Out Investing Education Platforms
  26. 26. 7. Watch and Discuss TV Shows and Short Films about Business and the Economy
  27. 27. 8. Read and Discuss Michael Lewis Books
  28. 28. 9. Books for non-MBAs on Business 101 and More
  29. 29. 10. Last but not Least: “Business Essentials for Strategic Communicators”
  30. 30. CONTACT Ron Culp Instructor and Professional Director PR & Advertising Graduate program DePaul University Principal Culp & Company LLC rculp2@depaul.edu (312) 362-6212 culpwrit.com | @culpwrit Matt Ragas, Ph.D. Assistant Professor and Academic Director PR & Advertising graduate program DePaul University Principal, Matthew Ragas & Associates mragas@depaul.edu (312) 362-6003 @mattragas Presentation designed by: Meg Wheaton Marketing Lead Gagen MacDonald m.wheaton@gagenmac.com (312) 952-2136 @megmarkets

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