Speechwriters, do you monitor the metrics on your dasboards?

I follow the exploits of all kinds of communicators, and when it comes to feigning an interest and a belief in the measurability of communication, speechwriters have always been the last to bother.

“How do I know it was an effective speech?” is the general refrain. “If the client’s happy.”

More ambitious executive communicators want more than that—they want speechwriting and other leadership communications to support the company’s strategy, rather than merely please the chief executive—but they don’t go in for “behavior change” and “ROI” nonsense that you hear from their colleagues in PR and employee communication.

So when I look through the eyes of a speechwriter at this kind of claptrap, I have to laugh.

But Tim Marklein is executive VP of measurement at the PR agency Weber Shandwick. So he has to talk this way.

“CEOs have always had an appreciation of reputation, but haven’t always had that conversation in a data-driven way with their communications officers,” Marklein told PR News recently. “I do see more of that happening now, though. I also see a trend with CMOs and CFOs and their dashboards—they are demanding good metrics from PR and corporate communications, so PR professionals need to take a hard look at their own dashboards to make sure they provide such metrics.”

In October, I spent two days with some of the best and brightest executive communicators, as I hosted Leadership Communication Days, in New York City. We talked a lot about strategy. We talked a lot about substance. We said little about metrics and the word dashboard, I can assure you, did not come up at all.

Maybe next year.

(Save the Date: Leadership Communication Days 2011 will take place Oct. 27-28, at AARP headquarters in Washington, D.C. Details and first-come-first-served registration to come soon.)

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