Why is it important for Essity to set communication goals?
"If you have no goals, there is no need to measure, and things that are not measured has a tendency to not get done at all” says Per Lorentz, vice president, corporate communications, at Essity.
– This is the short answer. It is not possible to run a business that gains credibility and legitimacy if goals are not set. How do you know if you've done something good enough if you don’t have any goals?
The communication goals should be linked to the business goals and the focus of communication at Essity is to nurture and develop the brand.
– Well-reasoned and accurate work with goals gives the organization confidence. For example; if you work with PR in a company and an unfavorable article is published it can lead to concerns internally. If you have established goals and measurement methodologies you can easily evaluate if this publicity was just a blip on the radar or something more serious by relating it towards your long term goals.
Who sets the goals for the press department?
– When I joined Essity three years ago there were well-thought-out corporate-wide goals for communication and brand issues. They had come a long way in the work with good results, but for various reasons they had not really decided what to do with the goals related to media. In particular, the traditional measures of positive/negative publicity and PR value were used.
– I early identified this as a development area and together with the team at the press department we worked out our idea and description of what media success means to us. Of course, this was connected to the brand and what success is for Essity's core business.
How do you set goals?
– I set the goals for the press department together with my employees, then I am responsible for establishing the goals with my manager, who is responsible for the entire Group's communication.
– The principles for how the goals should be formulated and what is important to measure are of course aligned with the other departments within the communications department, with a focus on nurturing and developing the brand. We are, of course, working with the SMART model.
– With Retriever, we discussed goals and methodologies back and forth for almost a year before we were satisfied. We had the luxury of testing our way through, no one was breathing down our necks.
How often do you follow up on the goals?
– Group's various communication goals is regularly presented in the group management. It should be remembered that Essity is a huge company and the communication network within Essity is large. There, too, goals and follow-ups are regularly shared at different levels. Sometimes we evaluate different efforts separately. Sometimes you need some material to support a thesis or project you want to run. Numbers and outcomes related to goals can then be used as arguments that is difficult to question.
– Furthermore, it happens that different countries or business areas within the company share goals and results as "best practice".
What are the biggest challenges in setting goals for communication?
– Finding and daring to set goals that actually correlate with, and have an impact on, the operational work in reality. It may take time. You may need to evaluate over a long period of time how the goal should be formulated and what levels to set.
Are there pitfalls to consider?
– One should think about how advanced the analysis model should be. If you make it too simple the goals don’t mean anything. If you make it too difficult it becomes too resource-intensive. At one point several years ago, I myself created an advanced analysis concept that was very extensive with control groups etc., but it became far too complicated and in the end no one understood what to do with the result. You must find your sweet spot- what you are comfortable with, that creates value and works as a means of control.
– Another pitfall is to not being transparent with your supplier, which ultimately leads to throwing both time and money down the drain.
Per Lorentz’s tips to others who want to start setting goals on their communication