How Communications Can Play a Strategic Role in B2B Organizations
It’s a function that in many cases tends to be either overlooked, taken for granted, or treated as “out of sight, out of mind”. Now more than ever, communications play such a crucial role within B2B organizations in a way that brings employees together and creates alignment.
Join us in this week’s conversation with Guerlyne Guercy (Communications Manager – People & Communities, Cisco) as we discuss the vital role that communications professionals play within an organization. Guerlyne discusses her perspectives on how communications has changed, what mistakes to avoid, the importance of conducting research and having the right strategy, how to deal with internal pushback, and what metrics to focus on.
Topics discussed in this episode:
Christian Klepp, Guerlyne Guercy
Christian Klepp 00:00
Welcome to B2B Marketers on a Mission, a podcast for B2B marketers that helps you to question the conventional, think differently, disrupt your industry, and take your marketing to new heights. Each week, we talk to B2B marketing experts who share inspirational stories, discuss our thoughts and trending topics, and provide useful marketing tips and recommendations. And now, here’s your host and co-founder of EINBLICK Consulting, Christian Klepp. Welcome, everyone to this episode of the B2B Marketers on a Mission podcast where you get your weekly dose of B2B marketing insights. This is your host Christian Klepp. And today I am joined by someone… Oh, this is a new one for me on a communications crusade to help develop comprehensive and effective messaging across the organization. So coming to us from Dallas, Texas, Miss Guerlyne Guercy Welcome to the show.
Guerlyne Guercy 00:50
Hi, Christian, thank you so much for having me here today. Honored.
Christian Klepp 00:54
It’s great to be connected Guerlyne and, you know, I’ve loved all of our conversations so far. And I’m looking forward to diving in on this topic, because this is something that you’re very passionate about, you know, and I’ve got some experience in this field as well. But um, you know, today, it’s about you. So let’s go. So, let’s focus on the topic of the strategic role that people in communications play within a B2B organization. I know that sounds a bit like a mouthful, but it’s a function that in many cases, and correct me if I’m wrong, it tends to be either overlooked, taken for granted, or treated as out of sight, out of mind. So why do you think the communications role is so important?
Guerlyne Guercy 01:38
Yeah, that’s very well said, Christian. I think as we look at communications, now, it’s more important than ever, especially considering the times that we’re in, coming through the pandemic, there has been a greater need for companies to advocate with more transparency, more clarity, more precision in the way that they show up corporately, but also when most importantly, with their employees. So communications can no longer be something that is out of sight, out of mind. And now more than ever, corporations are more responsible for what they’re saying and how they’re showing up in the marketplace. And the communications function is a real engine behind that. Because you’re not just going to show up to say a couple of words, you need to show up authentically and strategically with your messaging and transparently, because now there’s more accountability, more than ever.
Christian Klepp 02:28
Probably for the best too, if I might add.
Guerlyne Guercy 02:31
I would agree with that. I would
Christian Klepp 02:32
Yeah. Do you think, at least, maybe let’s just zero in on your organization, Right? Um, do you think that it was because of the pandemic, but the communications role has gotten a bit more limelight? Or were there some other factors at play there?
Guerlyne Guercy 02:49
I believe that there were already factors that were at play, I think, for everyone, the pandemic in itself just kind of pushed those factors forward. I think there’s always been under curdling where there was a need for more communication, more frequent communication, more transparent. And I’m not saying that my company wasn’t already doing so. But now it had to be increased at a velocity and a scale that it wasn’t at before. So as we’re looking at these times, as we’re looking at where we are, for my company, specifically, we just had to really go all in. And we changed a lot of our modes of communication from not just sending out emails, but now we’re having like, let’s talks and all hands and pulling in the right experts and personas that need to be there to address what those concerns generally are, so that we’re getting people information in real time, quickly, as transparently as we can do it. And that’s how we’re trying to put forth those modes.
Christian Klepp 03:49
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. You actually just made me think of a question, if I may throw that one at you. If you if you can, just let’s think about like what happened, pre pandemic, and then when the pandemic happened, and the current situation, how do you think the communications role, at least in your organization, rather, how do you think it’s changed?
Guerlyne Guercy 04:13
Sure, most of my insight that I can offer in my organization is from the vantage point of during pandemic, because that’s when I joined on specifically to present. But I can also share a little bit of what I’ve heard before, which is kind of echoing what I’ve mentioned already, and that there was just a lack of clarity. And then there was a lack of just getting in the forefront of, of getting in front of our internal employees and with our own strategies. So by the time we’re coming into the pandemic, which is again, my vantage point, we’ve established some cadences of how we reached out to our internal employees, but we also had to finetune it because it went in a form of excess where it was probably too much. And then we were overlapping in some of the modes and the channels that we use to communicate. In some senses that could work, but because there was so much overlap, we had to now peel back into, you know, what, what is really effective at this point? What is, you know, I don’t know that you can over communicate per se, but it’s, you’re looking into some time sucks now. So it’s like, Oh, if we already have an all hands that addresses this, do we need one that does this also? Okay, that’s too much overlap because, you know, we’re also looking into a culture of, you know, fatigue, video fatigue, and all those things. So you need to be cognizant and mindful of, you know, which way would be the most digestible for people to receive information now. So it will start from a point of kind of being overly done, then it can be further niche down and curtailed into now that we have a little bit more insight and employee listening into how people are receiving that information, how our employees are responding to it. Now we can move with that understanding now in place.
Christian Klepp 05:54
Yeah, well, those, those are definitely some interesting insights there. And of course, there’s something there that I will say we could get to in a later point of the conversation in terms of the preferred platforms or mediums. And that’s, and that’s, and I’m not saying preferred platforms, in terms of what the communications team prefers to use, I’m actually referring to like, the platforms that the users would like to absorb this content and information on, right. Okay. Um, and you’ve probably seen a bit of this, but talk to us about some of the common mistakes that marketers make when it comes to communication, and what can be done to address these.
Guerlyne Guercy 06:32
When I think about marketers, and I think we’ve been on the end of receiving information from fellow marketers out there, outside of actually producing it, we have received it. And from my standpoint, and also, I’m not entirely a marketer, I’m more in the communications sector directly, internally. But what I can say is, I’ve just seen this kind of lack of cognizance with their audience, as it relates to this, this marketing messaging. And it’s, it just comes in at an altitude that is just a mess. So I think if I could point out one thing, and that might fold into maybe a later question and discussion point, but I would just say this, this lack of cognizance around who your audience is, and who you’re speaking to. And then secondly, personalization. There is a real lack of personalization. Sometimes, I believe, you know, we’ve found out that there’s so many systems that we can utilize, to kind of scale out our messaging, especially as marketers, you can… there’s so many like automated apps that you could use, but then it’s sometimes we’re using at the expense of the personalization. And as we look at the times we’re in, as we consider, like social selling and social outreach that you can implement into your strategies, you have to come in with something personalized to get that person’s attention to get that click, to get that open. And I think we often sacrifice the personalization for the scale, which is something that should definitely be remedied.
Christian Klepp 08:03
Yeah, you brought up a really interesting point. And I think it’s, it’s a pattern that I’ve seen, just in my experience working with corporate… Do you think that that’s, that’s an issue that a lot of corporations struggle with – this lack of personalization? And going back to your point, um, they, they want to do the communication at scale. So they, you know, they use that as the, for lack of a better word, excuse not to personalize?
Guerlyne Guercy 08:28
Yeah, I think it could be used as an excuse in in some senses. But equally, I think there’s some other factors at play when we look, corporately. There’s also a very large premium now on inclusivity. And the way in which you have to have your outreach efforts and how you reach out to a certain audience, you have to be mindful of doing it inclusively, and pronouns now, and things of that nature. And, you know, when you have some of those areas, that you just have to be mindful of, it sometimes might stifle some of the creativity of the outreach, which I can completely understand. But equally, you’re representing a corporation, and you have to be mindful of how the corporation is showing up. And in doing so, that will have you remove some language that you might think is okay, but because you have to remember the umbrella of the corporation, you have to forego that.
Christian Klepp 09:22
Absolutely, absolutely. I mean, it’s, you know, certainly an exercise in which you can’t really please everybody, but you have to find a compromise, to a certain extent. Yeah. For the next question, you kind of brought this up already. And I think one of the, it was one of these concerns or these issues, right about like, the lack of understanding of who the target audience is or who the recipient of this piece of communications is. Right. So talk to us, based on your experience about why it’s important to have a strategy and conduct research before implementing a communications plan, especially if supposed to be an effective one?
Guerlyne Guercy 10:02
Agreed. So when I think about that, we think about the audience and a terminology that I use all the time is getting the right altitude. So for me where my role sits, I’m in executive communications. And I supported one of our senior executives, but equally, the audience that I’m primarily going to be, you know, providing that strategy and communication towards our senior level leaders. So I have to dial in on understanding what level of leadership are we speaking to, and then further dial into on that persona, once you’ve identified that persona – What are their care-abouts? So if you are taking, for example, you know, a director at this level, okay, what is their purview? What is under them? What are some of their problem areas, and then that understanding where your audience is, will let you know, as you’re preparing your messaging to that, and then putting in the right altitude to it, because you can’t get too much into the weeds when said person that you’re reaching out to is not necessarily in the weeds. And then that then ties into what is the call to action to here, to this now, it’s, you know, are you trying to inspire them to go into some type of enablement process? Is this just simply to inform them? is it to let them know this is just the resource? Is this a, an organizational announcement of some type of change? That’s when now you’re going down that list, but starting primarily at what is the audience and what is the altitude? And for my audience wheelhouse, which generally is leadership, I tried to often think about, what is the best way to do so with the most brevity. And brevity is one of the tenants of communication that are super important from a corporate standpoint, because you can’t, you can’t necessarily overdo it, brevity is pretty much King.
Christian Klepp 11:59
I couldn’t agree more. And I can tell you also why I couldn’t agree more, because I went through the baptism of fire when it came to brevity, because in a previous role, I was working closely with the marketing communications team in the APAC region. And they asked me to like write up interviews and write up speeches, and some of the feedback that will sometimes come back is Christian, you got to make this shorter.
Guerlyne Guercy 12:31
Too wordy, too wordy.
Christian Klepp 12:32
Too wordy, and especially, and you’re absolutely right. You know, that really resonated with what you said a couple of minutes ago, um, the more senior the person gets…
Guerlyne Guercy 12:43
Christian Klepp 12:44
In terms of the developing their communication, the shorter that communication should be, it should be succinct, to the point, it should be backed up with facts where relevant, right. But there’s another thing that I was thinking about, as you were giving your answer, and it’s about in one way or another. It’s a fine balance between storytelling, and also trying to stick with and I think you brought this up earlier, the voice of the company. Can you talk to that a little bit, because I know that that can be challenging too.
Guerlyne Guercy 13:24
Yes, happily. And I want to also just put in another tenant to that too, as well, on that previous portion, so talked about worthiness and gravity, right. But for me, specifically, in my role as I, in a sense, I’m representing an executive, a senior executive, when you are overly wordy, I’m being mindful of our company standard, but equally you are now… we have a senior executive here, if we are using too much fluff and too much word, you have to think about what that conveys, because you’re also thinking as a reader, and you know, you’re putting yourself in the shoes of who’s reading that, that can also convey doubt in a leader by excessive wordiness, your overuse of some prepositions here, like those things, I have to be dialed in on so that I’m preserving the integrity of my leader, as much as I’m preserving the integrity of the company, because I also have to be mindful of where some of those landmines could be in how we position ourselves. And equally, the perception that can be made here. I’ve often had to draft a certain communications announcements, things of that nature. And at first pass, okay, and at second pass, I had to say, you know, what we might, there might be some perceived favoritism, if we say this, if we phrase this this way, and I’ll just make those call outs so that we can come to a decision but it’s my job to be mindful of the connotation that’s going to be taken. To your point about going into storytelling and having the voice of the company. There’s two voices on matching – I’m matching the unique style of my executives that I represent. So you want to be authentic in that way. And then secondly, for the voice of the company is really the purpose of the company, which has to be embedded in the strategy and all of our communications. So at Cisco our, our purpose is to power an inclusive future for all. So I have to be mindful that as I’m matching the style of my executive, I’m equally matching the purpose of what Cisco is, which is, as I’ve mentioned, about an inclusive future for all. So that has to be embedded in the messaging style and the landing, the delivery, and again, the overall strategy.
Christian Klepp 15:35
Yeah, that was a great answer. And I think it’s definitely… I’m just sorry, I’m just grining a little bit like I couldn’t agree more. It’s definitely more challenging to write something that’s to the point and brief but yet delivers that same impact, right. Versus drafting something that’s a bit like you said verbose, or it’s just chock full of like bombastic words, or corporate abbreviations, right. Like, there’s the whole, there’s the whole like, acronym piece, right?
Guerlyne Guercy 16:12
Oh, my God, we used to have a rule on our team that was no acronym soup here to explain everything, which is super helpful. But like, I remember coming on and being inundated by acronyms. And steadily, I became that an acronym user, and I’m just like, Oh, my goodness, I’m leaving people behind now. I am now that person, let me do better.
Christian Klepp 16:35
Yeah. You just get sucked into that trend as well. Don’t you.
Guerlyne Guercy 16:39
Christian Klepp 16:40
Yeah. Yeah, no, exactly. Exactly. Um, yeah. Being in the type of role that you’re in. I’d imagine that especially when it comes to communications initiatives, you have to…I suppose it comes to the territory, you have to know how to deal with pushback. So any piece of advice you have for other communications professionals out there that are struggling with okay, how do I deal with that internal pushback? And how do I deal with it in a way that’s constructive?
Guerlyne Guercy 17:08
Mm. Yeah. When it comes to pushback, I feel like you should be, you should be prepared for it. Equally, I think as a communications professional, you should be prepared for not all of your words and things to be accepted. Not to say that it’s bad, it’s just it may not be… it may be a not now. I personally have written announcements and communications. And I’m just like, Oh, that was super well fed Guerlyne. I like what you… wait, this is me talking to myself, Chris, just like, Oh, that was good. This was it. I am just hyping myself up, I kick it over. And it’s like, Oh, do we need to say that? I’m like, darn I really liked that one. But I’m not going to say, I’m not going to fight that because at the end of the day, you are, you know, you are providing kind of a skeleton of words. And you know, trying to get to a style as well as a direction. And you have to just be elastic, that’s the best thing I can say be elastic, be flexible. And as a creative because it’s really you’re serving in a creative function as a creative, you have to trust that you can be equally inspired again. And that even if it’s not a now, it’s not now that that creativity can come back for the right time and for the right purposes. So I started to think of the words that I produce, and then things that I create. Now, as you know what, if this works, it works. But I trust my innate creative ability to do this again, and to do it to the satisfaction once again if I need to, but it just may be a not now. And as far as pushback, I think it also needs to be understood within your roles and communications, you are in a very influential standing. So you are offering some suggestions for direction, I recommend providing options. A lot of the leaders I’ve supported have responded to options. When you provide options, you are showing some of your stylistic breadth, but equally, that’s influential because you’re saying hey, you can go this direction, you can go that direction, and you’re using some shoe fitting, because again, you’re supporting…. I am but I’m speaking to that person who may be doing something similar. You are supporting a certain leader who may have their own style that you need to respect and you need to support. So again, being elastic, be flexible, trust your innate creativity, it’s going to come back and you also have to just shed the fact that it’s also not you, you know, if you have your own pursuits, those things will stick but even if you went to an editor, you know with your own stuff or whatever have you, there is a bit of a shedding process for the sake of what the ultimate goal is and what the ultimate messaging is going to be.
Guerlyne Guercy 19:48
Absolutely absolutely. I love how you use the shoe analogy. You kind of gave it away they’re like so how many pairs do you own? (laugh) But you brought, you brought up so many great points. And I’d like to go back to a couple of them. One of them being that it’s not about you. And I just remember going back to my advertising days, and one of the guys that mentored me through my first years in the industry was a copy based creative director. And one of the best pieces of advice he ever gave me is, in an internal review, leave your ego at the door.
Guerlyne Guercy 20:48
Christian Klepp 20:49
Right? Don’t get defensive, don’t get angry, take the criticism, especially if it’s to help make you better and improve. And I think that, you know, what you just said earlier, that’s such a great attitude to have. And it’s an important one, right? Because especially in bigger and bigger companies, you tend to go with go through… I would, I would hazard a guess, multiple layers of approval.
Guerlyne Guercy 21:10
Christian Klepp 21:11
Before you get the green light.
Guerlyne Guercy 21:13
Yes, and one of the things that kind of helped me now that I’ve, you know, I’ve built up a little bit more of a regimen and can flex some more muscles in this industry now. It was hard for me to understand at first, I was just so married to what I wrote. But as soon as I stopped getting defensive, started looking at it more loosely, you know, you have to understand, it’s probably going to go through a couple different hands. So it’s going to potentially lose some of what you started with. But if I go into it, knowing that some of that is going to shed, I’m not going to be as defensive either way, because it’s like, Hey, I know that this is not the endpoint. This is in fact, a draft, a draft to get us to a point. So when I kind of adopt that mindset and that mentality, it gives me a little bit more freedom, in accepting the feedback that’s going to come because ultimately, what is the goal, the goal is to get this messaging down to where it needs to be. And for it to go out in expeditiously or in the right amount of time than it needs to. And that’s fine. But just again, remembering, it’s not about you. And that has also been. That’s just one of those things you have to learn. It’s something you have to learn. And when it comes to push back as well, I just wanted to add in there to push back should be expected. I think, again, as you’re in an influential position, you probably can advocate for whatever that strategy is or what that communication is, you can advocate for why you just adamantly think that this should be this way. And I believe that will be respected. You know, I think as you’ve gained some trust capital, with your leadership, you have done and delivered a bit more, I think you can absolutely push back from yourself, but respectfully, because you’re again, coming from a place of influence, and they’re trusting your communications expertise. So if you really feel adamantly about a certain direction, I think you should be completely empowered to very respectfully push back and say, Well, I believe that if we go this course and do X, Y, and Z, this would probably be better. And just validate your point, I have gotten into a habit of explaining my rationale on certain things, when I feel like it’s really important to do so. And it’s usually well received, I just understand it can go either way it can be taken, it could be not, I’m going to be fine. But when you explain your rationale, I think you’re also kind of solidifying your, your expertise, because at the end of the day, they’re coming to you for expertise. So they are expecting you to in some sense, give a little bit of pushback, because that’s your domain, your zone of genius. So they I think it would be well received, do expect it, be respectful. But it can give a little pushback, it won’t hurt you respectfully.
Christian Klepp 24:06
Yeah, just drop in that little caveat respectfully, alright. Don’t cry, don’t make a scene. Going back to what you said earlier, it’s definitely about not being married to a single idea, unless you feel very strongly about it, I think putting out a couple of different options is always a good approach. Because as we used to, we used to call it you know, if you’re developing content, regardless of what it is, right, you’re writing an article, you’re writing a post and so forth, there will be a bit of trimming the tree, as we call it, right? So removing this sentence, delete that word, or let’s not use that kind of like, terminology, and so on and so forth. Right. Okay. So we get to the bit in the conversation where we talk about actionable tips. And let me just set this up. Because let’s, let’s just assume that, you know, you can’t do all of this overnight, right? You know, you can’t download an app and then you know, you get you get instant results. At least I haven’t heard of it yet. But um, what are some immediate steps that people in the communications role can take to improve their work with an organization so specifically with regards to communicate So what are some quick wins? What should they focus on?
Guerlyne Guercy 25:28
I want to pad those with a disclaimer, because it’s really going to be dependent on the organization and/or function that you’re supporting, of course, their strategic and business imperatives are because anything you’re going to do, anything that you’re going to do is essentially tied to what those imperatives are. So you have to first kind of conduct your own gap analysis, your own listening expedition of sorts, if you will. And you have to at least come from that standpoint, and assuming that you are beyond your first 90 days or whatever have you. Do yourself the service of having your own listening expedition and showing that interest in what the organizations care-about’s are. Secondly, from an immediate standpoint, you would be well served to present those gaps that you have found, and what that could look like. And this is not in a way to inundate you. But if you can possibly compile some of those problem areas that you’ve heard, and maybe a suggested course of action for it. So as an example, if you have heard through your own expedition of listening, that there has been this overall need to understand what a certain function does within the function, then that might be something on your list to do. Oh, so nobody understands what this shadow group of people here do. Okay, let’s motion to provide that clarity. How would that look? Can we do an infographic? Who else do I need to talk to find out what that looks like? And showing that interest and showing that you’ve seen a gap is going to demonstrate a couple of things, one, that you are connected in the organization to what is happening, you have the interest because leading with curiosity goes such a long way. And you should be genuinely curious. But you’re demonstrating to your leadership, to the team that I am actually interested in what is happening here. Secondly, whether they take this up or not, you’re showing that you’ve identified a gap that wasn’t seen before, or it was seen before and there was no action taken. And you’re going to try to do something about it, whether it’s taken or not. It’s the display of curiosity, and identification, that is also cementing some of what your value add is. Maybe that was like not so actionable. But maybe it was. (laugh)
Christian Klepp 27:50
Open to interpretation. (laugh) No, I thought those are some really great points. And I do think that those are actionable, because certainly you have to conduct some kind of analysis or some kind of audit, because you got to start from somewhere. And you got to base your next steps on current initiatives, something that’s already been rolled out, is it working? is it not working? And I think you brought up something that was really, I thought it was so spot on, leading with curiosity, which goes back to the importance and I don’t know how you feel about this. Having that journalist’s curiosity, or looking at things from a journalistic perspective. So like, just think of the way that a news reporter would cover a story. Right? So one of the things we used to say all the time is like, okay, so this is the topic that the corporate communications team was talking about.
Guerlyne Guercy 28:45
Christian Klepp 28:45
How many… How many angles can we go at this? Right? And how many ways can you tell that story? Right? And especially in the world of B2B, sometimes you get the feeling like you look at something and, you know, at surface level, people might say, there’s probably no story here. But it’s the communications person’s role to then say, actually, that’s not true.
Guerlyne Guercy 29:09
Christian Klepp 29:11
Any thoughts on that? Like, excuse me for rambling on there, but like…
Guerlyne Guercy 28:52
No, no, you’re going somewhere Christian, I’m just going to add a little portion. You were going somewhere, um, I think the analogy of like a journalist and how they go about their story, the way they go to their sources, they’ve had this, they’ve had that. It should be that same kind of curiosity that you have. I think as you are in your exhibition of understanding the organization, i That’s why it’s hard to make it specific without knowing the organization. But I struggled with that too, even coming into my role, like, what would be a quick win, but I realized a quick win was my listening and gap analysis, because I had to get up to speed with like, what is this organization? What am I supporting? And you have the value of objectivity. You were not sitting in this function. So you’re coming in with fresh eyes, you’re coming in with fresh ears, and that objectivity is actually in itself a quick win. You know, we look for more tangible, but that is actually a super quick win. If you want to form that into something more tangible. It may look like actually asking, Hey, what has been top of mind? And that’s the question I always ask. I always to ask about top of minds, if you can pick three things, where have you been underserved? I asked about predecessors I asked about previous. Was there support here before? Oh, there wasn’t. Okay. So we’re going something new. I, I’ll take it all, I ask all the questions, because I can. Because why not? It hasn’t. It hasn’t not worked for me. It just I’ve just asked the questions because it works. And as an example, one of the first things I did, because I supported an executive, like one of my quick wins was refreshing a bio. It’s not huge, but it’s actually huge. Because in doing that, I got to learn my executive, I got to ask more questions. It happened to be that there was that need, but refreshing the bio was a quick win, because it served two purposes, I got to know my executive, I got to find out more about them, I got to give them some promotional material that they need they use etc. And that in itself was a quick win. It’s small, it’s minor, but it was a quick win.
Guerlyne Guercy 31:18
We take the victories as they come is what I always used to say.
Guerlyne Guercy 31:23
Christian Klepp 31:23
Yeah, no, but like, great point. I mean, like, definitely, being a good listener helps, right? Because, you know, when you’re in a communications role, you’re in a position where you’re collecting information. And then you are retelling the story from an angle that takes the recipient into account, the conveyor offset message into account and the organization. So it’s a bit of a it’s a bit of a delicate balance, isn’t it?
Guerlyne Guercy 31:51
Yeah, and on that point, and we touched on storytelling earlier, that we didn’t all the way to touch on it. But I want to say, it just reminded me of that, because in a communications role, I think it’s not always said how much synthesizing and collation that you’re doing, like my bread and butter is, is knowing a bit of everything. I may not know the weeds of it, but I have to know a bit of it, everything. And I have a mentor, who say to me, like, Oh, I know a little bit of everything, enough to be dangerous. And this, this mentor is not in communications, but this mentor, it goes with everything. And that’s some of what you have to do in communications. You need to just know a little bit of everything, enough to be dangerous, enough to weave a story, enough to get to what that goal is. But I think it’s really not set enough for us as communication professionals as marketer, as marketers, how much synthesizing of information, you’re taking bits from here, the collation and going through sources and etc., there is… that is, for me a large portion, by the time I actually get to write, that’s the other part but the collation, the synthesizing the what parts makes sense, that takes the majority of the mind power, right there.
Christian Klepp 33:08
Absolutely. Absolutely. You’re probably gonna love me or hate me for this next question, but metrics, love them or hate them. Alright? We have to find a way to prove to somebody, if not ourselves, that these communications initiatives are working. And back to your point about like identifying certain analyses, or areas of improvement. attribution to varying degrees is crucial. So can you talk to us about like, what metrics communications professionals should be looking out for?
Guerlyne Guercy 33:50
As far as metrics go, I would also say that that will depend on your organization, and again, what function you’re supporting. So we do have an audience of marketers. So if there’s someone who’s doing product marketing, Field Marketing, you have a b2c customer or customer base that you’re essentially being measured by. So whether it’s in clicks, whether it’s in conversions, leads later on, those are metrics that you can tie yourself to, for the ultimate success of whatever your strategy is, how that’s landing, how you’re segmenting between events, etc. So you have those kinds of metrics, which are helpful in the communication sector, if you are supporting organizationally communications, or if you’re supporting leaders, as executives, your metrics for success are going to be changing a bit, and again, based on your organization, but you’re gonna look at Oh, well, how many? What was the open rate for this, if you actually tied call to action, then that could be tied to clicks in another area. So those are other things. I know internally, we have a lot of sentiment polling and posting that we do, so we can also tie some of our success to how those polling things are going because we’ve implemented a strategy at one point so that we can provide a more regular cadence and outgoing and hopefully that yields in our internal listening, a more positive result, people are feeling more informed, etc, etc. So those are just some examples I can think of offhand but yeah, Metrics have to be king, you got to see how, how it’s going. What’s the success there? I think as you, for someone like me who’s working with an executive directly, I think sometimes those metrics can be left a little bit more opaque sometimes because it’s stylistic. So like some of my… or most of my successes in how much I am nailing my executives voice, how comfortable they’re feeling as they are going into these speaking events, as they are outputting, X, Y, and Z posts, etc. Like some of that is a direct sentiment and then filtered into the leadership that they support. So it can just change, it really depends on your function, it can it just really gonna depend on your role and what it’s tied to. But as much as you can, even if those metrics aren’t defined for you, look for some for yourself. I personally created some of my own success metrics, in a sense that I just combined. And I tried to leverage where I can leverage them. But you know, if you’re thinking of going into communications and or marketing, it should be part of your interview track, asking about what does success look like in this role, asking from your future hiring manager, how other people have been successful, what the organization’s success is tied to because as an individual contributor, who is coming in, your success rolls up to your manager success, which is tied to their managers success. So it would behoove you to absolutely ask coming into the company, and even as your enroll, look for more success metrics you can tie to for yourself.
Christian Klepp 36:56
Absolutely, absolutely. I’m curious, you know, like, um, what’s your take on metrics that are… not quantitative? Right? So if you’re talking about like, you know, everybody’s using this word, now dark social, right? Or these conversations that people are having in Slack channels, or DM’s are the you know, they asked an industry peer? Like, how much importance do you put on qualitative metrics when it comes to communication?
Guerlyne Guercy 37:30
Mm hmm. I haven’t heard that term, the dark web, you might have to go into that a little more for me?
Christian Klepp 37:34
Oh, dark social, basically are those are channels that you cannot, you cannot see, you cannot control them. And they cannot be measured by any type of attribution. Right. So some of the examples I just gave, right. So people are having conversations in Slack channels, or they’re sending, or they’re sending each other, you know, DM’s, or they’re having a discussion like you and I are having, you know, you cannot measure that, at least in a quantitative format.
Guerlyne Guercy 38:06
Yeah, I get that. Okay. Yeah, those are hard. And I’m someone who has always been in a highly metricized role as someone who’s been in sales and account management, and making a transition into communications role where there are metrics. And sometimes the qualitative portion is there, and you want more quantitative. So it’s certainly a balance of sort. And some of that is also just tied into like an overall satisfaction rate too, whether it’s like the satisfaction within the organization, some of what I’ve mentioned, with employee listening, which still can be in itself, sometimes a bit more qualitative in nature than you want it to be. But I am someone who’s a little bit more biased towards quantitative, if it could be, but understanding that communications is essentially at the core and its function, its kind of sentiment, it’s more sentiment based than it is like this input yield to this output. I have to I have to acquiesce to it.
Christian Klepp 39:12
Yeah, yeah. No, absolutely. Absolutely. I’m gonna give you a chance to get on your soapbox here, Guerlyne. And your response is gonna be like, haven’t I been on it already? Haven’t you been paying attention? A status quo in communications, right. So in your specific area of expertise, but you passionately disagree with? And why?
Guerlyne Guercy 39:45
Oh, my goodness.
Christian Klepp 39:46
Come on, off you go.
Guerlyne Guercy 39:50
I fundamentally disagree with and why Oh, my goodness. I have a couple of thoughts here. But I want to stay on course. Not do too much of a tangent. But I don’t know if this is a status quo or not. But something that I find that has come up is something that we’ve kind of already mentioned, which from a statistical perspective has been around like some of the analytics and stuff. And I don’t know that I’m so strongly against it per se, but I just I wish that it was there was a better system here, for tying some of the output in your communications efforts for you know, getting a brain reading on someone, they’re reading it like that their heart rate go up, was there this inflection here? I don’t know if that’s probably way too much. But like that, that element can be a bit frustrating because you you are producing words, as a creative, you are getting to an end a messaging style, you hope it lands. And there’s just this question mark is, is it truly, you know, not that every…. no one is revolting, and on a strike per se, but you know, it’s kind of subjective. You can read something and take a different connotation than what it intended or read into it. And to the best of our ability, we want to, you want to set a narrative. You don’t want a narrative set for you. But you also can’t control people’s interpretations as well. So I would say that portion can be a little bit frustrating. I don’t know if that rolls into a status quo. But I would consider that just a little bit of contention point of mine.
Christian Klepp 41:30
Yeah, yeah. No, I totally hear you. I mean, sometimes it’s a bit of a fine line isn’t it – like, whether whether this will resonate with somebody that’s reading it, or whether they’ll be so overcome with emotion. Probably not but um, or, or how they would respond to this particular piece, write this piece of content, right? Whether it’s a, it’s something that will really like go to the heart of the matter, and whether they’ll say, hey, you know what, I’m actually I do agree with that point. And this is totally what we’re about or whether they take a stand and say, well, that’s a controversial piece. And I totally disagree with it.
Guerlyne Guercy 42:10
Absolutely, yeah. Yeah.
Christian Klepp 42:12
Fantastic. Guerlyne. As expected. This is such a great conversation. Thank you so much for coming on. And you know, sharing your expertise and your tips with the listeners. So a quick introduction to yourself and how folks out there can get in touch with you.
Guerlyne Guercy 42:27
Certainly, thank you, again, Christian for having me this. We knew it would be a great discussion. And it was just that. It was easy to talk to you. It’s always easy. That’s half of our problem.
Christian Klepp 42:37
Yes, indeed. For better for worse.
Guerlyne Guercy 42:42
As Christian has mentioned, I am Guerlyne Guercy and you can reach me via LinkedIn, which is my full name on there. I would love to connect with you, meet you, you can easily hop into my DMs. I love meeting new people connecting and gleaning. A little bit more about me. I am currently in an executive communications role. I’ve mentioned that some of my history has been in sales and account management. So I have had the pleasure of working with marketing professionals also, while creating revenue generating revenue, upselling, cross selling, got to do all the things and I love that. When I’m not on the communications bent, I am an advocate for grief. So I am very passionate about the grief process, how we perceive loss, and we’d love to even talk to anyone about that – if you have any thoughts and questions around it. So please, if you want to reach out on all things sales or communications, I am your person for that.
Christian Klepp 43:37
Fantastic, fantastic and that is indeed if I may say so a very noble cause. Definitely not an easy topic to address. That’s for sure.
Guerlyne Guercy 43:47
Thank you, Christian.
Christian Klepp 43:49
Once again, thank you so much for coming on. So take care stay safe and talk to you soon.
Guerlyne Guercy 43:53
Christian Klepp 43:55
Okay, bye for now.
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