What Is Communication Controlling, And Why Is It Needed?
I come across various terms and ideas about communication control when I talk to communicators. On the one hand, controlling is equated with “control,” which often has to do with “success monitoring” in marketing. Controlling also evokes associations with rigid organization and the media equivalent value, combined with the focus on “finances.”
I usually come across the statement that campaigns, topics, and platforms need to be “controlled” without this verb being used in the appropriate context.
Controlling is also an antiquated term, and controlling is seen in the context of finance-oriented handling, which cannot help with the current communication challenges. Alternatively, synonyms such as “performance evaluation,” “performance control,” “KPI,” and “performance measurement” are used or mentioned. Each of these terms comes with very different ideas and opinions.
What interests me as a (communications) controller is that almost all of these terms have no real connection to controlling or, at best, describing part of it. But one thing is clear: communication controlling has a negative connotation among communicators, and the introduction of communication controlling is seen as a threat. Communication controlling can help ensure that the successful contribution of the communication functions to value creation becomes transparent!
Table of Contents
What Is Controlling And, Based On It, Communication Controlling?
It is the inherent function of controllers to ensure efficiency and effectiveness in corporate processes. Through constant exchange with managers, controllers are their business partners and internal consultants. Controllers should, therefore, understand the company’s business model, know its processes, and think entrepreneurially/strategically.
Managers only sometimes act in the company’s interests and occasionally make wrong decisions. People are cognitively limited, which means they can misperceive facts or use inappropriate heuristics. If managers make mistakes and pursue different goals for these reasons, the company or its stakeholders (e.g., owners, employees, the state, social security systems, etc.) suffer a loss in results. Controllers are supposed to avoid this damage. Therefore, ensuring rationality is the core of controller activity. This includes creating information transparency, analyzing outcomes, and being a critical partner to management.
The International Controller Association (ICV) thinks that managers are responsible for the development, implementation, and impact of measures in their area of responsibility, as well as the support and performance of the corporate strategy.
As a result, communication managers are responsible for developing, implementing, and impacting communication measures and supporting the corporate strategy through appropriate communication measures.
The task of controllers is then to provide communication managers with information prepared from data so that the results of the communication measures become transparent. When controllers and managers dialogue about the results, what is known as controlling is created.
Communication managers are responsible for translating the strategy into operational planning with measurable goals and finding suitable implementation measures. They are supported by “their” communication controllers.
This is done by communication controllers using appropriate methods and tools with which the effect can be measured and compared with the set goals. However, if the information is not used, proper measures will not be initiated, reviewed, or learned from the results. Communicators often experience that the information provided in the reports needs to be used.
In addition, controllers can create transparency in the resources (costs, time, person-days) necessary for planning and implementing the measures. With this transparency, those responsible for communications can answer the following questions:
- How can actions, campaigns, touchpoints/channels be aligned with the goals?
- Which target variables express that the plan has been achieved?
- Who are the relevant stakeholders, and how can they be persuaded to cooperate?
- What does corporate communications contribute to success?
Such questions require transparency in the resources available, the resource commitment of the planned measures, daily business, how goals can be achieved, and much more.
The Micro Perspective of Communication
When discussing communication control, what should be “controlled” is often not entirely clear. It’s about controlling transmission at different levels (micro level) and corporate communication as part of the organization’s process and business model (macro level). It should be remembered that in the communications area, company goals are translated into contributions and objectives of the communications area.
Content, such as corporate strategy, is communicated to stakeholders at the measure level. Therefore, the measure level must be integrated into the target system because this is where the most significant leverage is to influence the attitudes and opinions of stakeholders.
Corporate communication goals are derived from the corporate strategy and linked to measures. The plans are quantified using key figures, and target values are set.
The measures aligned with the strategy are implemented. One goal in implementation is to achieve the highest possible efficiency of the resources used and the high quality of the steps.
The success of the communication measures is measured using suitable methods and procedures.
Target and actual values are compared, and success is determined. If target values have not been achieved, the causes are analyzed and discussed. In the spirit of a continuous improvement process, measures are adjusted, processes are optimized, or the approach to goal setting and planning is optimized.