Positions on communication controlling

Communication controlling is more than evaluation. What communication contributes to corporate value cannot be measured in operative dimensions alone. The strategic dimension also needs to be addressed. Visionary thinkers in industry, consulting and universities have come to this insight in the intensive exchange of the past number of years, and have advanced the debate on communication controlling. The "Value Creation through Communication" task force of the German Public Relations Association (Deutsche Public Relations Gesellschaft e.V., DPRG) and the University of Leipzig initiated and supported the process and have developed a number of positions and standardized models.

From evaluation to communication controlling

The development of strategic communication controlling in Germany began with the work of the joint evaluation panel of the German Public Relations Association (Deutsche Public Relations Gesellschaft e.V., DPRG) and the Association of PR / Communications Consultancies (Gesellschaft Public Relations Agenturen, GPRA), which published a brochure called "PR-Evaluation: Messen, Analysieren, Bewerten – Empfehlungen für die Praxis" [PR Evaluation: Measuring, Analyzing, Evaluating – Recommendations for Practical Implementation; in German] in 2000. Starting in 2003, a group of researchers and PR practitioners based in Germany engaged intensively with the concepts of value based management, brand evaluation and, above all, the Kaplan / Norton Balanced Scorecard and Strategy Map (1997, 2004). Independently of each other at first, and then under the joint roof of the DPRG "Value Creation through Communication" task force, they developed and tested concepts for evaluating and controlling corporate communications on the basis of the Balanced Scorecard method.

Broad discussion among the specialist community kicked off in 2004 with a joint DPRG-GPRA conference in Frankfurt/Main, an opportunity for the approximately 300 participants from the communication, controlling and consulting communities to gain an impression of current thinking. Much has happened since. The debate has become mainstream, with communicators and controllers joining forces as regards the levels of impact of communication, and increasing attention is being devoted to the establishment of communication performance indicators for measuring and controlling communication.

Latest developments

Major steps toward professionalizing and systematizing communication controlling are reflected in the following initiatives:

- Value links (value drivers) and key performance indicators (KPIs): from 2005 to 2007, members of the DPRG "Value Creation through Communication" task force devised specific value drivers and performance indicators for the main areas of corporate communications on the basis of the Kaplan/Norton Strategy Map and Balanced Scorecard (cf. here and Pfannenberg 2009). These research papers are testimony to a definite convergence of positions and methods in Germany and a precursor to achieving standardization of methods.

- DPRG/ICV framework for communication controlling: The German Public Relations Association (DPRG) and the International Controlling Association (ICV) agreed in 2009 upon a joint "DPRG/ICV framework for communication controlling" which provides a systematic depiction of and standard terms for the impact levels of communication and input, and indicates appropriate evaluation methods (cf. here and Rolke/Zerfaß 2010), hence paving the way for productive collaboration between controllers and communicators in industry.

Literature (in German)

DPRG Deutsche Public Relations Gesellschaft/GPRA Gesellschaft Public Relations Agenturen (2000): PR-Evaluation. Messen, Analysieren, Bewerten – Empfehlungen für die Praxis. Booklet des Evaluationsausschusses von DPRG und GPRA. Bonn.

Kaplan, Robert S./Norton, David P. (1997): Balanced Scorecard: Strategien erfolgreich umsetzen. Stuttgart: Schäffer-Poeschel.

Kaplan, Robert S./Norton, David P. (2004): Strategy Maps. Der Weg von immateriellen Werten zum materiellen Erfolg. Stuttgart: Schäffer-Poeschel.

Möller, Klaus/Piwinger, Manfred/Zerfaß, Ansgar (Hrsg.) (2009): Immaterielle Vermögenswerte. Bewertung, Berichterstattung und Kommunikation. Reihe: Handelsblatt-Bücher. Stuttgart: Schäffer-Poeschel. (PDF)

Pfannenberg, Jörg (2009): Die Balanced Scorecard im strategischen Kommunikations-Controlling. communicationcontrolling.de, Dossier Nr. 2. Berlin/Leipzig.

Pfannenberg, Jörg/Zerfaß, Ansgar (Hrsg.) (2010): Wertschöpfung durch Kommunikation. Kommunikations-Controlling in der Unternehmenspraxis. Frankfurt a. M.: Frankfurter Allgemeine Buch. (PDF)

Rolke, Lothar/Zerfaß, Ansgar (2010): Wirkungsdimensionen der Kommunikation: Ressourceneinsatz und Wertschöpfung im DPRG/ICV-Bezugsrahmen. In: Pfannenberg, Jörg/Zerfaß, Ansgar (Hrsg.), S. 50-60.

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