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Management tools for corporate communications –
Relevance, benefits and experiences
Results of an empirical study in communication departments w October 2018
2
Imprint
Publisher:
University of Leipzig
Institute for Communication and Media Studies
Chair of Strategic Communication
Burgstrasse 21, 04103 Leipzig, Germany
LAUTENBACH SASS
Management Consultancy for Communications
Schleusenstraße 15-17, 60327 Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Citation:
Zerfass, A., Volk, S. C., Lautenbach, C., & Jakubowitz, M. (2018). Management tools for corporate
communications: Relevance, benefits and experiences. Results of an empirical study in communication
departments. Leipzig, Frankfurt am Main: University of Leipzig / Lautenbach Sass.
© 2018 by the authors. All rights reserved. This report is available for download at http://bit.ly/tools-cc, http://www.communicationmanagement.de and
www.lautenbachsass.de. The German version of this report is available at http://bit.ly/tools-uk. Publishing and uploading this document elsewhere is
prohibited. The use of graphics and statements from this report is permitted if the source is quoted in full (see above) and the following reference is
made directly below each illustration. “Source: Zerfass, Volk, Lautenbach & Jakubowitz, 2018; http://bit.ly/tools-cc”.
Images: https://barnimages.com (p. 1), https://www.pexels.com (p. 22).
Management tools for corporate communications I Study report
3
Preface
Management tools for corporate communications I Study report
Today, strategic communication is a key success factor
for corporate management. However, in contrast to other
professions, communicators do not yet have a repertoire
of established procedures for carrying out their tasks.
This makes it difficult for different functions, colleagues
and service providers to work together. All too often the
wheel is reinvented again and again. Therefore, board
members, executives and internal business partners
might get the impression that communication can be
carried out ad hoc without a specific body of knowledge.
Management tools set a counterpoint. They provide
orientation and make everyday work easier by enabling
practitioners to perform frequently occurring tasks in a
uniform, routinized and comprehensible manner.
Such tools are widely used in business management and
management consulting. But what about corporate
communications? To what extent do communicators use
tools for analysing, planning, implementing and
evaluating communication activities?
We wanted to shed some light on these questions
and conducted the world's first study on the use of
management tools in strategic communication. To this
end, we interviewed chief communication officers and
communication managers with responsibility for strategy,
steering or controlling in leading German companies.
The results show that there is still room for improvement
in the use of management tools in corporate communi-
cations. In addition to classic, more operational PR tools,
more established management tools should be adapted.
A toolbox tailored to your own needs is essential for the
further development of the communications department –
and for being recognized as a trusted partner by top
management.
We would like to thank everyone who took part in the
survey. Many thanks also to the German Public Relations
Association (DPRG) for supporting the study.
Prof. Dr. Ansgar Zerfass Christoph Lautenbach
Sophia Charlotte Volk Melanie Jakubowitz
4
01 Introduction: Management tools in
business and communications 05 Tools in different management stages
02 Research design and methods 06 Factors influencing the use of
management tools
03 Relevance, knowledge and experiences 07 Conclusions and call to action
04 Familiarity, diffusion and satisfaction 08 Literature and additional information /
About the authors
Inhalt
Management tools for corporate communications I Study report
5
Introduction: Management tools
in business and communications
01
Management tools for corporate communications I Study report
6
Companies and their communication departments face
many challenges today, ranging from the digital
transformation and constant change to increasing
complexity. In order to cope with more and more tasks
with limited resources, clear orientation, agile structures
and goal-oriented processes are necessary.
Communication managers must set the right course.
Management tools as drivers of excellence
Management tools in the sense of standardized thinking
tools and procedures for the analysis, planning,
implementation and evaluation of recurring tasks are an
aspect of excellence (Tench et al., 2017) that has so far
hardly been discussed in corporate communications.
Tools are common in many areas of business
management. This applies not only to operational aspects
such as project plans or quality controls, but also to
strategic decisions and complex issues. Management
consultancies such as McKinsey, Bain and BCG have
always relied on management tools that are recognized
by board members and executives when analysing
markets, technologies and business processes. This
ensures efficiency and effectiveness, and also fosters
acceptance by internal business partners and other
stakeholders.
But what role do management tools play in
communications? What are the best known procedures,
what is frequently used, what about satisfaction with the
most important tools? This is unknown until now; there is
a worldwide lack of knowledge on this subject. This study
closes this gap. It provides a first insight into the practice
of German companies and shows possible courses of
action.
Tools in strategic management
In management research, training and consulting, there
has long been an intensive debate about the benefits and
limitations of strategy tools. Well-known examples are the
industry analysis (Five Forces) by Porter (1980) and the
Balanced Scorecard by Kaplan and Norton (1996).
These are frameworks that make complex contexts
understandable and create a basis for discussion by
mapping relevant elements, variables and influencing
factors for specific problems. This enables practitioners to
work on targeted solutions. Such frameworks are to be
distinguished from theories that explain terms and
connections, as well as from models that show
empirically measurable effects (Ostrom, 2009, p. 414).
The comparatively high popularity and acceptance of
management research is often attributed to the fact that
it has succeeded in developing such tools, communica-
ting them in a practical manner, spreading them widely at
universities and in executive training and implementing
them in practice through strategy consulting under a
uniform name (Jarzabkowski et al., 2010, 2013).
Introduction
Management tools for corporate communications I Study report
7
In the business discipline, textbooks and anthologies
describing the most popular tools (e.g. Burtonshaw-Gunn,
2008; Schawel & Billing, 2018) are as widespread as
studies on the use and acceptance of tools (Rigby, 2001;
Rigby & Bilodeau, 2018).
Empirical evidence shows that management tools are
widely used (Jarzabkowski & Kaplan, 2015). Everyone
who has ever dealt with strategy knows the best-known
concepts – this fosters trust and facilitates cooperation.
Backlog in corporate communications
The knowledge in the area of strategic communication
has not yet been distributed in a comparable manner.
Apart from the widely used SWOT analysis, there are
only a few tools in the literature that are repeatedly
mentioned and linked to concrete concepts (e.g. the
RepTrak for reputation measurement or the brand
steering wheel). Systematic descriptions of tools are
scarce. When they exist, they usually focus on sub-areas
such as press relations or social media (Reineke &
Pfeffer, 2000; Pfannenberg & Schmalstieg, 2015).
A toolbox for strategic communication management as
an overview of established concepts from management,
marketing and PR as well as newly developed
management frameworks was only recently developed in
a research project (Volk et al., 2017). A description of the
most important tools for communicators will be published
in the near future (Zerfass & Volk, 2019). So far, the
discussion has not even started internationally.
Practical experiences
Experiences of management consultants for communica-
tion show that the systematic documentation and training
of tools is scarce in communication departments.
Standards are just as rare as the adaption of scientifically
based concepts. Employees often use self-developed
templates and procedures, so that neither learning curves
are used nor acceptance by (internal) clients is created.
Only a few companies, such as Deutsche Telekom, GIZ
and Munich Airport, have documented and further
developed key processes – and they have had positive
experiences throughout.
Introduction
Management tools for corporate communications I Study report
Examples: Practice-oriented descriptions of management tools (Rigby, 2017);
industry analysis by Porter (2010, p. 4)
8
In contrast to management consultancies, only a few
communication agencies have a repertoire of proven
management tools that can be used in projects with
clients. Here, the experience is consistently positive as
well – those who apply established concepts will reach
their goals faster and better.
Communication management tools: a definition
Communication management tools can be defined as
methods, procedures, standard processes and frame-
works (thinking tools) for the analysis, planning, imple-
mentation and evaluation of communication activities
in organisations, and for steering those processes.
They are implemented according to a uniform scheme
and can be used in a wide variety of situations. This
terminology is based on the established understanding of
tools in strategic management.
This understanding of tools therefore does not include
technical platforms and software solutions such as
editorial systems, databases, chatbots, social intranets,
etc. These are also important, but do not primarily
concern management tasks.
In this context, corporate communications refers to all
managed communication processes (messaging and
listening) with which a contribution is made to the defi-
nition and fulfilment of tasks in profit-oriented business
entities, and which in particular serve to coordinate
actions and clarify interests within the organisation
(internal communications), on markets (market communi-
cations) and in the socio-political sphere (public relations)
(Zerfass, 2014). Communication management steers
these activities and should be aligned with overarching
corporate goals and act upon the maxims of strategic
communication (Zerfass et al., 2018).
Introduction
Management tools for corporate communications I Study report
Toolbox Strategic Communication Management (Volk et al., 2017, p. 38-39)
9
Research design and methods
02
Management tools for corporate communications I Study report
10
Objectives and starting point
The aim of this study is to gain an initial empirical insight
into the relevance and assessment of management tools
in the practice of corporate communications. The
research is explorative and descriptive, since there are
no findings on the subject beyond the descriptions of
individual cases to date. It is therefore not possible to
formulate and test hypotheses.
Research questions
The study asks for the understanding and knowledge,
fundamental assessments and the perceived added value
of management tools for communications on the
individual level of communication professionals (RQ1).
On the level of communication departments, general
patterns of practice as well as the use of and satisfaction
with key tools for analysis, planning, implementation and
evaluation are explored (RQ2). Finally, the study checked
whether the identified characteristics are influenced by
characteristics of the respective person, department or
organisation (RQ3).
Design and survey method
Based on an interdisciplinary literature analysis, an online
questionnaire with a total of 30 questions was created.
Five-pole Likert scales as well as single and multiple
selection questions were used. Some questions were
only asked depending on previous answers (filters).
The questionnaire was programmed with Questback's
EFS survey tool and made available for various devices
(computer, tablet, smartphone). Functionality and
comprehensibility were checked during a pre-test with
15 communicators and subsequently optimized.
Population and sample
For the study, an elite sample of communication mana-
gers in German companies with dedicated responsibility
for strategy, steering or controlling of corporate communi-
cations was surveyed. The basis was a address list of
383 chief communication officers (CCOs) and managers
responsible for strategy and controlling of communica-
tions in large German companies, which was compiled
by the researchers. Personal invitations werde sent via
e-mail. In addition, the German Public Relations Asso-
ciation (DPRG) announced the study. The survey was
online from April 25 to June 5, 2018. For this report, only
fully completed questionnaires by communication mana-
gers meeting the above criteria were evaluated. This
resulted in 125 respondents (32.6% of the original list).
Data analysis
The data were analysed with descriptive and analytical
statistical methods using IBM SPSS software.
Correlations are only shown in this report if they are
statistically significant.
Research design and methods
Management tools for corporate communications I Study report
11
Research design and methods
Management tools for corporate communications I Study report
Tools
Knowledge Assessment Added value
• General
understanding
• General knowledge
through academic
studies or further
education
• General knowledge
through professional
experience
• Knowledge of
selected tools for
analysis, planning,
implementation and
evaluation
• Importance for
communications
• Competences of
communicators
• Structured problem
recognition
• Routinized problem
solving
• Simplification of
complex problems
• Acceleration of
decision making
processes
• Efficient solution
finding
Use Application Satisfaction
• Systematic
documentation
• Competent appli-
cation by communi-
cation employees
• Increased intensity
of use
• Use of selected tools
for analysis, planning,
implementation and
evaluation
• Frequency of use
of the tools applied
• Degree of satisfaction
with the tools used
Online survey about the knowledge, use and assessment of management tools in
corporate communications
Person
Demographics Education Position
• Age
• Gender
• Academic degree
(level)
• Degree in business
or economics
• Management trainings
• Hierarchy level
• Responsibility for
strategy and steering
• Job experience in
communciations
• Job experience in
consulting
• Responsibility for
management tools
Organisation
Size Leadership Comms Dept.
• Total annual revenue
or total assets
• Degree of support for
the use of tools by top
management
• Headcount
• Previous assessment
by management
consultants
External factors
• Environmental uncertainty
• Complexity of communication tasks
12
n = 125 communication managers in charge of strategy, steering or control in Germany who have completed the entire questionnaire. Questions: What is your position? In your
position, do you have responsibility for strategy, steering or control of the communications department? How old are you? How many years of professional experience do you have
in the communications industry? Did you study business or economics? Did you attend management trainings? Did you work as a consultant in your previous professional life?
Sample characteristics
Management tools for corporate communications I Study report
Communication managers in German companies in charge of strategy, steering or control125
Overall heads of
communication (CCOs)41%
Department, area
or team leaders46%
Communication
specialists13%
Male68%
Age (years)Ø47
> 16 years of
job experience72%
Academic background
with management content36%
Further education in
management87%
Formerly working in
a consultancy38%
13
Management tools explored in the study
PlanningAnalysis
Evaluation Implementation
Management tools for corporate communications I Study report
Analysis tools
§ SWOT analysis
§ Benchmarking
§ Stakeholder map
§ Process analysis
§ Persona analysis
§ Budget analysis / Financial
Decomposition
§ Scenario technique & forecasting
§ Communication touchpoint
analysis
Evaluation tools
§ Big data and
social media analytics
§ Communication dashboard
§ Sentiment tracking
§ Communication reports
§ Media response analysis
§ Communication scorecards
§ Reputation analysis
§ Brand assessment
Planning tools
§ Topic planning
§ Budget planning
§ Reputation management
§ Outsourcing /
Make-or-buy decision
§ House of communication
targets
§ Positioning matrix
§ Brand steering wheel
§ Mission statement
Implementation tools
§ Editorial plan
§ Communication briefing
§ Communication checklist
§ Communication scrum
§ Portfolio of instruments
§ Topics pyramid
§ Target radar
§ Flow charts and swim lanes
14
Relevance, knowledge
and experiences
03
Management tools for corporate communications I Study report
15
Parameters for communication
A clear majority of the communication managers
surveyed observe that their organisation operates in an
increasingly turbulent environment (79.2%). The constant
change is even more evident at the level of communica-
tion tasks. 92.3 percent confirm that these are becoming
increasingly complex: this is not the case in only very few
companies (5.1%).
Importance of tools in practice
Communication management tools help to capture and
structure complex challenges. So it is not surprising that
the relevance of tools has increased recently. 72.1
percent of the communciation leaders stated that
communication management tools are used more
intensively in their company today than five years ago.
Irrespective of this, nine out of ten respondents (91.2%)
demand that tools should be part of the professional
knowledge and skills set of communicators. From a
practical point of view, it makes sense to deal with this
topic in any case.
Basic understanding and knowledge gaps
However, the empirical results reveal a clear uncertainty
when defining and discussing communication manage-
ment tools. The conceptual understanding of the
interviewees does not always coincide with the general
management discourse. A majority postulates that
methods (85.6% approval; e.g. stakeholder or media
analyses) or procedures and standardized processes
(e.g. for communication planning; 76.8%) can be
understood as tools. Only one in two (52.8%) knows that
the term also includes thinking tools (e.g. for situation
analyses). Instead, databases (e.g. for journalists),
software systems (for project management), platforms,
channels and apps (instagram, websites) or measures
(e.g. news letters) are often considered as tools. One
reason for this more operational understanding of the
term is probably the fact that only a quarter of the
respondents were confronted with management tools
during their academic studies or further education. For
practitioners, the topic has so far become more or less
randomly accessible – if at all – in everyday working life.
Practical experience and added value
Only four out of ten companies state that those working in
the communications department are able to use tools
competently (39.5%). The proportion of departments in
which tools are systematically documented is a bit higher
(41.9%). There is a lot to do – especially because the
added value of such frameworks and processes is clearly
recognised. From the respondents' point of view, the
structured recognition (79.0%) and routinised processing
(79.0%) of problems are particularly supported. More
than two-thirds also mention the efficiency of finding
solutions and the simplification of complexity as positive
effects of tool usage.
Relevance, knowledge and experiences
Management tools for corporate communications I Study report
16
Increasing complexity of communications leads to a growing
importance of tools; know-how in this area is indispensable
Management tools for corporate communications I Study report
n ≤ 125 communications managers in charge of strategy, steering or control in Germany in Germany. Questions: If you think about the topic in general, to what extent do you agree
with the following statements? When you think about your department, how do you agree with the following statements? | Agreement on a scale from 1 (disagree fully) to 5 (fully
agree). Percentages show answers with scale points 4 and 5 (agree/fully agree).
Our communication tasks are becoming increasingly complex92.3%
Tools will gain in importance due to growing and more complex tasks88.0%
Tools should be part of the knowledge and skills of communicators91.2%
Communication management tools are used more intensively today than five years ago72.1%
↪
17
Correct understanding
(going along with the business discourse)
52.8%
76.8%
85.6%
Thinking tools
Procedures and
standard processes
Methods
Mentions in %
Different understanding
31.2%
47.2%
61.6%
64.8%
Activities
Platforms, channels
and apps
Software systems
Databases
Mentions in %
Not all communication leaders have a clear picture of
communication management tools
n = 125 communication managers in charge of strategy, steering or control in Germany. Question: There are many different definitions and understandings of communication
management tools. What do you mean by that? In my understanding, tools for communication management ... | Percentages show agreement with individual statements.
Multiple answers possible.
Management tools for corporate communications I Study report
18
n = 125 communication managers in charge of strategy, steering or control in Germany. Questions: If you think about the topic in general, to what extent do you agree with the
following statements? Communication management tools ... When you think of your department, how far do you agree with the following statements? | Agreement on a scale from
1 (fully disagree) to 5 (fully agree). Percentages show answers with scale points 4 and 5 (agree/fully agree).
Communication management tools in practice
Knowledge, skills and documentation of management tools are
lagging behind
Management tools for corporate communications I Study report
39.5%
41.9%
63.2%
25.6%
The staff in our department can use tools
competently
In our department tools are systematically
documented
I learned about tools in detail during the course of
my professional practice
I learned about tools in detail in my studies or in
further education
Agreement in %
19
n ≤ 125 communication managers in charge of strategy, steering or control in Germany. Question: If you are thinking specifically about the use of communication management tools
in your daily work, to what extent do you agree with the following statements? I Agreement on a scale from 1 (fully disagree) to 5 (fully agree). Percentages show answers with
scale points 4 and 5 (agree/fully agree).
Added value of tools in the daily work of communication managers
79.0% 79.0%
69.4%
62.6%
68.5%
0%
10%
20%
30%
40%
50%
60%
70%
80%
90%
100%
Management tools help to identify, simplify and solve problems
Management tools for corporate communications I Study report
… enable a
routinized
processing of
problems
… help to simplify
complex problems … help to
accelerate
decision-making
processes
… enable
efficient solution
finding
... facilitate a
structured
recognition of
problems
Communication management tools
20
Familiarity, diffusion
and satisfaction
04
Management tools for corporate communications I Study report
21
The study reveals which tools have already been used in
the communication departments surveyed and – if this is
the case – the frequency of use and satisfaction. In the
case of the tools not used, it was also clarified whether
the respondents had any knowledge about them at all.
In total, 32 established tools in all stages of the
communication management process (analysis, planning,
implementation, evaluation) were examined (see p. 13).
Spectrum of management tools used
A first descriptive insight is that an average company has
already used 21 of the 32 tools presented. This means
that a broad repertoire of established thinking tools and
methods is available in practice, even if they are not
systematically documented or reflected upon.
Frequently used procedures
Tools for the operational planning and implementation of
communication enjoy the greatest awareness and
spread. These are often easy to use, but not
standardized in the industry. In German communication
departments, topic and budget planning as well as
editorial plans and communication checklists are
widespread (used by 88% to 94% of companies in the
sample). The top ten most widely used tools include only
two analysis tools: SWOT analysis (90.4%) and
benchmarking (84.8%). Of the evaluation tools, only one
method – media response analysis – is used in a very
large number of companies (92.8%).
Low profile tools
The ranking of the least known communication
management tools is led by the communication
touchpoint analysis. More than a quarter of the
communication leaders surveyed (28.0%) are unfamiliar
with this popular method known from marketing
communications. There are also knowledge gaps in
implementation tools such as the communication scrum,
flow diagrams, target radar, and the topics pyramid.
Most popular communication management tools
The 12 most important tools for communication
management were identified on the basis of satisfaction
with the practical application. It turns out that some
methods are among the favourites that are less frequently
used, e.g. reputation analysis, mission statements or
touchpoint analysis. It is evident that more complex tools
with a high strategic impact can achieve a lot. Overall,
however, the comparison of commitment and satisfaction
shows that traditional and simple tools have been at the
forefront of communication departments up to now.
Familiarity, diffusion and satisfaction
Management tools for corporate communications I Study report
22
n = 125 communication managers in charge of strategy, steering or control in German companies. Question: Which of the following analysis tools / planning tools / implementation
tools / evaluation tools have already been used in your department? Answer options: (1) "don't know this tool", (2) “has been used here", (3) “has never been used here", (4) "don't
know whether it has been used here“ | Figure shows the mean based on all 32 tools with positive answers for (2) “has been used here".
Communication departments use a variety of management tools
Management tools for corporate communications I Study report
Use of tools (average number)
21
… of 32 tools
(on average)
have already been
used by the
companies surveyed
Ø
“If the only tool
you have is a
hammer, (it is
tempting) to treat
everything as if it
were a nail.“
(Maslow, 1966, p. 15)
23
n = 125 communication managers in charge of strategy, steering or control in German companies. Question: Which of the following analysis tools / planning tools / implementation
tools / evaluation tools have already been used in your department? Answer options: (1) "don't know this tool", (2) “has been used here", (3) “has never been used here", (4) "don't
know whether it has been used here“ | Percentages show answers with (1) "don't know this tool".
"The Classics" – most widely used communication management tools
81.6%
81.6%
84.0%
84.8%
88.0%
90.4%
92.0%
92.8%
94.4%
94.4%
Planning/implementation tools are most frequently used;
but there are few established methods for evaluation
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
Editorial plan
Topic planning
Media response analysis
Budget planning
SWOT analysis
Communication checklist
Benchmarking
Communication briefing
Mission statement
Portfolio of instruments
Analysis tool
Planning tool
Implementation tool
Evaluation tool
Management tools for corporate communications I Study report
24
n = 125 communication managers in charge of strategy, steering or control in German companies. Question: Which of the following analysis tools / planning tools / implementation
tools / evaluation tools have already been used in your department? Answer options: (1) "don't know this tool", (2) “has been used here", (3) “has never been used here", (4) "don't
know whether it has been used here“ | Percentages show answers with (1) "don't know this tool".
"The Unknown" – least known communication management tools
11.2%
14.4%
16.0%
16.8%
17.6%
19.2%
19.2%
20.8%
26.4%
28.0%
Knowledge gap in analysis and implementation tools –
many thinking tools and procedures are not known
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
Communication touchpoint analysis
Communication scrum
Flowcharts and swim lanes
Target radar
Topics pyramid
House of communication targets
Persona analysis
Brand steering wheel
Scenario technique & forecasting
Budget analysis/Financial Decomposition
Management tools for corporate communications I Study report
Analysis tool
Planning tool
Implementation tool
Evaluation tool
25
n ≤ 118 communication managers in charge of strategy, steering or control in German companies. Questions: How satisfied are/were you with the practical application of the
analysis tools / planning tools / implementation tools / evaluation tools in your department? Which of the following tools have already been used in your department? The figure
shows the three tools with the highest satisfaction for each stage of management. Percentages in brackets show satisfaction (scale points 4 and 5, satisfied/very satisfied) and use
(“has been used here").
"The Popular" – communication management tools with the highest satisfaction
The top 12 tools for communication management
with the highest level of satisfaction
Management tools for corporate communications I Study report
Benchmarking
(64% / use: 85%)
SWOT analysis
(68% / use: 90%)
Communication
touchpoint analysis
(73% / use: 38%)
Reputation analysis
(75% / use: 71%)
Media response analysis
(71% / use: 93%)
Brand assessment
(71% / use: 60%)
Communication checklist
(81% / use: 88%)
Communication briefing
(83% / use: 84%)
Editorial plan
(78% / use: 94%)
Topic planning
(76% / use: 94%)
Mission statement
(77% / use: 82%)
House of communication
targets
(74% / use: 53%)
PlanningAnalysis
Evaluation Implementation
26
Comparison of use and satisfaction
Traditional and simple tools are ahead in use and satisfaction
Satisfaction
Use
100%
50%
75%
2.5 4.53.5 5.0
n = 125 communication managers in charge of strategy, steering or control in German companies. Questions: How satisfied are/were you with the practical application of the
analysis tools / planning tools / implementation tools / evaluation tools in your department? Which of the following tools have already been used in your department? Percentages
show answers for “has been used here" | Mean values of satisfaction on a scale from (1) "not satisfied at all" to (5) "very satisfied".
Management tools for corporate communications I Study report
Analysis tool
Planning tool
Implementation tool
Evaluation tool
Editorial plan
Stakeholder map
Persona analysis
Process analysis
Benchmarking
SWOT analysis
Communication
touchpoint analysis
Scenario techniques
Mission statement
House of
communication
targets
Budget planning
Topic planning
Outsourcing / Make-or-buy decision
Target radar
Flow charts &
swim lanes
Communication checklist
Communication scrum
Communication briefing
Scorecards
Dashboards
Media response
analysis
Brand
assessment
Reputation analysis
Budget analysis
Reputation management
Positioning matrix
Topics pyramid
Reports
Portfolio of instruments
Sentiment tracking
Brand steering wheel
Big data & social media analytics
27
Tools in different
management stages
05
Management tools for corporate communications I Study report
28
A comparison of satisfaction and commitment for all
management tools provides a closer look at practices in
various stages of the communication management
process. The data reveal whether the respective tools are
used in the communication departments surveyed. The
frequency of use (weekly, monthly, yearly, etc.) was also
recorded. But this is not evaluated here for comparative
purposes, since some tools such as editorial plans and
checklists can be applied more frequently than methods
linked to specific points in time, e.g. the development of a
mission statement or the evaluation of a brand.
Satisfaction with and use of analysis tools
The degree of satisfaction with established methods is
least pronounced in the analysis stage. Only one method
scores more than 70 percent among the respondents:
communication touchpoint analysis. However, many
respondents are not even aware of this tool (see above)
and it is only used in 37.6 percent of the companies. It is
remarkable that stakeholder maps are used in three out
of four communication departments, of which only 57.7
percent are satisfied with their practical application.
Planning tools
Among the tools for communication planning the house of
communication targets is a method that receives quite
positive feedback from the users (74.1% satisfaction), but
is comparatively rarely used (by 52.8% of the companies).
Two well-known tools, mission statement and topic
planning, lead the satisfaction ranking in this stage.
Implementation tools
Four favourites clearly stand out in the implementation
stage of communication management, both in terms of
use (over 80%) and satisfaction (over 75%): communi-
cation briefings, communication checklists, editorial plans
and portfolios of instruments. However, flow charts and
swim lanes, the method with the lowest values in both
dimensions of all tools in the study, can also be found in
this section.
Tools for communication evaluation
Among the evaluation tools, reputation analyses have the
highest satisfaction value (75.3%), followed by media
response analyses (71.2%), brand evaluations (70.9%)
and communication dashboards (70.8%). The picture is
different when it comes to usage: media response analy-
ses (92.8%) and communication reports (80.8%) are in
the lead. However, only 63.5 percent of the communica-
tion departments that use the latter tool are satisfied or
very satisfied. For big data and social media analytics,
the frequency of use and satisfaction are exactly the
same (68.8%) – this is not the case with any other tool.
Tools in different management stages
Management tools for corporate communications I Study report
29
n ≤ 113 communication managers in charge of strategy, steering or control in German companies. Questions: How satisfied are/were you with the practical application of the tools
in your department? Which of the following tools have already been used in your department before? Bars show satisfaction (scale points 4 and 5, satisfied/very satisfied).
Percentages show answers for “has been used here".
Satisfaction with and use of analysis tools
Analysis tools: High satisfaction with communication
touchpoint analysis – but few use it
Management tools for corporate communications I Study report
50.0%
53.3%
56.8%
57.7%
59.3%
64.1%
68.4%
73.0%
Process analysis
Persona analysis
Scenario technique and forecasting
Stakeholder map
Budget analysis / Financial
Decomposition
Benchmarking
SWOT analysis
Communication touchpoint analysis 37.6%
90.4%
84.8%
56.0%
74.4%
44.0%
59.2%
63.2%
Use in %Satisfaction in %
30
n ≤ 118 communication managers in charge of strategy, steering or control in German companies. Questions: How satisfied are/were you with the practical application of the tools
in your department? Which of the following tools have already been used in your department before? Bars show satisfaction (scale points 4 and 5, satisfied/very satisfied).
Percentages show answers for “has been used here".
Satisfaction with and use of planning tools
Planning tools: House of communication targets in the top
three with highest satisfaction, but only used by every second
Management tools for corporate communications I Study report
57.1%
64.1%
68.9%
70.7%
71.3%
74.1%
76.2%
77.1%
Outsourcing / Make-or-buy decision
Reputation management
Brand steering wheel
Positioning matrix
Budget planning
House of communication targets
Topic planning
Mission statement 81.6%
94.4%
52.8%
92.0%
61.6%
50.4%
62.4%
46.4%
Use in %Satisfaction in %
31
n ≤ 118 communication managers in charge of strategy, steering or control in German companies. Questions: How satisfied are/were you with the practical application of the tools
in your department? Which of the following tools have already been used in your department before? Bars show satisfaction (scale points 4 and 5, satisfied/very satisfied).
Percentages show answers for “has been used here".
Satisfaction with and use of implementation tools
Implementation tools: Communication briefings and checklists
are most popular – swim lanes little recognized
Management tools for corporate communications I Study report
42.4%
63.3%
64.3%
65.8%
75.8%
77.5%
81.1%
82.8%
Flow charts and swim lanes
Communication scrum
Topics pyramid
Target radar
Portfolio of instruments
Editorial plan
Communication checklist
Communication briefing 84.0%
88.0%
94.4%
81.6%
37.6%
40.0%
25.6%
35.2%
Use in %Satisfaction in %
32
n ≤ 116 communication managers in charge of strategy, steering or control in German companies. Questions: How satisfied are/were you with the practical application of the tools
in your department? Which of the following tools have already been used in your department before? Bars show satisfaction (scale points 4 and 5, satisfied/very satisfied).
Percentages show answers for “has been used here".
Satisfaction with and use of evaluation tools
Evaluation tools: Almost all companies use media response
analyses, but only 71 percent are satisfied
Management tools for corporate communications I Study report
55.6%
61.9%
63.5%
68.8%
70.8%
70.9%
71.2%
75.3%
Communication scorecards
Sentiment tracking
Communication reports
Big data & social media analytics
Communication dashboards
Brand assessment
Media response analysis
Reputation analysis 71.2%
92.8%
60.0%
68.8%
68.8%
80.8%
55.2%
43.2%
Use in %Satisfaction in %
33
Factors influencing the
use of management tools
06
Management tools for corporate communications I Study report
34
In order to explain the spread and acceptance of
management tools in corporate communications, it is
particularly interesting to identify independent variables
that influence the values researched. In the present
study, this is done with analytical statistical methods that
calculate cross-tabulations (chi-square or T-tests) and
show statistically significant correlations (at least at the
level of 0.05).
Assessment of added value
The number of tools used in a communication department
influences their assessment by communication leaders.
The contribution of tools to accelerating decision-making
processes (Pearson correlation: 0.220) and to efficient
solution finding (0.299) are seen more clearly if more
methods or procedures are used.
Influence of company and department size
Management tools help to ensure that recurring tasks are
processed systematically and according to a comparable
pattern. This facilitates cooperation within the communi-
cation department, with other company functions and with
service providers. In this respect, it can be assumed that
larger companies and larger communication departments
use more tools than smaller ones, as the need for coordi-
nation increases and the expected benefit is greater. This
is supported by the empirical data. Companies with
annual revenues of up to 1 billion Euros use an average
of 17 different methods, while companies with revenues
of between 1 and 20 billion Euros use 21 tools, and the
largest companies with revenues of over 20 billion Euros
use 23 methods. This number is also reported by com-
munication departments with more than 100 employees;
those with up to 10 employees use an average of 18
tools.
Management consultants leave their mark
Significantly more tools are also used if a communication
department has been analysed by external or internal
management consultancies (McKinsey & Co.) in the last
five years. These consultants themselves work heavily
with management tools; this could lead to learning effects
for communicators.
Experience and competence of communicators
The personal profile of those responsible for strategy,
steering and controlling communications in a company
is also relevant. Significantly more tools are used if
respondents have been working in the communications
industry for a longer time. If they regularly attend
management training courses, an average of 23 tools are
used for communication management in the department.
If no management skills are acquired, the number is
significantly lower (15 tools on average).
Factors influencing the use of management tools
Management tools for corporate communications I Study report
35
Number of tools used depends on company size and previous
assessment by consultants
Management tools for corporate communications I Study report
Number of tools used and total revenues
or assets
Number of tools used and former assessment
by consultants
n = 119 communication managers in charge of strategy, steering or control in German
companies. Questions: Which of the following tools have been used in your depart-
ment? How high are the total annual revenues or total assets of your company
worldwide? Figures show mean values.
n = 116 communication managers in charge of strategy, steering or control in German
companies. Questions: Which of the following tools have been used in your depart-
ment? Has your department been assessed by external or internal management
consultants in the last 5 years? Figures show mean values.
Ø23
Tools
Ø17
Tools
Small firms
(≤ 1 billion Euros total
annual revenues / ≤ 50
million Euros total assets)
Large enterprises
(> 20 billion Euros total
annual revenues / > 500
billion Euros total assets)
The higher the company's turnover and
the more employees in the communication
department, the more tools are used.
More tools are used if a communication
department has a track record of being
analysed by management consultants.
Ø23
Tools
Ø19
Tools
No assessment
of the communication
department by in-house
consultants or external
management consultants
in the last five years
At least one
assessment of the
communication department by
in-house consultants or external
management consultants in the
last five years
à à
36
Experience and further training of communication leaders
influences the use of tools
Management tools for corporate communications I Study report
Number of tools used and professional
experience of communication leaders
Number of tools used and attendance of
management trainings and further education
n = 125 communication managers in charge of strategy, steering or control in German
companies. Questions: Which of the following tools have been used in your
department? How many years of professional experience do you have in the
communications industry? Figures show mean values.
n = 125 communication managers in charge of strategy, steering or control in German
companies. Questions: Which of the following tools have been used in your
department? Have you attended management training/education courses? Figures
show mean values.
Ø22
Tools
Ø16
Tools
Less than 6 years
of professional
experience
More than 20 years
of professional
experience
Ø23
Tools
No management
trainings/
further education in
management attended yet
Regular attendance of
management trainings/
further education in
management
Ø15
Tools
Departments use more tools, if communicators
with management responsibility have more work
experience.
More tools are used when communication leaders
regularly attend management trainings or further
education in that area.
à à
37
Conclusions and call to action
07
Management tools for corporate communications I Study report
38
Key findings of the study
The empirical survey shows that there is a considerable
need to catch up in the use of tools in corporate commu-
nications. The importance of tools is clearly seen by the
interviewed chief communication officers and commu-
nicators in charge of strategy, steering and control. But
there are clear gaps regarding the competent use and
documentation in communication departments. German
companies mainly use methods for planning and imple-
menting communication, which are often traditional PR
tools. Procedures with roots in marketing communication
or strategic management are less well known.
Satisfaction is often higher with more complex and less
frequently used tools than with the more widespread,
mostly operational standard procedures. The use of tools
is influenced both by structural characteristics of the
respective organisation and by personal experiences and
competences of the communicators in charge.
Success factors and recommendations
Based on the present study and the literature, some
recommendations and success factors for the use of
tools in communication management can be formulated
(Zerfass & Volk, 2019):
1. There will never be "the one right method" – but a
better one can almost always be found (Kiechel, 2013).
This requires thorough research, weighting strengths and
weaknesses, exchanging experiences with other tool
users and taking into account the particularities of the
respective company. Beware of elusive fashion waves.
2. Quick and simple solutions are not always effective.
The lower the effort involved in selecting and implemen-
ting tools, the greater the risk of dissatisfaction. In view
of scarce time resources, it is better to select a few
management tools and then use them purposefully
(Rigby & Bilodeau, 2018).
3. Systematic documentation is mandatory. Only if tools
are documented in writing – whether in guidelines,
manuals, toolkits, handbooks or intranets – can the
knowledge be codified and passed on to new employees
or service providers without loss of information. The
written specification also ensures that all parties involved
use the tools correctly and prudently (Nohria et al., 2003).
The same applies to tools and procedures developed in-
house: these should also be standardised and
documented.
4. A toolbox signals rationality and promotes acceptance
as a business partner by top management and other
departments. The introduction of a toolbox as a collection
of documented procedures and methods (Volk et al.,
2017) is a prerequisite for the continuous development
and professionalisation of the communication depart-
ment. Active support of management should be ensured
(Jarzabkowski & Kaplan, 2015).
Conclusions and call to action
Management tools for corporate communications I Study report
39
5. The added value of tools is based on the right combi-
nation of different procedures. But these combinations do
not always have to be invented anew. For recurring
challenges, it makes sense to set up situation-specific
toolboxes for individual tasks or teams in addition to a
master toolbox: e.g. a toolbox for crisis management, a
toolbox for content management, a toolbox for change
communication.
6. The use of communication management tools has to
be learned. Thinking tools and methods are a means to
an end. Only those who know which concrete problems
need to be solved or goals need to be achieved can use
the right tools. This requires a clear assignment of tasks.
In addition, the use of tools must be practiced, e.g. with
the help of case studies and real-life examples from
within the company or in the context of further training
under professional guidance.
7. Tools must be adapted to existing processes and
systems in the company – not the other way around.
They provide generic templates and schemes. Therefore,
they do not have to be implemented rigidly or strictly
applied according to textbook descriptions. They should
provide food for thought and aid practice, but also allow
for creative ideas or unconventional approaches to
solutions (March, 2006).
8. Many potentials of tools are wasted without a regular
evaluation. Tools must be checked and updated again
and again, as factors influencing their appropriateness
and performance are constantly changing. It is also
necessary to reflect on which tools work poorly and
whether there have been situations in which tools have
led to wrong management decisions. Ideally, employee
satisfaction with the methods used should be measured
regularly (Rigby & Bilodeau, 2018).
9. Satisfaction with management tools often varies
between countries (Rigby & Bilodeau, 2018). This offers
opportunities for internationally operating communication
departments. For example, new tools can be tested in
pilot projects in one country and then implemented
globally.
10. Management training and education is a key to
success. A solid understanding of business fundamentals
and regular attendance of management training courses
is positively correlated with the use of management tools
in general (Nohria et al., 2003) and especially in commu-
nication management (see above, p. 36).
Conclusions and call to action
Management tools for corporate communications I Study report
40
References and additional
information / About the authors
08
Management tools for corporate communications I Study report
41
Burtonshaw-Gunn, A. A. (2008). The essential management toolbox:
Tools, models and notes for managers and consultants. London:
John Wiley & Sons.
Jarzabkowski, P., Giulietti, M., Oliveira, B., & Amoo, N. (2013).
“We don’t need no education” – or do we? Management education
and alumni adoption of strategy tools. Journal of Management
Inquiry, 22(1), 4-24.
Jarzabkowski, P., & Kaplan, S. (2015). Strategy tools-in-use:
A framework for understanding ‘Technologies of Rationality’ in
practice. Strategic Management Journal, 36(4), 537-558.
Jarzabkowski, P., Mohrman, S. A., & Scherer, A. G. (2010).
Organization studies as applied science: The generation and use of
academic knowledge about organizations. Introduction to the special
issue. Organization Studies, 31(9-10), 1189-1207.
Kaplan, R. S., & Norton, D. P. (1996). The balanced scorecard:
Translating strategy into action. Boston, MA: Harvard Business
School Press.
Kiechel, W. III (2013). The management century. Harvard Business
Review, 90(11), 62-75.
March J. G. (2006). Rationality, foolishness, and adaptive
intelligence. Strategic Management Journal, 27(3), 201-214.
Maslow, M. (1966). The psychology of science. New York, NY:
Harper & Row.
Nohria, N., Joyce, W. F., & Roberson, B. (2003). What really works.
Harvard Business Review, 81(7), 42-52.
Ostrom, E. (2009). Beyond markets and states: Polycentric
governance of complex economic systems. Nobel prize lecture on
December 8, 2009, Stockholm, Sweden. Retrieved from https://
assets.nobelprize.org/uploads/2018/06/ostrom_lecture.pdf
Pfannenberg, J., & Schmalstieg, D. (2015). Toolbox Social Media.
Stuttgart: Schäffer-Poeschel.
Porter, M. E. (1980). Competitive strategy: Techniques for analyzing
industries and competitors: with a new introduction. New York, NY:
Free Press.
Reineke, W., & Pfeffer, G. A. (2000). PR Check-up: Arbeitshandbuch
Öffentlichkeitsarbeit – Checklisten für die Praxis. Essen: Stamm.
Rigby, D. (2001). Management tools and techniques: A survey.
California Management Review, 43(2), 139-160.
Rigby, D. (2017). Management tools 2017. An executive guide.
Boston, MA: Bain & Company.
Rigby, D., & Bilodeau, B. (2018). Management tools & trends.
Boston, MA: Bain & Company.
Schawel, C., & Billing, F. (2018). Top 100 Management Tools
(6. Aufl.). Wiesbaden: Springer Gabler.
Tench, R., Verčič, D., Zerfass, A., Moreno, A., & Verhoeven, P.
(2017). Communication excellence – How to develop, manage and
lead exceptional communications. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
Volk, S. C., Berger, K., Zerfass, A., Bisswanger, L., Fetzer, M., &
Köhler, K. (2017). How to play the game. Strategic tools for managing
corporate communications and creating value for your organization
(Communication Insights, Issue 3). Leipzig: Academic Society for
Management & Communication.
Zerfaß, A. (2014). Unternehmensführung und Kommunikationsmana-
gement: Strategie, Management und Controlling. In A. Zerfaß & M.
Piwinger (Hrsg.), Handbuch Unternehmenskommunikation (2. Aufl.,
S. 21-79). Wiesbaden: Springer Gabler.
Zerfass, A., Verčič, D., Nothhaft, H., & Werder, K. P. (2018). Strategic
communication: Defining the field and its contribution to research and
practice. International Journal of Strategic Communication, 12(4),
487-505.
Zerfaß, A., & Volk, S. C. (2019). Toolbox Kommunikationsmanage-
ment. Denkwerkzeuge und Instrumente für die Steuerung der
Unternehmenskommunikation. Wiesbaden: Springer Gabler.
References
Management tools for corporate communications I Study report
42
More information
Book publication on the
44 most important tools
Online coaching for the practical
application of tools
Zerfaß, A., & Volk, S. C. (2019).
Toolbox Kommunikationsmanagement.
Denkwerkzeuge und Instrumente für die
Steuerung der Unternehmenskommuni-
kation. Wiesbaden: Springer Gabler
(German language).
Available early 2019 at
www.amazon.com
Management tools for corporate communications I Study report
Volk, S. C., Berger, K., Zerfass, A., Bisswanger, L.,
Fetzer, M., Köhler, K. (2017). How to play the game.
Strategic tools for managing corporate communica-
tions and creating value for your organization
(Communication Insights, Issue 3). Leipzig: Aca-
demic Society for Management & Communication.
Free download at
www.academic-society.net
Booklet illustrating three
newly developed tools
digable offers: Interactive sessions on concrete
challenges. Practical application of tools for
communication management. Tangible results after
only half a day (German language).
More information at
www.digable.de
43
Prof. Dr. Ansgar Zerfass
Professor and Chair of
Strategic Communication
zerfass@uni-leipzig.de
About the authors
University of Leipzig
Management tools for corporate communications I Study report
Sophia Charlotte Volk, M.A.
Research Associate &
Project Lead
sophia-charlotte.volk@
uni-leipzig.de
Christoph Lautenbach
Managing Partner
lautenbach@lautenbachsass.de
Melanie Jakubowitz, M.A.
Strategic Communication
Consultant
jakubowitz@lautenbachsass.de
Lautenbach Sass
44Management tools for corporate communications I Study report

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Management tools for corporate communications: Relevance, benefits and experiences. Results of an empirical study in communication departments.

  • 1. 1 Management tools for corporate communications – Relevance, benefits and experiences Results of an empirical study in communication departments w October 2018
  • 2. 2 Imprint Publisher: University of Leipzig Institute for Communication and Media Studies Chair of Strategic Communication Burgstrasse 21, 04103 Leipzig, Germany LAUTENBACH SASS Management Consultancy for Communications Schleusenstraße 15-17, 60327 Frankfurt am Main, Germany Citation: Zerfass, A., Volk, S. C., Lautenbach, C., & Jakubowitz, M. (2018). Management tools for corporate communications: Relevance, benefits and experiences. Results of an empirical study in communication departments. Leipzig, Frankfurt am Main: University of Leipzig / Lautenbach Sass. © 2018 by the authors. All rights reserved. This report is available for download at http://bit.ly/tools-cc, http://www.communicationmanagement.de and www.lautenbachsass.de. The German version of this report is available at http://bit.ly/tools-uk. Publishing and uploading this document elsewhere is prohibited. The use of graphics and statements from this report is permitted if the source is quoted in full (see above) and the following reference is made directly below each illustration. “Source: Zerfass, Volk, Lautenbach & Jakubowitz, 2018; http://bit.ly/tools-cc”. Images: https://barnimages.com (p. 1), https://www.pexels.com (p. 22). Management tools for corporate communications I Study report
  • 3. 3 Preface Management tools for corporate communications I Study report Today, strategic communication is a key success factor for corporate management. However, in contrast to other professions, communicators do not yet have a repertoire of established procedures for carrying out their tasks. This makes it difficult for different functions, colleagues and service providers to work together. All too often the wheel is reinvented again and again. Therefore, board members, executives and internal business partners might get the impression that communication can be carried out ad hoc without a specific body of knowledge. Management tools set a counterpoint. They provide orientation and make everyday work easier by enabling practitioners to perform frequently occurring tasks in a uniform, routinized and comprehensible manner. Such tools are widely used in business management and management consulting. But what about corporate communications? To what extent do communicators use tools for analysing, planning, implementing and evaluating communication activities? We wanted to shed some light on these questions and conducted the world's first study on the use of management tools in strategic communication. To this end, we interviewed chief communication officers and communication managers with responsibility for strategy, steering or controlling in leading German companies. The results show that there is still room for improvement in the use of management tools in corporate communi- cations. In addition to classic, more operational PR tools, more established management tools should be adapted. A toolbox tailored to your own needs is essential for the further development of the communications department – and for being recognized as a trusted partner by top management. We would like to thank everyone who took part in the survey. Many thanks also to the German Public Relations Association (DPRG) for supporting the study. Prof. Dr. Ansgar Zerfass Christoph Lautenbach Sophia Charlotte Volk Melanie Jakubowitz
  • 4. 4 01 Introduction: Management tools in business and communications 05 Tools in different management stages 02 Research design and methods 06 Factors influencing the use of management tools 03 Relevance, knowledge and experiences 07 Conclusions and call to action 04 Familiarity, diffusion and satisfaction 08 Literature and additional information / About the authors Inhalt Management tools for corporate communications I Study report
  • 5. 5 Introduction: Management tools in business and communications 01 Management tools for corporate communications I Study report
  • 6. 6 Companies and their communication departments face many challenges today, ranging from the digital transformation and constant change to increasing complexity. In order to cope with more and more tasks with limited resources, clear orientation, agile structures and goal-oriented processes are necessary. Communication managers must set the right course. Management tools as drivers of excellence Management tools in the sense of standardized thinking tools and procedures for the analysis, planning, implementation and evaluation of recurring tasks are an aspect of excellence (Tench et al., 2017) that has so far hardly been discussed in corporate communications. Tools are common in many areas of business management. This applies not only to operational aspects such as project plans or quality controls, but also to strategic decisions and complex issues. Management consultancies such as McKinsey, Bain and BCG have always relied on management tools that are recognized by board members and executives when analysing markets, technologies and business processes. This ensures efficiency and effectiveness, and also fosters acceptance by internal business partners and other stakeholders. But what role do management tools play in communications? What are the best known procedures, what is frequently used, what about satisfaction with the most important tools? This is unknown until now; there is a worldwide lack of knowledge on this subject. This study closes this gap. It provides a first insight into the practice of German companies and shows possible courses of action. Tools in strategic management In management research, training and consulting, there has long been an intensive debate about the benefits and limitations of strategy tools. Well-known examples are the industry analysis (Five Forces) by Porter (1980) and the Balanced Scorecard by Kaplan and Norton (1996). These are frameworks that make complex contexts understandable and create a basis for discussion by mapping relevant elements, variables and influencing factors for specific problems. This enables practitioners to work on targeted solutions. Such frameworks are to be distinguished from theories that explain terms and connections, as well as from models that show empirically measurable effects (Ostrom, 2009, p. 414). The comparatively high popularity and acceptance of management research is often attributed to the fact that it has succeeded in developing such tools, communica- ting them in a practical manner, spreading them widely at universities and in executive training and implementing them in practice through strategy consulting under a uniform name (Jarzabkowski et al., 2010, 2013). Introduction Management tools for corporate communications I Study report
  • 7. 7 In the business discipline, textbooks and anthologies describing the most popular tools (e.g. Burtonshaw-Gunn, 2008; Schawel & Billing, 2018) are as widespread as studies on the use and acceptance of tools (Rigby, 2001; Rigby & Bilodeau, 2018). Empirical evidence shows that management tools are widely used (Jarzabkowski & Kaplan, 2015). Everyone who has ever dealt with strategy knows the best-known concepts – this fosters trust and facilitates cooperation. Backlog in corporate communications The knowledge in the area of strategic communication has not yet been distributed in a comparable manner. Apart from the widely used SWOT analysis, there are only a few tools in the literature that are repeatedly mentioned and linked to concrete concepts (e.g. the RepTrak for reputation measurement or the brand steering wheel). Systematic descriptions of tools are scarce. When they exist, they usually focus on sub-areas such as press relations or social media (Reineke & Pfeffer, 2000; Pfannenberg & Schmalstieg, 2015). A toolbox for strategic communication management as an overview of established concepts from management, marketing and PR as well as newly developed management frameworks was only recently developed in a research project (Volk et al., 2017). A description of the most important tools for communicators will be published in the near future (Zerfass & Volk, 2019). So far, the discussion has not even started internationally. Practical experiences Experiences of management consultants for communica- tion show that the systematic documentation and training of tools is scarce in communication departments. Standards are just as rare as the adaption of scientifically based concepts. Employees often use self-developed templates and procedures, so that neither learning curves are used nor acceptance by (internal) clients is created. Only a few companies, such as Deutsche Telekom, GIZ and Munich Airport, have documented and further developed key processes – and they have had positive experiences throughout. Introduction Management tools for corporate communications I Study report Examples: Practice-oriented descriptions of management tools (Rigby, 2017); industry analysis by Porter (2010, p. 4)
  • 8. 8 In contrast to management consultancies, only a few communication agencies have a repertoire of proven management tools that can be used in projects with clients. Here, the experience is consistently positive as well – those who apply established concepts will reach their goals faster and better. Communication management tools: a definition Communication management tools can be defined as methods, procedures, standard processes and frame- works (thinking tools) for the analysis, planning, imple- mentation and evaluation of communication activities in organisations, and for steering those processes. They are implemented according to a uniform scheme and can be used in a wide variety of situations. This terminology is based on the established understanding of tools in strategic management. This understanding of tools therefore does not include technical platforms and software solutions such as editorial systems, databases, chatbots, social intranets, etc. These are also important, but do not primarily concern management tasks. In this context, corporate communications refers to all managed communication processes (messaging and listening) with which a contribution is made to the defi- nition and fulfilment of tasks in profit-oriented business entities, and which in particular serve to coordinate actions and clarify interests within the organisation (internal communications), on markets (market communi- cations) and in the socio-political sphere (public relations) (Zerfass, 2014). Communication management steers these activities and should be aligned with overarching corporate goals and act upon the maxims of strategic communication (Zerfass et al., 2018). Introduction Management tools for corporate communications I Study report Toolbox Strategic Communication Management (Volk et al., 2017, p. 38-39)
  • 9. 9 Research design and methods 02 Management tools for corporate communications I Study report
  • 10. 10 Objectives and starting point The aim of this study is to gain an initial empirical insight into the relevance and assessment of management tools in the practice of corporate communications. The research is explorative and descriptive, since there are no findings on the subject beyond the descriptions of individual cases to date. It is therefore not possible to formulate and test hypotheses. Research questions The study asks for the understanding and knowledge, fundamental assessments and the perceived added value of management tools for communications on the individual level of communication professionals (RQ1). On the level of communication departments, general patterns of practice as well as the use of and satisfaction with key tools for analysis, planning, implementation and evaluation are explored (RQ2). Finally, the study checked whether the identified characteristics are influenced by characteristics of the respective person, department or organisation (RQ3). Design and survey method Based on an interdisciplinary literature analysis, an online questionnaire with a total of 30 questions was created. Five-pole Likert scales as well as single and multiple selection questions were used. Some questions were only asked depending on previous answers (filters). The questionnaire was programmed with Questback's EFS survey tool and made available for various devices (computer, tablet, smartphone). Functionality and comprehensibility were checked during a pre-test with 15 communicators and subsequently optimized. Population and sample For the study, an elite sample of communication mana- gers in German companies with dedicated responsibility for strategy, steering or controlling of corporate communi- cations was surveyed. The basis was a address list of 383 chief communication officers (CCOs) and managers responsible for strategy and controlling of communica- tions in large German companies, which was compiled by the researchers. Personal invitations werde sent via e-mail. In addition, the German Public Relations Asso- ciation (DPRG) announced the study. The survey was online from April 25 to June 5, 2018. For this report, only fully completed questionnaires by communication mana- gers meeting the above criteria were evaluated. This resulted in 125 respondents (32.6% of the original list). Data analysis The data were analysed with descriptive and analytical statistical methods using IBM SPSS software. Correlations are only shown in this report if they are statistically significant. Research design and methods Management tools for corporate communications I Study report
  • 11. 11 Research design and methods Management tools for corporate communications I Study report Tools Knowledge Assessment Added value • General understanding • General knowledge through academic studies or further education • General knowledge through professional experience • Knowledge of selected tools for analysis, planning, implementation and evaluation • Importance for communications • Competences of communicators • Structured problem recognition • Routinized problem solving • Simplification of complex problems • Acceleration of decision making processes • Efficient solution finding Use Application Satisfaction • Systematic documentation • Competent appli- cation by communi- cation employees • Increased intensity of use • Use of selected tools for analysis, planning, implementation and evaluation • Frequency of use of the tools applied • Degree of satisfaction with the tools used Online survey about the knowledge, use and assessment of management tools in corporate communications Person Demographics Education Position • Age • Gender • Academic degree (level) • Degree in business or economics • Management trainings • Hierarchy level • Responsibility for strategy and steering • Job experience in communciations • Job experience in consulting • Responsibility for management tools Organisation Size Leadership Comms Dept. • Total annual revenue or total assets • Degree of support for the use of tools by top management • Headcount • Previous assessment by management consultants External factors • Environmental uncertainty • Complexity of communication tasks
  • 12. 12 n = 125 communication managers in charge of strategy, steering or control in Germany who have completed the entire questionnaire. Questions: What is your position? In your position, do you have responsibility for strategy, steering or control of the communications department? How old are you? How many years of professional experience do you have in the communications industry? Did you study business or economics? Did you attend management trainings? Did you work as a consultant in your previous professional life? Sample characteristics Management tools for corporate communications I Study report Communication managers in German companies in charge of strategy, steering or control125 Overall heads of communication (CCOs)41% Department, area or team leaders46% Communication specialists13% Male68% Age (years)Ø47 > 16 years of job experience72% Academic background with management content36% Further education in management87% Formerly working in a consultancy38%
  • 13. 13 Management tools explored in the study PlanningAnalysis Evaluation Implementation Management tools for corporate communications I Study report Analysis tools § SWOT analysis § Benchmarking § Stakeholder map § Process analysis § Persona analysis § Budget analysis / Financial Decomposition § Scenario technique & forecasting § Communication touchpoint analysis Evaluation tools § Big data and social media analytics § Communication dashboard § Sentiment tracking § Communication reports § Media response analysis § Communication scorecards § Reputation analysis § Brand assessment Planning tools § Topic planning § Budget planning § Reputation management § Outsourcing / Make-or-buy decision § House of communication targets § Positioning matrix § Brand steering wheel § Mission statement Implementation tools § Editorial plan § Communication briefing § Communication checklist § Communication scrum § Portfolio of instruments § Topics pyramid § Target radar § Flow charts and swim lanes
  • 14. 14 Relevance, knowledge and experiences 03 Management tools for corporate communications I Study report
  • 15. 15 Parameters for communication A clear majority of the communication managers surveyed observe that their organisation operates in an increasingly turbulent environment (79.2%). The constant change is even more evident at the level of communica- tion tasks. 92.3 percent confirm that these are becoming increasingly complex: this is not the case in only very few companies (5.1%). Importance of tools in practice Communication management tools help to capture and structure complex challenges. So it is not surprising that the relevance of tools has increased recently. 72.1 percent of the communciation leaders stated that communication management tools are used more intensively in their company today than five years ago. Irrespective of this, nine out of ten respondents (91.2%) demand that tools should be part of the professional knowledge and skills set of communicators. From a practical point of view, it makes sense to deal with this topic in any case. Basic understanding and knowledge gaps However, the empirical results reveal a clear uncertainty when defining and discussing communication manage- ment tools. The conceptual understanding of the interviewees does not always coincide with the general management discourse. A majority postulates that methods (85.6% approval; e.g. stakeholder or media analyses) or procedures and standardized processes (e.g. for communication planning; 76.8%) can be understood as tools. Only one in two (52.8%) knows that the term also includes thinking tools (e.g. for situation analyses). Instead, databases (e.g. for journalists), software systems (for project management), platforms, channels and apps (instagram, websites) or measures (e.g. news letters) are often considered as tools. One reason for this more operational understanding of the term is probably the fact that only a quarter of the respondents were confronted with management tools during their academic studies or further education. For practitioners, the topic has so far become more or less randomly accessible – if at all – in everyday working life. Practical experience and added value Only four out of ten companies state that those working in the communications department are able to use tools competently (39.5%). The proportion of departments in which tools are systematically documented is a bit higher (41.9%). There is a lot to do – especially because the added value of such frameworks and processes is clearly recognised. From the respondents' point of view, the structured recognition (79.0%) and routinised processing (79.0%) of problems are particularly supported. More than two-thirds also mention the efficiency of finding solutions and the simplification of complexity as positive effects of tool usage. Relevance, knowledge and experiences Management tools for corporate communications I Study report
  • 16. 16 Increasing complexity of communications leads to a growing importance of tools; know-how in this area is indispensable Management tools for corporate communications I Study report n ≤ 125 communications managers in charge of strategy, steering or control in Germany in Germany. Questions: If you think about the topic in general, to what extent do you agree with the following statements? When you think about your department, how do you agree with the following statements? | Agreement on a scale from 1 (disagree fully) to 5 (fully agree). Percentages show answers with scale points 4 and 5 (agree/fully agree). Our communication tasks are becoming increasingly complex92.3% Tools will gain in importance due to growing and more complex tasks88.0% Tools should be part of the knowledge and skills of communicators91.2% Communication management tools are used more intensively today than five years ago72.1% ↪
  • 17. 17 Correct understanding (going along with the business discourse) 52.8% 76.8% 85.6% Thinking tools Procedures and standard processes Methods Mentions in % Different understanding 31.2% 47.2% 61.6% 64.8% Activities Platforms, channels and apps Software systems Databases Mentions in % Not all communication leaders have a clear picture of communication management tools n = 125 communication managers in charge of strategy, steering or control in Germany. Question: There are many different definitions and understandings of communication management tools. What do you mean by that? In my understanding, tools for communication management ... | Percentages show agreement with individual statements. Multiple answers possible. Management tools for corporate communications I Study report
  • 18. 18 n = 125 communication managers in charge of strategy, steering or control in Germany. Questions: If you think about the topic in general, to what extent do you agree with the following statements? Communication management tools ... When you think of your department, how far do you agree with the following statements? | Agreement on a scale from 1 (fully disagree) to 5 (fully agree). Percentages show answers with scale points 4 and 5 (agree/fully agree). Communication management tools in practice Knowledge, skills and documentation of management tools are lagging behind Management tools for corporate communications I Study report 39.5% 41.9% 63.2% 25.6% The staff in our department can use tools competently In our department tools are systematically documented I learned about tools in detail during the course of my professional practice I learned about tools in detail in my studies or in further education Agreement in %
  • 19. 19 n ≤ 125 communication managers in charge of strategy, steering or control in Germany. Question: If you are thinking specifically about the use of communication management tools in your daily work, to what extent do you agree with the following statements? I Agreement on a scale from 1 (fully disagree) to 5 (fully agree). Percentages show answers with scale points 4 and 5 (agree/fully agree). Added value of tools in the daily work of communication managers 79.0% 79.0% 69.4% 62.6% 68.5% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% Management tools help to identify, simplify and solve problems Management tools for corporate communications I Study report … enable a routinized processing of problems … help to simplify complex problems … help to accelerate decision-making processes … enable efficient solution finding ... facilitate a structured recognition of problems Communication management tools
  • 20. 20 Familiarity, diffusion and satisfaction 04 Management tools for corporate communications I Study report
  • 21. 21 The study reveals which tools have already been used in the communication departments surveyed and – if this is the case – the frequency of use and satisfaction. In the case of the tools not used, it was also clarified whether the respondents had any knowledge about them at all. In total, 32 established tools in all stages of the communication management process (analysis, planning, implementation, evaluation) were examined (see p. 13). Spectrum of management tools used A first descriptive insight is that an average company has already used 21 of the 32 tools presented. This means that a broad repertoire of established thinking tools and methods is available in practice, even if they are not systematically documented or reflected upon. Frequently used procedures Tools for the operational planning and implementation of communication enjoy the greatest awareness and spread. These are often easy to use, but not standardized in the industry. In German communication departments, topic and budget planning as well as editorial plans and communication checklists are widespread (used by 88% to 94% of companies in the sample). The top ten most widely used tools include only two analysis tools: SWOT analysis (90.4%) and benchmarking (84.8%). Of the evaluation tools, only one method – media response analysis – is used in a very large number of companies (92.8%). Low profile tools The ranking of the least known communication management tools is led by the communication touchpoint analysis. More than a quarter of the communication leaders surveyed (28.0%) are unfamiliar with this popular method known from marketing communications. There are also knowledge gaps in implementation tools such as the communication scrum, flow diagrams, target radar, and the topics pyramid. Most popular communication management tools The 12 most important tools for communication management were identified on the basis of satisfaction with the practical application. It turns out that some methods are among the favourites that are less frequently used, e.g. reputation analysis, mission statements or touchpoint analysis. It is evident that more complex tools with a high strategic impact can achieve a lot. Overall, however, the comparison of commitment and satisfaction shows that traditional and simple tools have been at the forefront of communication departments up to now. Familiarity, diffusion and satisfaction Management tools for corporate communications I Study report
  • 22. 22 n = 125 communication managers in charge of strategy, steering or control in German companies. Question: Which of the following analysis tools / planning tools / implementation tools / evaluation tools have already been used in your department? Answer options: (1) "don't know this tool", (2) “has been used here", (3) “has never been used here", (4) "don't know whether it has been used here“ | Figure shows the mean based on all 32 tools with positive answers for (2) “has been used here". Communication departments use a variety of management tools Management tools for corporate communications I Study report Use of tools (average number) 21 … of 32 tools (on average) have already been used by the companies surveyed Ø “If the only tool you have is a hammer, (it is tempting) to treat everything as if it were a nail.“ (Maslow, 1966, p. 15)
  • 23. 23 n = 125 communication managers in charge of strategy, steering or control in German companies. Question: Which of the following analysis tools / planning tools / implementation tools / evaluation tools have already been used in your department? Answer options: (1) "don't know this tool", (2) “has been used here", (3) “has never been used here", (4) "don't know whether it has been used here“ | Percentages show answers with (1) "don't know this tool". "The Classics" – most widely used communication management tools 81.6% 81.6% 84.0% 84.8% 88.0% 90.4% 92.0% 92.8% 94.4% 94.4% Planning/implementation tools are most frequently used; but there are few established methods for evaluation 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Editorial plan Topic planning Media response analysis Budget planning SWOT analysis Communication checklist Benchmarking Communication briefing Mission statement Portfolio of instruments Analysis tool Planning tool Implementation tool Evaluation tool Management tools for corporate communications I Study report
  • 24. 24 n = 125 communication managers in charge of strategy, steering or control in German companies. Question: Which of the following analysis tools / planning tools / implementation tools / evaluation tools have already been used in your department? Answer options: (1) "don't know this tool", (2) “has been used here", (3) “has never been used here", (4) "don't know whether it has been used here“ | Percentages show answers with (1) "don't know this tool". "The Unknown" – least known communication management tools 11.2% 14.4% 16.0% 16.8% 17.6% 19.2% 19.2% 20.8% 26.4% 28.0% Knowledge gap in analysis and implementation tools – many thinking tools and procedures are not known 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Communication touchpoint analysis Communication scrum Flowcharts and swim lanes Target radar Topics pyramid House of communication targets Persona analysis Brand steering wheel Scenario technique & forecasting Budget analysis/Financial Decomposition Management tools for corporate communications I Study report Analysis tool Planning tool Implementation tool Evaluation tool
  • 25. 25 n ≤ 118 communication managers in charge of strategy, steering or control in German companies. Questions: How satisfied are/were you with the practical application of the analysis tools / planning tools / implementation tools / evaluation tools in your department? Which of the following tools have already been used in your department? The figure shows the three tools with the highest satisfaction for each stage of management. Percentages in brackets show satisfaction (scale points 4 and 5, satisfied/very satisfied) and use (“has been used here"). "The Popular" – communication management tools with the highest satisfaction The top 12 tools for communication management with the highest level of satisfaction Management tools for corporate communications I Study report Benchmarking (64% / use: 85%) SWOT analysis (68% / use: 90%) Communication touchpoint analysis (73% / use: 38%) Reputation analysis (75% / use: 71%) Media response analysis (71% / use: 93%) Brand assessment (71% / use: 60%) Communication checklist (81% / use: 88%) Communication briefing (83% / use: 84%) Editorial plan (78% / use: 94%) Topic planning (76% / use: 94%) Mission statement (77% / use: 82%) House of communication targets (74% / use: 53%) PlanningAnalysis Evaluation Implementation
  • 26. 26 Comparison of use and satisfaction Traditional and simple tools are ahead in use and satisfaction Satisfaction Use 100% 50% 75% 2.5 4.53.5 5.0 n = 125 communication managers in charge of strategy, steering or control in German companies. Questions: How satisfied are/were you with the practical application of the analysis tools / planning tools / implementation tools / evaluation tools in your department? Which of the following tools have already been used in your department? Percentages show answers for “has been used here" | Mean values of satisfaction on a scale from (1) "not satisfied at all" to (5) "very satisfied". Management tools for corporate communications I Study report Analysis tool Planning tool Implementation tool Evaluation tool Editorial plan Stakeholder map Persona analysis Process analysis Benchmarking SWOT analysis Communication touchpoint analysis Scenario techniques Mission statement House of communication targets Budget planning Topic planning Outsourcing / Make-or-buy decision Target radar Flow charts & swim lanes Communication checklist Communication scrum Communication briefing Scorecards Dashboards Media response analysis Brand assessment Reputation analysis Budget analysis Reputation management Positioning matrix Topics pyramid Reports Portfolio of instruments Sentiment tracking Brand steering wheel Big data & social media analytics
  • 27. 27 Tools in different management stages 05 Management tools for corporate communications I Study report
  • 28. 28 A comparison of satisfaction and commitment for all management tools provides a closer look at practices in various stages of the communication management process. The data reveal whether the respective tools are used in the communication departments surveyed. The frequency of use (weekly, monthly, yearly, etc.) was also recorded. But this is not evaluated here for comparative purposes, since some tools such as editorial plans and checklists can be applied more frequently than methods linked to specific points in time, e.g. the development of a mission statement or the evaluation of a brand. Satisfaction with and use of analysis tools The degree of satisfaction with established methods is least pronounced in the analysis stage. Only one method scores more than 70 percent among the respondents: communication touchpoint analysis. However, many respondents are not even aware of this tool (see above) and it is only used in 37.6 percent of the companies. It is remarkable that stakeholder maps are used in three out of four communication departments, of which only 57.7 percent are satisfied with their practical application. Planning tools Among the tools for communication planning the house of communication targets is a method that receives quite positive feedback from the users (74.1% satisfaction), but is comparatively rarely used (by 52.8% of the companies). Two well-known tools, mission statement and topic planning, lead the satisfaction ranking in this stage. Implementation tools Four favourites clearly stand out in the implementation stage of communication management, both in terms of use (over 80%) and satisfaction (over 75%): communi- cation briefings, communication checklists, editorial plans and portfolios of instruments. However, flow charts and swim lanes, the method with the lowest values in both dimensions of all tools in the study, can also be found in this section. Tools for communication evaluation Among the evaluation tools, reputation analyses have the highest satisfaction value (75.3%), followed by media response analyses (71.2%), brand evaluations (70.9%) and communication dashboards (70.8%). The picture is different when it comes to usage: media response analy- ses (92.8%) and communication reports (80.8%) are in the lead. However, only 63.5 percent of the communica- tion departments that use the latter tool are satisfied or very satisfied. For big data and social media analytics, the frequency of use and satisfaction are exactly the same (68.8%) – this is not the case with any other tool. Tools in different management stages Management tools for corporate communications I Study report
  • 29. 29 n ≤ 113 communication managers in charge of strategy, steering or control in German companies. Questions: How satisfied are/were you with the practical application of the tools in your department? Which of the following tools have already been used in your department before? Bars show satisfaction (scale points 4 and 5, satisfied/very satisfied). Percentages show answers for “has been used here". Satisfaction with and use of analysis tools Analysis tools: High satisfaction with communication touchpoint analysis – but few use it Management tools for corporate communications I Study report 50.0% 53.3% 56.8% 57.7% 59.3% 64.1% 68.4% 73.0% Process analysis Persona analysis Scenario technique and forecasting Stakeholder map Budget analysis / Financial Decomposition Benchmarking SWOT analysis Communication touchpoint analysis 37.6% 90.4% 84.8% 56.0% 74.4% 44.0% 59.2% 63.2% Use in %Satisfaction in %
  • 30. 30 n ≤ 118 communication managers in charge of strategy, steering or control in German companies. Questions: How satisfied are/were you with the practical application of the tools in your department? Which of the following tools have already been used in your department before? Bars show satisfaction (scale points 4 and 5, satisfied/very satisfied). Percentages show answers for “has been used here". Satisfaction with and use of planning tools Planning tools: House of communication targets in the top three with highest satisfaction, but only used by every second Management tools for corporate communications I Study report 57.1% 64.1% 68.9% 70.7% 71.3% 74.1% 76.2% 77.1% Outsourcing / Make-or-buy decision Reputation management Brand steering wheel Positioning matrix Budget planning House of communication targets Topic planning Mission statement 81.6% 94.4% 52.8% 92.0% 61.6% 50.4% 62.4% 46.4% Use in %Satisfaction in %
  • 31. 31 n ≤ 118 communication managers in charge of strategy, steering or control in German companies. Questions: How satisfied are/were you with the practical application of the tools in your department? Which of the following tools have already been used in your department before? Bars show satisfaction (scale points 4 and 5, satisfied/very satisfied). Percentages show answers for “has been used here". Satisfaction with and use of implementation tools Implementation tools: Communication briefings and checklists are most popular – swim lanes little recognized Management tools for corporate communications I Study report 42.4% 63.3% 64.3% 65.8% 75.8% 77.5% 81.1% 82.8% Flow charts and swim lanes Communication scrum Topics pyramid Target radar Portfolio of instruments Editorial plan Communication checklist Communication briefing 84.0% 88.0% 94.4% 81.6% 37.6% 40.0% 25.6% 35.2% Use in %Satisfaction in %
  • 32. 32 n ≤ 116 communication managers in charge of strategy, steering or control in German companies. Questions: How satisfied are/were you with the practical application of the tools in your department? Which of the following tools have already been used in your department before? Bars show satisfaction (scale points 4 and 5, satisfied/very satisfied). Percentages show answers for “has been used here". Satisfaction with and use of evaluation tools Evaluation tools: Almost all companies use media response analyses, but only 71 percent are satisfied Management tools for corporate communications I Study report 55.6% 61.9% 63.5% 68.8% 70.8% 70.9% 71.2% 75.3% Communication scorecards Sentiment tracking Communication reports Big data & social media analytics Communication dashboards Brand assessment Media response analysis Reputation analysis 71.2% 92.8% 60.0% 68.8% 68.8% 80.8% 55.2% 43.2% Use in %Satisfaction in %
  • 33. 33 Factors influencing the use of management tools 06 Management tools for corporate communications I Study report
  • 34. 34 In order to explain the spread and acceptance of management tools in corporate communications, it is particularly interesting to identify independent variables that influence the values researched. In the present study, this is done with analytical statistical methods that calculate cross-tabulations (chi-square or T-tests) and show statistically significant correlations (at least at the level of 0.05). Assessment of added value The number of tools used in a communication department influences their assessment by communication leaders. The contribution of tools to accelerating decision-making processes (Pearson correlation: 0.220) and to efficient solution finding (0.299) are seen more clearly if more methods or procedures are used. Influence of company and department size Management tools help to ensure that recurring tasks are processed systematically and according to a comparable pattern. This facilitates cooperation within the communi- cation department, with other company functions and with service providers. In this respect, it can be assumed that larger companies and larger communication departments use more tools than smaller ones, as the need for coordi- nation increases and the expected benefit is greater. This is supported by the empirical data. Companies with annual revenues of up to 1 billion Euros use an average of 17 different methods, while companies with revenues of between 1 and 20 billion Euros use 21 tools, and the largest companies with revenues of over 20 billion Euros use 23 methods. This number is also reported by com- munication departments with more than 100 employees; those with up to 10 employees use an average of 18 tools. Management consultants leave their mark Significantly more tools are also used if a communication department has been analysed by external or internal management consultancies (McKinsey & Co.) in the last five years. These consultants themselves work heavily with management tools; this could lead to learning effects for communicators. Experience and competence of communicators The personal profile of those responsible for strategy, steering and controlling communications in a company is also relevant. Significantly more tools are used if respondents have been working in the communications industry for a longer time. If they regularly attend management training courses, an average of 23 tools are used for communication management in the department. If no management skills are acquired, the number is significantly lower (15 tools on average). Factors influencing the use of management tools Management tools for corporate communications I Study report
  • 35. 35 Number of tools used depends on company size and previous assessment by consultants Management tools for corporate communications I Study report Number of tools used and total revenues or assets Number of tools used and former assessment by consultants n = 119 communication managers in charge of strategy, steering or control in German companies. Questions: Which of the following tools have been used in your depart- ment? How high are the total annual revenues or total assets of your company worldwide? Figures show mean values. n = 116 communication managers in charge of strategy, steering or control in German companies. Questions: Which of the following tools have been used in your depart- ment? Has your department been assessed by external or internal management consultants in the last 5 years? Figures show mean values. Ø23 Tools Ø17 Tools Small firms (≤ 1 billion Euros total annual revenues / ≤ 50 million Euros total assets) Large enterprises (> 20 billion Euros total annual revenues / > 500 billion Euros total assets) The higher the company's turnover and the more employees in the communication department, the more tools are used. More tools are used if a communication department has a track record of being analysed by management consultants. Ø23 Tools Ø19 Tools No assessment of the communication department by in-house consultants or external management consultants in the last five years At least one assessment of the communication department by in-house consultants or external management consultants in the last five years à à
  • 36. 36 Experience and further training of communication leaders influences the use of tools Management tools for corporate communications I Study report Number of tools used and professional experience of communication leaders Number of tools used and attendance of management trainings and further education n = 125 communication managers in charge of strategy, steering or control in German companies. Questions: Which of the following tools have been used in your department? How many years of professional experience do you have in the communications industry? Figures show mean values. n = 125 communication managers in charge of strategy, steering or control in German companies. Questions: Which of the following tools have been used in your department? Have you attended management training/education courses? Figures show mean values. Ø22 Tools Ø16 Tools Less than 6 years of professional experience More than 20 years of professional experience Ø23 Tools No management trainings/ further education in management attended yet Regular attendance of management trainings/ further education in management Ø15 Tools Departments use more tools, if communicators with management responsibility have more work experience. More tools are used when communication leaders regularly attend management trainings or further education in that area. à à
  • 37. 37 Conclusions and call to action 07 Management tools for corporate communications I Study report
  • 38. 38 Key findings of the study The empirical survey shows that there is a considerable need to catch up in the use of tools in corporate commu- nications. The importance of tools is clearly seen by the interviewed chief communication officers and commu- nicators in charge of strategy, steering and control. But there are clear gaps regarding the competent use and documentation in communication departments. German companies mainly use methods for planning and imple- menting communication, which are often traditional PR tools. Procedures with roots in marketing communication or strategic management are less well known. Satisfaction is often higher with more complex and less frequently used tools than with the more widespread, mostly operational standard procedures. The use of tools is influenced both by structural characteristics of the respective organisation and by personal experiences and competences of the communicators in charge. Success factors and recommendations Based on the present study and the literature, some recommendations and success factors for the use of tools in communication management can be formulated (Zerfass & Volk, 2019): 1. There will never be "the one right method" – but a better one can almost always be found (Kiechel, 2013). This requires thorough research, weighting strengths and weaknesses, exchanging experiences with other tool users and taking into account the particularities of the respective company. Beware of elusive fashion waves. 2. Quick and simple solutions are not always effective. The lower the effort involved in selecting and implemen- ting tools, the greater the risk of dissatisfaction. In view of scarce time resources, it is better to select a few management tools and then use them purposefully (Rigby & Bilodeau, 2018). 3. Systematic documentation is mandatory. Only if tools are documented in writing – whether in guidelines, manuals, toolkits, handbooks or intranets – can the knowledge be codified and passed on to new employees or service providers without loss of information. The written specification also ensures that all parties involved use the tools correctly and prudently (Nohria et al., 2003). The same applies to tools and procedures developed in- house: these should also be standardised and documented. 4. A toolbox signals rationality and promotes acceptance as a business partner by top management and other departments. The introduction of a toolbox as a collection of documented procedures and methods (Volk et al., 2017) is a prerequisite for the continuous development and professionalisation of the communication depart- ment. Active support of management should be ensured (Jarzabkowski & Kaplan, 2015). Conclusions and call to action Management tools for corporate communications I Study report
  • 39. 39 5. The added value of tools is based on the right combi- nation of different procedures. But these combinations do not always have to be invented anew. For recurring challenges, it makes sense to set up situation-specific toolboxes for individual tasks or teams in addition to a master toolbox: e.g. a toolbox for crisis management, a toolbox for content management, a toolbox for change communication. 6. The use of communication management tools has to be learned. Thinking tools and methods are a means to an end. Only those who know which concrete problems need to be solved or goals need to be achieved can use the right tools. This requires a clear assignment of tasks. In addition, the use of tools must be practiced, e.g. with the help of case studies and real-life examples from within the company or in the context of further training under professional guidance. 7. Tools must be adapted to existing processes and systems in the company – not the other way around. They provide generic templates and schemes. Therefore, they do not have to be implemented rigidly or strictly applied according to textbook descriptions. They should provide food for thought and aid practice, but also allow for creative ideas or unconventional approaches to solutions (March, 2006). 8. Many potentials of tools are wasted without a regular evaluation. Tools must be checked and updated again and again, as factors influencing their appropriateness and performance are constantly changing. It is also necessary to reflect on which tools work poorly and whether there have been situations in which tools have led to wrong management decisions. Ideally, employee satisfaction with the methods used should be measured regularly (Rigby & Bilodeau, 2018). 9. Satisfaction with management tools often varies between countries (Rigby & Bilodeau, 2018). This offers opportunities for internationally operating communication departments. For example, new tools can be tested in pilot projects in one country and then implemented globally. 10. Management training and education is a key to success. A solid understanding of business fundamentals and regular attendance of management training courses is positively correlated with the use of management tools in general (Nohria et al., 2003) and especially in commu- nication management (see above, p. 36). Conclusions and call to action Management tools for corporate communications I Study report
  • 40. 40 References and additional information / About the authors 08 Management tools for corporate communications I Study report
  • 41. 41 Burtonshaw-Gunn, A. A. (2008). The essential management toolbox: Tools, models and notes for managers and consultants. London: John Wiley & Sons. Jarzabkowski, P., Giulietti, M., Oliveira, B., & Amoo, N. (2013). “We don’t need no education” – or do we? Management education and alumni adoption of strategy tools. Journal of Management Inquiry, 22(1), 4-24. Jarzabkowski, P., & Kaplan, S. (2015). Strategy tools-in-use: A framework for understanding ‘Technologies of Rationality’ in practice. Strategic Management Journal, 36(4), 537-558. Jarzabkowski, P., Mohrman, S. A., & Scherer, A. G. (2010). Organization studies as applied science: The generation and use of academic knowledge about organizations. Introduction to the special issue. Organization Studies, 31(9-10), 1189-1207. Kaplan, R. S., & Norton, D. P. (1996). The balanced scorecard: Translating strategy into action. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press. Kiechel, W. III (2013). The management century. Harvard Business Review, 90(11), 62-75. March J. G. (2006). Rationality, foolishness, and adaptive intelligence. Strategic Management Journal, 27(3), 201-214. Maslow, M. (1966). The psychology of science. New York, NY: Harper & Row. Nohria, N., Joyce, W. F., & Roberson, B. (2003). What really works. Harvard Business Review, 81(7), 42-52. Ostrom, E. (2009). Beyond markets and states: Polycentric governance of complex economic systems. Nobel prize lecture on December 8, 2009, Stockholm, Sweden. Retrieved from https:// assets.nobelprize.org/uploads/2018/06/ostrom_lecture.pdf Pfannenberg, J., & Schmalstieg, D. (2015). Toolbox Social Media. Stuttgart: Schäffer-Poeschel. Porter, M. E. (1980). Competitive strategy: Techniques for analyzing industries and competitors: with a new introduction. New York, NY: Free Press. Reineke, W., & Pfeffer, G. A. (2000). PR Check-up: Arbeitshandbuch Öffentlichkeitsarbeit – Checklisten für die Praxis. Essen: Stamm. Rigby, D. (2001). Management tools and techniques: A survey. California Management Review, 43(2), 139-160. Rigby, D. (2017). Management tools 2017. An executive guide. Boston, MA: Bain & Company. Rigby, D., & Bilodeau, B. (2018). Management tools & trends. Boston, MA: Bain & Company. Schawel, C., & Billing, F. (2018). Top 100 Management Tools (6. Aufl.). Wiesbaden: Springer Gabler. Tench, R., Verčič, D., Zerfass, A., Moreno, A., & Verhoeven, P. (2017). Communication excellence – How to develop, manage and lead exceptional communications. London: Palgrave Macmillan. Volk, S. C., Berger, K., Zerfass, A., Bisswanger, L., Fetzer, M., & Köhler, K. (2017). How to play the game. Strategic tools for managing corporate communications and creating value for your organization (Communication Insights, Issue 3). Leipzig: Academic Society for Management & Communication. Zerfaß, A. (2014). Unternehmensführung und Kommunikationsmana- gement: Strategie, Management und Controlling. In A. Zerfaß & M. Piwinger (Hrsg.), Handbuch Unternehmenskommunikation (2. Aufl., S. 21-79). Wiesbaden: Springer Gabler. Zerfass, A., Verčič, D., Nothhaft, H., & Werder, K. P. (2018). Strategic communication: Defining the field and its contribution to research and practice. International Journal of Strategic Communication, 12(4), 487-505. Zerfaß, A., & Volk, S. C. (2019). Toolbox Kommunikationsmanage- ment. Denkwerkzeuge und Instrumente für die Steuerung der Unternehmenskommunikation. Wiesbaden: Springer Gabler. References Management tools for corporate communications I Study report
  • 42. 42 More information Book publication on the 44 most important tools Online coaching for the practical application of tools Zerfaß, A., & Volk, S. C. (2019). Toolbox Kommunikationsmanagement. Denkwerkzeuge und Instrumente für die Steuerung der Unternehmenskommuni- kation. Wiesbaden: Springer Gabler (German language). Available early 2019 at www.amazon.com Management tools for corporate communications I Study report Volk, S. C., Berger, K., Zerfass, A., Bisswanger, L., Fetzer, M., Köhler, K. (2017). How to play the game. Strategic tools for managing corporate communica- tions and creating value for your organization (Communication Insights, Issue 3). Leipzig: Aca- demic Society for Management & Communication. Free download at www.academic-society.net Booklet illustrating three newly developed tools digable offers: Interactive sessions on concrete challenges. Practical application of tools for communication management. Tangible results after only half a day (German language). More information at www.digable.de
  • 43. 43 Prof. Dr. Ansgar Zerfass Professor and Chair of Strategic Communication zerfass@uni-leipzig.de About the authors University of Leipzig Management tools for corporate communications I Study report Sophia Charlotte Volk, M.A. Research Associate & Project Lead sophia-charlotte.volk@ uni-leipzig.de Christoph Lautenbach Managing Partner lautenbach@lautenbachsass.de Melanie Jakubowitz, M.A. Strategic Communication Consultant jakubowitz@lautenbachsass.de Lautenbach Sass
  • 44. 44Management tools for corporate communications I Study report