Angela Sinickas, ABC is a trusted specialist and 21-times Gold Quill Award winner, known worldwide for her thought leadership, speaking engagements, and publications in the measurement and effectiveness of internal communications. Through her consultancy, Sinickas Communications, Angela creates measurably effective communications programs for her clients.
We tracked her down at IABC World Conference 2018 and found out how she is helping communicators measure and link communications to behavioral change in organizations.



Video Transcript

Chuck Gose: So we're here with our next Chuck Chats Live guest who probably needs no introduction here at IABC World Conference. We're here with Angela Sinickas.

Welcome to Chuck Chats.

Angela Sinickas: Thank you. Thank you, Chuck.

Chuck: Usually we talk about measurement and data, but we're going to talk about something else. During the opening session here, they asked who had attended World Conference when it was last here in Montreal and you stood up.

Angela: I did.

Chuck: And that was in 1984. What was it like then compared to now?

Angela: Wow, actually pretty similar because of the big group of people. I just didn't know as many people then. I was still meeting them and I still remember some people I met at that very conference. One of them is in here right now.

The problem with Montreal definitely was we had different things happening in two different hotels so we had to keep going back and forth, back and forth, so it's really nice to have them all in one place this time.

Chuck: Obviously, you've been coming here and been a part of IABC community for a long time.

What keeps bringing you back. Thirty-plus years, why do you keep coming back to World Conference?

Obviously, you've given a lot back to this community. What do you get out of being here and being part of it?

Angela: Part of it is being able to see the people that I've formed relationships with over the years.

For example, the first time I ever got to know Brad Whitworth, who's like a guru of this organization, I was desperately in need of some information that my CEO asked me to develop something and I had no clue where to start so I thought, "What big companies might have something like that?"

Brad, who didn't know me from anyone, just sent me all kinds of stuff and called me and asked if I needed more information. Then I ended up meeting him at conference, then I became the chairman of IABC, so it's people like him that I just love seeing every year, because part of it is just like an alumni reunion, but part of it is that idea sharing -- what's going on, what's new -- so it's just that constant give and take that keeps me coming back.

Chuck: Speaking of idea sharing and what's new, what are some of the new things or new ideas that sort of have you scratching your head or wanting to investigate more, learn a little bit more about now that maybe you've heard them here or heard about them leading into and now they seem more cemented in your mind.

Angela: I think what's really exciting is the kind of stuff that's happening right here in this booth. It is a lot of the usage metrics and being able to track things that people are doing in ways we never were able to do before, and then being able to use that data to make some decisions, and then check the data again to see if it's actually making a difference in the way things work.

What are you working on now? What's the next big thing that we can expect to see from Angela?

Angela: It's something I've been doing for awhile, but it's really connecting communication to behavioral change in a way that you can calculate a true financial return on an investment.

and that's something that's much more valuable than how many impressions or how many click throughs that you've got, it's what do people do with that information and to what extent do different communications lead them to it.

Chuck: I think that sometimes it's not just what do people do with information, but what are people doing.

You and I have chatted many times before where a lot of people like doing surveys and getting feedback, but also employees lie. They don't always give honest feedback when it comes to surveys, depending on if it's anonymous or not or what you're asking about, but rarely does behavior lie.

What are some ways for communicators to measure behavioral change? What are some things they should be looking at or looking for?

Angela: One of the nice things is a lot of behaviors that are important in organizations are already being tracked by other departments, other functions, so we have to find out who's tracking things like safety, or following a policy, or using teleconferencing instead of traveling, whatever those things are, and then just track those behaviors against when we're making different communications and seeing if they're changing at the same time or in the same location.

Chuck: That sort of runs a little bit to one of the earlier guests was Pinaki Kathiari and he's got a thing about co-creation and how to co-create and work with other groups. This is sort of along those same lines, which is, how do you integrate or have internal comms data that's fed from other sources?

How do you recommend communicators go and find those other sources and partner with those other sources?

Angela: It's a little tricky because sometimes those sources don't want to give up their data, it's like their sense of power, but sometimes you can negotiate with them.

So for example, we had done an employee communications survey where we knew how well-informed different retail regions were on different topics, like strategy. We wanted to find out from finance if there's any correlation between understanding the strategy and profitability. They wouldn't tell us how profitable each region was, but they would give us a list from top to bottom of most profitable to least profitable and that's all we needed because it correlated almost one for one with the people who understood the strategy the best.

Chuck: Last question I have for you is around the visibility of data, because you just said a lot of people don't want to share the data that they have, but then employees don't even know how to act on things because they don't know what the data is.

How would you encourage communicators to then maybe encourage their company or themselves to be more visible with data and share the data so that employees understand it better?

Angela: Let be give you a perfect example from when I was back in the corporate world. We had a consumer company and we had a customer satisfaction survey, and there were things that customers were not happy about that our employees were actually doing so I wanted to communicate with employees what those things were so we could get better results, happier customers. They didn't want to share those bad numbers because what if the competition hears about it? So what we did was we positioned it this way, we said "On any survey there's the top 10 highest things and the top 10 lowest things." Without saying how high high is or how low low is, we just said "These 10 things they love that we do, let's keep doing them. These 10 things they're less satisfied with, how can we make them better?" That's one way you could do it. Again, not with using the exact number of the data, but giving them "This is what's working, this is what's not working," and then involving them in "How do we fix it?"

Chuck: Angela, it's always great seeing you here at IABC World Conference. Again, you were here in Montreal before. I hope to continue seeing it at future World Conferences.

Angela: Thanks so much, Chuck. Loved working with you.