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We all now operate in a multichannel, data-led environment, says 3 Monkeys Zeno’s Sarah Ogden

PRmoment’s Ben Smith recently caught up with 3 Monkey’s Zeno director Sarah Ogden to get an agency perspective on the changing requirements of in-house PR and communication teams.

Ben Smith: What skills are most useful within in-house teams?
Sarah Ogden: There are two key sets of skills. Firstly, it’s about listening. To be tuned in, always. You need to be a conscious communications practitioner that understands the bigger picture and has a love of media, business and cultural information. It’s about always learning, knowledge sharing and never standing still. Secondly, the part that never changes; the skill of being an excellent communicator, on a very human level. To write like an expert, nurture relationships and networks and demonstrate strong emotional and rational intelligence. PR, like marketing, is just psychology after all.

Ben Smith: How is the role of an agency changing?
Sarah Ogden: How long have you got?! Good agencies are ever changing to reflect new channels, content and audience expertise needs. The most macro change at the moment is the increasing importance of communications as a central function to business success by connecting all the human parts of the business together - from customer experience, sales, employer engagement, stakeholders and influencer engagement. One brand, one experience. Agencies operate at their optimum when they are used as business partners – bringing expertise and knowledge to better enable businesses to connect with all the people that matter.

Ben Smith: How have the skills within agency teams changed in recent years?
Sarah Ogden: There is more focus on human insights. The ability to proactively and reactively analyse data to nurture strategic and creative approaches has become a core part of what good agencies do. Operationally that translates into the ability to: • Plan and execute across owned, earned and paid for channels. • Produce and create media of every shape and format. • Respond to deeper client demands resulting in more complex consultancy, creation and activation.

Ben Smith: How have the demands of your clients changed in the last 5 years?
Sarah Ogden: See all of the above! I would add everyone wants more for less. The constraints of money, time and resource means greater focus on integration, smarter working etc. which has its pros and cons.

Ben Smith: Tell me about 3 Monkey Zeno’s evaluation system ROAR
Sarah Ogden: Having a data-led, prove everything mind-set and a desire to correlate communications outputs with business outcomes is why we created our R.O.A.R (real outcomes and results) evaluation and planning scorecard system. Comms people can now harness data and human insights to drive better, more impactful communications. Storytelling remains fundamental, but that alone is no longer enough. Communications must prove ROI every step of the way. The story told needs to land with the right audience, in the right channel, at the right time. The questions we must address are not just how we measure, but also how do we optimise? We call this Performance Communications. Measuring not just output, but actual outcomes. Driving audiences to take action, engage, purchase, shift behaviour - and deliver quantifiable business impact. The competition for internal and external audience attention is growing. It has never been more important to measure the efficacy of our communications beyond just outputs such as coverage volume and reach, to include a detailed, qualitative analysis. We need to know where and how our message is landing, and the behavioural/attitudinal shifts that occur as a direct result of our campaigns. What’s more, the exponential growth in the volume and variety of channels available across paid, owned, shared, and earned media has introduced a wealth of additional metrics to the already complex world of measurement, making accurate and accountable reporting ever more challenging but important. Enter ROAR, 3 Monkeys Zeno’s proprietary effectiveness framework.

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