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Written by Team Wizikey

April 30, 2022

We will need a multi-channel approach: Prakash from Allstate India

In this episode of Data Champions in Communications, we have Prakash Katariya, Head and Manager, Corporate Communications of Allstate India.

We will need a multi-channel approach: Prakash from Allstate India

 

Data-driven communications can help you create campaigns that engage, impact, and drive action. In this episode of Data Champions in Communications, we have Prakash Katariya, Head and Manager, Corporate Communications of Allstate India.

1.  How did you end up in communications?

I started my career as a senior customer service adviser for an International Bank, headquartered in the UK. The night shifts were quite difficult. Hence, I was looking for a better opportunity. AXA, the insurance giant, had set up an office in Pune and when I applied they said they have a vacancy for somebody who needs to just coordinate with their Paris office. The candidate will need to do things like posters, work on PowerPoint presentations, and maybe help senior leaders with their speeches, etc. They asked if I can do it and I agreed. I took up the job and ended up seven years in AXA, setting up the function from scratch—all the aspects around corporate relations and internal communication. 

2. When was your first interaction with data?

When I started out, people did not feel data had any role in communications. However, I had a different take from the beginning. The only issue was where you get the data from. For example, at that time, we were doing a lot of internal communications, and getting leadership numbers was difficult because Outlook was the only medium. We had to struggle to get the data on the leadership campaigns. If you are doing a physical event, it is easy because you can measure the footfalls, the number of questions, time spent on each topic, and accordingly, you can get some insights into it. However, slowly the world started changing in the communications space and it became insights-driven. Pandemic has been a super booster for data use cases in communications as everything went digital. Now, data is in abundance, but to mine that data you need to apply your expertise around the topic and see what data makes sense. 

We produce a quarterly dashboard for which we get the inputs every month. It covers all the channels for the company– right from the company website, social media, press, to internal communications. We have been quite successful at doing this because it’s been a practice for the last five years now. We get quarterly trends around the audience, uptake around increase in engagement through likes, comments.

A new trend that has picked up now is social listening in terms of reputation management. I was lucky as I got introduced to these concepts quite early on. In 2015, I attended a class at Oxford University on reputation management. At that time, we had discussed use cases around Uber, because Uber was new and they were different. How is it that these companies suddenly picked up and achieve success? A lot of it depends on reputation management. So, I think data has been central. 

3. Tell us about a challenge where data played a vote on a role in solving it?

There was a challenge around repositioning and creating sub-brands. It was during the pandemic. We did activities around blog etc. LinkedIn was quite helpful because we could get a lot of data around the reach. Click on the dashboard shows places, locations, demographics, names of companies or industries, and more precisely in segmenting your audience reach. That was very helpful. I think a lot of solutions that LinkedIn has built are really helping to get those insights around where people are. That helped with identity creation, and that activity lasted for about four months and it went well.

4. What is your go-to metric?

 I first look at the basics in terms of reach, etc. I would determine what the other attributes are based on the activity. If that activity requires us to target a certain specific location, then location becomes the primary aspect. However, for a communications person or anyone working on campaigns, I would suggest they should not completely be carried away by data because messaging plays a key part. Unless you plan your message in such a way that an attribute or data element is able to pinpoint you towards the success of that particular message or the core narrative in your messaging it will not be able to fetch data. Hence, keep an eye on the messaging and at the same time use dashboards/data to help the brand with its mission. Try to understand where your communication campaigns are going, and whether they are really aligned with a certain purpose and objective of the company. 

5. What are your favorite tools for data insights?

There are many. A few years ago, data analytics was my favorite. Now it is one of the tools. There is one issue–how do you integrate all these tools. 

6. How do you see data and comms evolve?

The lines have become blurred as the pandemic has changed the game. Different people are feeling it in different ways. For companies, it means they will need data-driven communications more in the future. With the world changing so fast, it is difficult to conclude if one channel is good than the other. A multi-channel approach is what we will need. The understanding of what is working, effort, and resultant ROI needs to be determined and data is the tool that will tell where to pinpoint. When it comes to reputation or messaging, there are new ways of doing things now. For instance, long-form content did not work during the pandemic as the attention span became smaller. These decisions are better arrived at by data.  

7. What is your 2 cents for the budding communications professionals?

Innovation and data will play a major role in communication, so keep innovating and challenging the status quo. There will be new ways and methods of doing things. Secondly, innovation with an analytical mindset is something that has to be done more in communications.

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