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September 1, 2022

Look at data more from a business output perspective: Sagarika from Licious

Sagarika always knew that she was destined for a career in PR and communications. She began her journey with agencies and today leads PR and communications at Licious. In this episode, she discusses her journey and how data has been key in driving brand narrative and management. 1. How did you end up in this […]

Look at data more from a business output perspective: Sagarika from Licious

Sagarika always knew that she was destined for a career in PR and communications. She began her journey with agencies and today leads PR and communications at Licious. In this episode, she discusses her journey and how data has been key in driving brand narrative and management.

1. How did you end up in this field of communications?

I’ve been working in public relations and communications for the past 12 years. I studied communication and it was a deliberate choice. I started out by working with the agencies and spent about eight and a half years working in PR agencies. Post that, I decided to switch to branding to learn about businesses a little more closely. Licious is the first brand that I have worked with and I have been with them for three years now. That’s how the journey has been so far. 

2. What was your first experience with data?

The first experience with data in PR was the usual calculation of the MAV or the ad equivalent value that we use for measuring ROI for PR campaigns. Then, of course, the industry has progressed a little, and the fact that I now work more closely with the brand has improved the experience.  I have started to look at data more from a business output perspective, including how that impacts the overall communication strategy and ultimately, ROI. 

3. Was there any comms challenges where data came in handy in solving it?

One of the main drawbacks to public relations or corporate communication is that the industry hasn’t evolved enough to use data to showcase output. In my eight and a half years working in an agency, this is how I’ve seen it happen. Finally, when I moved on to the business side, things were a lot more quantitative in nature.It was critical for you to highlight data as a success metric in order to achieve what you are looking for in terms of a project or finance. The challenge that I face and I’m working towards solving is how to quantify PR and communication efforts. The other important point is that, as a business and as a BU head, we’re all assigned OKRs at the start of the year, and they’re all tied to our performance and eventual success or lack thereof. That metric itself is highly quantifiable, and it uses data to illustrate its effectiveness. Deriving and implementing OKRs in the communication itself has been a data challenge. That’s something I’ve been learning over the past two years and putting together. These are the two key challenges we’re attempting to solve through data.

4. What is your most important metric in communications?

I am in the business of reputation management. It is tough to assign a metric when you are working towards creating an image for the brand, for the leadership, and for the people. Having said that, I do use key metrics like an overall analysis of visibility vis a vis competition. However, I try to look at competition from the customer’s point of view. For example, you might think that Licious’ direct competition is another company that sells meat and seafood or provides a similar type of experience. But the truth is, in the customer’s mind, Swiggy is as much competition to Licious as Zomato is. Anything that tries to replicate the whole ease, convenience, and accessibility that a D2C company provides will be considered a competitor. So, considering the customer’s lens gives a more realistic picture of the entire industry. Sentiment analysis is also a very key metric for communication. You may be present across several newspapers and publications, but what counts are the few articles that reach your target customer, how you’re portrayed, or the sentiment the news conveys. Does the report try to instill trust? How the story is told is more important than how frequently it is told.  As a result, I use sentiment analysis as one of the tools when it comes to business. 

We also use our regular ad value equivalence, etc., wherein we try to understand the overall impact that is being created through numbers. Another thing that I try to look at is peaks and dips in a month or quarter of PR performance. I look at the peaks and the dips individually to understand what we did right and what we did wrong. I do use a lot more metrics-based systems when it comes to social media. We pay close attention to all social media performance because we are customer-facing brands and social media is a huge window for customers to come in and talk to us. So, we use that platform a lot better and it’s a lot more quantifiable. We use standard listening parameters as well as quantitative and qualitative metric systems.

5. Which are your favorite platforms when it comes to extracting data insights?

We work with the agencies that help us do this. As a company also, we own some. Currently, I am using Salesforce and social media listening. But when it comes to PR, especially PR on traditional media, it’s the agency that does the regular tracking and monitoring and comes back to us with data.

7. How do you see data and communications evolving in the coming days?

We haven’t really scratched the surface when it comes to utilizing data in communication. As an industry, this is one of the biggest drawbacks. While we do a significant amount of work when it comes to influencing, reputation management, or brand building, the effort to quantify and put it on the table as metrics that are easily understandable by the marketing folks is missing. There is a dire need to use more and more data to understand the impact that you are creating. In business, you use data for two things. One is for understanding the problem, and the second thing is for measuring your solution. You will not be able to grow anything that you are not able to measure. The more effectively you do the measuring part of the job, the more easily the function is going to grow, the process is going to grow, and the industry is going to grow. In terms of data and PR, there is hardly any work that has happened, and there is so much more that is left to be done. Take a look at how social media has evolved tools. There are so many wonderful metrics for measurement, analysis, and deep dives. I don’t see why traditional public relations wouldn’t be able to accomplish this. So that’s a gap waiting to be filled. 

8. What are your 2 cents for the budding professional communication professionals out there?

You must understand the whole scope of communication. It is expanding as we speak. We live in an era that is probably connected more than it needs to be. However, that just increases the scope of the whole communication that exists in our lives and in our jobs. It’s very important to be aware and to keep on learning because the whole landscape is not going to be the way it is in the next five years. Professionals like me, who started working ten or twelve years ago, have had a bit of an advantage from the point of view that the industry has been stable. But from where I see right now and the way tech is evolving, communication is really going to grow and the industry is going to mean something else. So, it’s very important to keep your eyes and ears open and to understand what’s happening around you so that you can keep yourself up to speed. I believe there is no segregation when it comes to communication. It is probably unwise to think that you will do only traditional PR or only social or look at only influencers because none of this exists in silos. Communication exists as a whole, and if you do not have a working knowledge of how the different parts work, you will not be able to deliver on the whole, or not be able to deliver on the part that you probably have expertise in.

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