Dave Samson, General Manager, Public Affairs, at Chevron and current Chairman of The Arthur W. Page Society, is one of the PR industry’s leaders in using big data and analytics. He’s also at the leading edge of digital PR.
Dave agreed to answer some questions about big data and how Chevron is using it in public affairs, and I will share those answers in a three Blogs over the next week or so. Here is the first:
Forrest Anderson: What is Chevron doing with big data today? How is it using it and why?
Dave Samson: We are using data in every aspect of our communications function to predict the actions of our key stakeholders and to actively engage those stakeholders most critical to advancing the interest of our business. At the same time, data and advanced analytics give us the ability to better predict risks to our business and to get ahead of those threats. As a result, we can better identify, engage and activate stakeholders to take action favorable to our company. We are also forging new internal partnerships, including with our technology colleagues who are critical to helping us deliver on our vision of the future.
Forrest Anderson: How do you believe Chevron and other organizations will use big data in the future? What will the applications be? Do you have any sense of how organizations will make that happen?
Dave Samson: Technology and data are transforming the communications function and, by extension, the skills and capabilities now required to do our jobs. If you think about it, many of the engagement models we have today were created in an analog world, targeting a Baby Boomer generation. We are now operating in a digital world and targeting a growing Millennial generation. As a result, as communicators we must reassess all of our engagement models within this new context. Likewise, we must build fluency in several new areas, including digital engagement, advanced analytics and behavioral sciences.
In the past, we would track and/or measure the stated intent or opinions of our stakeholders. We then based our engagement strategies on the expectations we perceived them to have about our respective companies or industry sectors. But now, we can track peoples’ actual actions and behaviors, giving us a much more detailed understanding of these stakeholders and their motivations. This dynamic is a game changer in our profession. While experience and intuition still matter, the real power is when we can combine experience and intuition with vast amounts of stakeholder data, giving us the ability to predict whether a certain stakeholder’s stated intent is likely to match [that stakeholder’s] actions.
In the next week or so, I’ll be sending out two more Blogs with Dave’s comments on the importance of data, analytics and digital PR.