big-dataHere is the third (and for the time being, final) of my Blog posts with Dave Samson, General Manager, Public Affairs, at Chevron and current Chairman of The Arthur W. Page Society, answering questions about data, analytics and digital PR. To read more from Dave, see my last two Blog posts.

Forrest Anderson: How are you organized at Chevron to take advantage of big data? Do you have a statistician or data scientist on staff? What role does this person play? How much does he or she understand about communications in general and Chevron’s communications in specific? How much do your staffers with more traditional PR backgrounds know about big data and analytics? How do you actually generate the insights?

Dave Samson: Our team’s structure and processes are different today than they were just three years ago.  At the same time, we are developing and acquiring new capabilities, particularly in data and analytics, content creation and distribution, as well as social engagement and paid advocacy.  Likewise, we are working to accelerate the digital fluency and proficiency of everyone on our team. No one is exempt from developing these new skills.
And the changes are visible. Three years ago, we did not have a digital strategy and communications team. Today we do. Likewise, we did not have a data scientist on the team. Today we do. At the same time, we now have a manager of insights and analytics, a manager of digital content and distribution, and a stakeholder intelligence advisor.  All of these are new and important roles within our team.

Forrest Anderson: What kinds of corporate resources were necessary for you to get started down the big data path? [My hypothesis is that big data use in communications will likely happen first at larger organizations that use big data for other purposes and that savvy communications leaders will tap into those existing resources and then, perhaps, go on to develop resources specifically tailored to communications. Does your case support this hypothesis or not?]

Dave Samson: Chevron business is driven by geology – we go to where the resources lie and we use data and technology to identify the most promising resources, and then we extract them safely and responsibly. As the head of public affairs, my team’s job is to help manage the geology above the ground, the “social geology,” and data is my team’s natural resource. And, depending on where we are doing business in the world, the above the ground geology can be extremely challenging. We are using advanced analytics and all the data at our disposal to create real-time, actionable intelligence and the ability to predict and manage risks to our business. As a result, our stakeholder strategies are better informed and engagement activities are more targeted.

While Chevron has a long history of using data to create predictive models and improve its decision making, I strongly believe that all companies now have the opportunity to use data and analytics to modify or change their engagement models and strategies.  In my mind, this is no longer a nice to do, it is a business imperative.

Forrest Anderson: How important is digital and analytical fluency for members of your staff?

Every communications professional – at every level – must build digital/social engagement fluency and proficiency.  If they fail to build these capabilities, on a perpetual basis, their skills will become obsolete. 

Thanks again to Dave Samson for sharing great insights on the use of data and analytics in PR and communications!


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