By Nick Helsby, CEO of Watson Helsby.

It is ironic, but despite the proliferation of data and the increasingly sophisticated service and product offerings of vendors in the marketplace (where consolidation continues apace), the corporate affairs and communications function(s) still struggle to collect data and insight that enables them to demonstrate the business outcomes that the function drives or enables; outcomes that are important to the success of the business and the achievement of its strategic priorities.

This lack of data that provides evidence of value creation and/or commercial relevance means that the function is often seen as a soft and easy target by sceptical CFOs. It can certainly make it difficult to put forward a robust evidence-based case for additional investment.

A prevailing skills gap – at the root of this problem is the fact that data analytics capability has never been built into the function. It does not have the same level of sophistication and data-savviness as does, for instance, Marketing.

Admittedly this is changing as both in-house teams (in the UK it is mainly in the FTSE20 where resource and budgets are bigger) and consultancies are investing in this capability, with some in-house teams building their own proprietorial models.

Without specialist this expertise in the function, it is virtually impossible to decide on the best tools and approaches to employ in collecting data that will help demonstrate and assess performance and business impact. Furthermore, a less sophisticated and knowledgeable buyer cannot hope to assess and interrogate the tools and platforms sold by vendors in this space.

Following some round table sessions on this topic, we identified five functional characteristics that, as result of this lack of data savviness, have evolved over the years…

EACD Members can read the full article here.

On 7 June 2022 the EACD organized a virtual event called The Promise of Data, featuring Nick Helsby, Ed Petter and Simona Radu. During this timely conversation they reflected on the challenges and opportunities of collecting and measuring data. You can watch the event here.


Nick Helsby, CEO of Watson Helsby, a specialist corporate affairs and communications executive search,research and consulting firm. He has over twenty years headhunting experience, in the UK, Europe,Middle East and Africa, placing senior communications, PR and corporate affairs professionals in someof the world’s leading organisations including BBC, BP, Barclays Bank, Coca-Cola, Estée Lauder, TetraPak, Bank of England, Virgin, Allen & Overy, Lilly, Rio Tinto and The Wellcome Trust to name but a few.