‍Lea Waskowiak joined o2 Telefónica in December 2022 as Specialist Communication Strategy & Analytics. In her role, she is responsible for data analysis and communications controlling on the one hand, and data storytelling on the other. She studied M.A. Communication Management at the University of Leipzig. She continues to be loyal to the Leipzig chair through her doctorate: here she is working on the communication of specialist boards and deliberately takes a look beyond the CEO. In addition, she leads the impact measurement cluster in the CommTech WG together with Jörg..

Thomas Mickeleit: Topic management is a somewhat colorful term that sounds good at first. What does it actually mean from your perspective?

Lea Waskowiak: For me, topic management is part of the communication management process. With regard to a topic to be communicated, it is also important to go through all phases of the management process – i.e. from analysis to planning and implementation to evaluation. Often, the problem is that evaluation is used to look at the past and is not used for planning purposes. However, this is exactly the casus knackus of a functioning control system: control is not possible without planning and, conversely, a new planning cycle is not possible without control information.

Thomas Mickeleit: The crucial question then is, how do I actually get to the topics? How do you go about this at Telefónica?

Lea Waskowiak: The identification of our themes feeds on two strands. On the one hand, there is a theme architecture that is derived from the corporate strategy or the purpose of the company. On the other hand, we identify thematic opportunities through systematic listening and monitoring of the corporate environment, so that we can act on them at shorter notice and use them for our positioning.

Thomas Mickeleit: How is it then ensured that the identified topics are actually addressed in day-to-day business?

Lea Waskowiak: In order to be able to ensure this, there are topic managers in our newsroom as well as channel managers. In this way, we also succeed in continuously planning and implementing the communication of our Key Topics in our day-to-day business. In order for us to then get into a topic control, the shoulder connection with the controlling must not be missing.

Thomas Mickeleit: In the communication process, the topic analysis is the starting point. What considerations should be made to properly set up a topic analysis? What do you have to start with?

Lea Waskowiak: I always start by questioning what the goal of my topic analysis is and to whom it is directed. It makes a difference, for example, whether I report the performance of a topic to the board – with the aim of making the value contribution of communication visible and strengthening the internal reputation of the department – or whether I prepare the topic analysis for colleagues. The focus here may then be more on learning together or making deductions for managing communication activities. The level at which I analyze topics also depends on this. While management may be satisfied with the analysis of overarching key topics, it is worthwhile to differentiate topics more strongly for management and to take a specific look at individual subtopics.

Thomas Mickeleit: Keyword success measurement. How do you measure the success of your measures? Often only the performance of channels is measured, but not of topics? But that’s what it’s all about. How is that set up for you?

Lea Waskowiak: We usually measure the performance of our topics on a monthly basis in the form of a share of voice analysis – both for higher-level topics and for subtopics. Key KPIs for us are the percentage of share of voice, e.g. in reporting, but also the tonality of a particular topic. In addition, we can also evaluate whether a topic was actively or rather passively communicated. Continuous peer benchmarking helps to identify the extent to which certain topics are also being addressed by competitors, for example.

Thomas Mickeleit: In our next CommTech webinar with IMWF on March 22, we’ll address the question: is there such a thing as the ultimate dashboard? What is your view on this and how do you visualize your data?

Lea Waskowiak: A dashboard that bundles all channels is a good start. Whether this is needed, however, depends entirely on the way the newsroom works and on the goal and addressees of the analysis. From there, an ultimate dashboard for me is one that is tailored exactly to the needs of the communications department. In my experience, however, it is mainly specialists like me who work with dashboards. In order to make the analyses accessible to colleagues from other areas, the transfer of the findings in the form of reporting must not be missing. Only if I enrich the output of my dashboard with concrete interpretations and recommendations for action can I really succeed in systematically using the results of the analysis to manage communication.