Strategic role in communications further improved, need for data driven management grows

Published on 27 May 2019

The position of communications within the organisation has become stronger, stated 73% of participants in the fourth Berenschot Communications Benchmark 2018-2019. As well as acting as content expert, the Communications department is increasingly acting as strategic dialogue partner and uses this role to offer added value for the organisation: increasing trust, offering support to achieve organisational objectives and improving the organisation’s communications. Interestingly, only 18% of participants use big data in this.

‘It is good to see that the strategic position of communications departments is again being further developed. Data-driven management can raise this ambition still further. It helps communications departments to ‘bring in’ the outside world, make strategic choices and increase their impact,’ explained Mark Weijers, Communications Expert at Berenschot.

Internal communications becoming more important

The Communications Benchmark 2018-2019 also showed that the ‘communicating organisation’ trend is continuing. For the next step, it is important that communications departments offer good support, coaching and advice to all layers of the organisation. The participants also appear to consider internal communications to be more important and spend more time on this. This means that internal communications are increasingly seen as the basis for good external communications. Noteworthy is that 82% of participants indicate that their organisation is insufficiently informed about the communication strategy and the organisational message.

Digital transformation

Digitisation is continuing in communications departments. The results show that the core task focus lies increasingly on digital functions, and online channels are used more frequently. ‘Departments are working in a strongly content-driven way; the newsroom is commonplace. Social media have reached maturity. These are now absolutely equivalent to traditional media and increasingly form a more integral part of all communications,’ explained Eva Starmans, Communications Expert at Berenschot.

Evidence-based communication

The benchmark further shows that the aim is for data-driven management. Participants talk about evidence-based communications, demonstrating the added value and the effect of communications. This is for accountability purposes, but also to be able to manage and provide the organisation with relevant knowledge from the outside world. The popularity of reputation as indicator for the communications function is decreasing. Participants indicate that they see reputation as a responsibility of the entire organisation. For now, only a small proportion of them are experimenting with big data as source for management information.

About the Communications Benchmark

The Communications Benchmark compares the communication functions of organisations on various topics and provides insight into the added value and future of these functions in various organisations in the public and semi-public sectors. The following organisations participated in this fourth edition: Netherlands Authority for the Financial Markets, De Nederlandsche Bank, Municipality of Eindhoven, Municipality of Groningen, Municipality of Rotterdam, GGZ (mental healthcare institution) Rivierduinen, Police, Province of Noord-Holland, Rijkswaterstaat (Directorate-General for Public Works and Water Management), ROC (Regional Training Centre) RijnIJssel and Netherlands Forestry Management Agency. At the start of the year, Berenschot also concluded a survey for all government inspectorates. The aim is to develop multiple sector benchmarks and establish an international Communications Benchmark.


Robert Wester_klein

Robert Wester

Senior managing consultant

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