Best Buy CCO, Matt Furman on Storytelling Over Data & Championing Truth in the DEI Discussion [Episode 32]


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Matt Furman serves as the Chief Communications and Public Affairs Officer at Best Buy, where he’s been since 2012. He’s responsible for communications--internal and external--as well as government affairs, CSR, and community relations. In addition, Matt manages event planning and Best Buy’s in-house production studio.

Before joining the Minneapolis retailer, Matt held the Vice President of Corporate Affairs job at Mars Chocolate. Earlier gigs included communications leadership positions at Google and CNN. He worked in the administrations of Bill Clinton and Rudy Giuliani as well. A graduate of the American University School of Law, Matt is a licensed attorney and has been a member of the journalism and mass communication adjunct faculty at the University of Minnesota.

Here are some key takeaways from this interview.

Consistency is the key to communications. Matt very elegantly stated, ‘if you speak to 100 people, a third of them didn't listen, a third of them forgot what you said, and the other third didn't believe you. And so you’ve got to speak, and you’ve got to speak again, and you’ve got to speak again.” The statement speaks for itself and is a true testament to how the job of a communicator is never truly done and comms workers must take note of that. Repetition is the key to scaling the efficacy of any communications campaign.

Not everybody is convinced data and analytics have a central role to play. Matt has resisted the prevailing industry view that communications can be understood scientifically, the way marketing can, which is why he employs data in a limited fashion at Best Buy. The main reason, he says, is the difficulty of measuring sentiment in a communications context. For him, when a good story is told well,l it will be recognized. Similarly, when a crisis is handled well–or poorly—people will know it, and they don’t need data to convince them.

With matters of DEI, put everything on the table. The road to better DEI standards and practices can be daunting, but the best, and arguably, the only place to start is with your own company’s truth. Stating upfront where you know you need to do better not only inspires trust and faith in your employees & customers but allows you not to be paralyzed by the fear of your own company’s shortcomings since you owned up to them upfront. It may be uncomfortable, but any discussions that lead to lasting change have to start with the truth, regardless of how hard it may be.


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