By Reem Masswadeh – Director of Client Servicing at Cicero & Bernay Public Relations.
In the current marketing world, it is important to efficiently use every tool that is available to you, to be able to keep up with your competitors. While PR is not often looked at as a data-driven field, especially when compared to other areas of marketing, there is actually plenty of concrete data you can use to measure your efforts.
Measuring PR isn’t as easy as your social media impact, but there are still figures to be found that can help you make changes to your PR strategy. It’s much simpler to make decisions when you are able to back them with real numbers.
PR has always been considered a highly-effective, long-term marketing strategy. Most start-ups face a lot of challenges when it comes to public relations. They often lack the resources and vision to stir up good PR. Building those crucial connections with an audience and the media can be expensive, and with many new businesses operating on a firm budget, an ultra-robust PR campaign doesn’t always seem feasible.
That’s where a data-driven approach comes into play.
Integrating data into your PR strategy delivers numerous benefits. Rich data sets can give your marketing team the information they need to make smarter decisions for growth. And yet, Cision’s Global Comms Report found only 19% of companies were actually enjoying the advantage of data in their PR efforts. However, 61% found data provided their team with better insight into content consumption, and 80% said it helped them understand how people found their brand’s content online.
Now we will look at some of the steps you can take to create more data-driven PR strategies.
Define how to narrate the brand story
Before embarking on a data-driven PR strategy, your team needs to define and identify goals for your business. Start by evaluating who and what your brand is. Once the basis of your brand narrative is in place, you need to decide how it will be communicated to the audience with data-backed strategies. With this information, your PR team will start to understand the essence of the brand and who its customers are, and, in turn, will see how to best narrate this story through PR messaging.
Review your current and potential sources of data
Start by looking at information about your brand’s competitors. There are plenty of data-backed social listening tools that allow your PR team to track the strategies of competing brands and identify their traffic sources, SEO strategies, and even their social media audiences. This can give your team a better idea of what is or isn’t working for other companies in the same industry and provide a foundation for your brand’s own data-driven strategies. Look at current interactions to see how customers perceive your brand. Conduct a preliminary market research campaign to identify customer pain points, opinions, and suggestions to give insight into current standings. Start with what is available and build from there.
Use data insights to create actionable content
Now, the most important step of establishing a data-driven PR plan is actually applying the data. This is often the trickiest part, even for the most knowledgeable and experienced marketers. Using the data you’ve collected from your various sources, you need to use your new learnings to decide the direction of your future campaigns. This will allow you to have more hits than misses with your target audience and help develop a stronger connection with the brand.
A great example of a successful data-led campaign is NCDV UK’s ‘The Not-So-Beautiful Game’ campaign. The campaign was derived from data that reported an increase in domestic violence whenever England lost. Using this strong data-based insight, the brand spread powerful images across digital, OOH and print. The ads ran on every England, Switzerland and Japan match day, right through to the end of the World Cup.
Another great example is the AD Council gun violence campaign, which used the data-based insight that 8 kids a day are accidentally killed or injured by ‘family fire’. Using an impactful insight to change the conversation and shift perceptions around gun ownership, the strengths of this campaign lie in its ability to pose questions rather than point fingers, urging people to think differently.
Remember, PR strategies are more of a long marathon than a quick 100m sprint. It takes time to gather enough data to gain truly deep insights into your audience. Data-driven PR requires an understanding of not just how to apply data but how to gather the most meaningful sources of information as well.
Opinions expressed in this piece belongs to the author.