Why Data Should Be at the Core of Your PR Efforts
Many public relations professionals gravitate to the field for its focus on verbal and written skills. However, as in most professions, industry leaders are strong in both language and math skill sets.
As a PR professional and social media marketer at PR tech company AirPR, I’m here to explain why data should inform your PR efforts. This cannot be stressed enough.
Why is this relevant to social media marketers? Because social media is the ultimate communication channel between brands and the public, and thus, in my opinion, should be connected to public relations efforts.
Dealing with data can be intimidating, I know. But when you’re clear about what information you’re going to focus on and the reasons why data review, analysis, and use are worth your time, you’ll not only be less intimidated, you may even become an expert.
Here are three reasons why data should be at the core of your PR efforts.
#1 – You Should Know What’s Important
Digital business structures enable quick change. Marketers in all sectors — especially those that are new (i.e., social media) or in a process of evolution and reinvention (i.e., public relations) — are likely to be measuring their results against the KPIs that they and their colleagues are used to, and not necessarily the metrics that truly show key performance.
The Social Media Metrics Map
Reviewing data about the contributions you’ve made and placements that you’ve garnered, the messages that most resonate with your audiences, and the actions that your audiences take as a result, allows you to better understand what is important to your brand or the brand you are representing.
Once you’ve begun a practice of data review — whether it be from a measurement platform, your company’s analytics provider, or elsewhere — look at what conversations, publications, and journalists are most impactful, and thus more important to your brand or client.
This will tell you whom you should be cultivating relationships with, and where you should focus your time.
#2 – You Should Understand Why Things Are Changing
Using data to understand trends in the effects of your work over time allows you to compare your current work against both your past successes and your competitive set.
This visibility allows you to see patterns, which can be used to prioritize and make plans based on trends that you see.
Data should provide visibility into where the hurdles or missing parts of your workflow are occurring. When reviewing your data, look for the signals that matter. There are many ways to parse through and apply data, so all marketing professionals have to be judicious about what they are paying attention to.
As I recently noted, the results of PR-driven content have a longer life than the social amplification they receive on their publish date. They often continue to drive engagement and site traffic long after the content has gone live. Given that companies of all sizes are becoming increasingly focused on branded content, it’s more important than ever that PR professionals demonstrate the residual results of their content and storytelling efforts.
After following this practice multiple times, you may find new ways to engage, and even anticipate some changes. Use the “Scientific Method for PR” as your guide:
#3 – You Should Validate Your Work
Geoffrey Moore, author of Crossing the Chasm, said it best: “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.”
Using data to inform your PR efforts enables you to report things to a data-minded person like a CMO, so that they can understand what you have accomplished and what you are doing next.
Long gone are the days when one’s intuition was reason enough to explain business decision-making processes. Decisions are driven by data. Executives want hard facts to drive smart decisions and to enable them to confidently explain those choices to stakeholders. Data is the why.
Why do you do what you do, how you do it, and when you do it? Following this cycle may help you answer these questions.
Hopefully I’ve convinced you of the importance of using data and the opportunities it provides.
If you’re still in doubt about whether using data is worth your time, remember: information enables analysis, which leads to insight and recommendation generation, which informs optimization.
Embrace your data. It’s a core strength.