10 ways to use data in public relations
Public relations is becoming increasingly data driven. That’s a good thing.
Big data has been adopted by the public relations business in a wave of enthusiasm in the last 10 years.
Data should always be the basis of good practice. It's a planning fundamental.
Ketchum practitioners worldwide are trained in a four stage process that covers the domains of research, insight, strategy and creative (RISC).
It's a framework developed by our research, planning and creative teams, employed as a standard throughout the business from Brazil to Brussels, and from San Francisco to Singapore.
In recent years the internet has made it easier than ever to gain public relations insight. Now that so much of human life and media touches the internet, it takes very little effort to gain basic insight into public behaviour.
We have unprecedented access to data that can enable us to understand audiences or publics, and listen to what they think about us, our products and services, competitors and our market.
In this sense the social web is a massive market research exercise that no ever commissioned. Increasingly there are tools to help us to cut these large amounts of data down to size.
We use this insight to help plan campaigns, develop measurable objectives, and measure the outcomes of our work. It’s adding rigor to our jobs.
Here are ten areas where data is being used in public relations.
#1 Searching for answers
#2 Research reports
Scour the web for relevant data. The International Telecommunication Union, Mary Meeker’s annual internet report, OFCOM and UK Office for National Statistics, are all good starting points for free data.
#3 Talk to people
When did you last talk to your stakeholders? Seek out your public and ask them what they think and how they feel. You’ll almost certainly always learn something. This frequently provides good data points for creating campaign personas.
If you can’t talk to people the next best way of seeking out opinion is to use a survey. It’s scalable but be careful what and who you ask to participate. Google Forms or SurveyMonkey are good, low cost options.
#5 Behavioural insight
The best way to discover how people respond to an issue is to watch how they react and what they do. There’s often a huge difference between how people react and the action they take and how they say they reacted. That’s human nature.
#6 Quantitative research
The data business is incredibly valuable. In every market data gathers collect information and repurpose it for organisations in reports. You’ll typically need a significant budget to access this specialist information.
#7 Seek out academic expertise
Google Scholar is a search engine for academic research that will help find relevant research while ResearchGate will connect you directly with academics. Someone, somewhere will almost certainly have investigated the issue that concerns you.
#8 Media habits
Increasingly social media platforms make consumer behaviour available for free. Facebook Audience Insights is a good place to start. It provides insight into the 1.6 billion people that use the platform each month.
#9 Social media listening
Whenever you’re asked why an organisation should engage on social media, use a listening tool to explore conversations around the organisation and its market. You’ll almost certainly find something useful.
#10 Owned media
If you’re working with an organisation that has an app or website ask for access to its analytics. This will provide insight on how people get to the site and what they do when they get there.
Final point. Always track back to the original source and review data through a sceptical lens for bias, whatever the source.