Big Data in PR and Marketing

In the business world, especially any business that’s based primarily online, the volume and speed at which data is gathered continues to grow. In the world of PR, this is true as well. In that area, data is being gathered but is often overlooked. With so much data available for a client’s business, where do you start in terms of analysis? How does one take massive spreadsheets and charts and distill those into actionable business insights? How do you, as someone working in public relations, use data to the quantifiable impact of your PR efforts on the business?

In this post, I’d like to show a few key reports that my clients in public relations have found particularly helpful for their reports, as well as some considerations to make when you’re starting to tell your story through data.

How Data is Being Used in PR

Sentiment Analysis

By combining big data with social media listening and mentions, PR firms and professionals can gather valuable insights and information about their clients from both niche areas as well as industries as a whole. With social media listening and sentiment analysis, PR firms can address any negative publicity stories immediately before they snowball into something much worse.

Trend History, or the Past Predicting the Future

With specific big data tools and even free ones, such as Google Trends, PR pros can see what prompted a specific trend in the past and possibly even predict when it might occur in the future. Perhaps there’s a clearly visible seasonality factor involved? Because many reporting tools work with such massive data sets, anomolies can be addressed and averages clearly calculated over long periods of time. By finding discovering trends that apply directly to you or your client’s business, you can then develop messaging that discusses that trending topic directly, regardless of whether it’s negative or possive.

Developing Strategies for the Future

Using data to report on past marketing and PR efforts isn’t all it can be used for. Using it to show, in black and white numbers, where opportunities exist has been extremely beneficial. I’ve personally used these discoveries on the paid campaign front but also on the content discovery front as well. Using things like competitive research and keyword analysis to name a couple, I’ve found highly targeted and specific pieces of content ideas to that boost organic shares (no grayhat link-building needed!) and increases their thought leadership and brand positioning in their field.

“There’s never been so much content and data available for PR professionals as there is today, but the mass quantity of information can be daunting. Yet buried in all this content is information that can provide real insight for PR professionals.”

March PR Managing Director, Martin Jones via Holmes Report

Next Steps

For years, public relations firms haven’t placed much emphasis on the data-side of things. Now, however, firms are beginning to take note on the potential impact it can have on the client’s business but also drive home the importance of an integrated PR and marketing strategy and the impact those have had.

With big data and advanced tracking solutions, PR firms everywhere now have the ability to apply an even more agile and proactive strategy to the ever-changing economic and media environments.

How has data impacted your efforts in Public Relations? Do you find that clients are more receptive to reports heavily backed by numbers? Share your story in the comments!