What is Data-driven PR and Why Should You Be Using It?

Shannon Menard
By Shannon Menard

In today’s marketing world, you need to use every tool at your disposal to keep up with your competition. And while you might not think of public relations as a data-driven field, at least not when compared to other areas of marketing, there is actually plenty of tangible data you can use to measure your efforts.

True, measuring PR isn’t as easy as, say, measuring your social media impact, but despite it being a bit more difficult to pinpoint the numbers, there are still figures to be found that can help you make changes to your PR strategy. These numbers that you find in a data-driven PR strategy can help you deliver numbers that are easily digestible for media professionals and incentivize them to cover your brand. It’s much easier for professionals to make decisions when you are able to put real numbers in front of them.

But how can you use data-driven PR effectively? In this post, we’re going to dive into data-driven PR and help you understand why this is yet another item you need in your marketing toolbox.

What is Data-driven PR?

Did you see the Brad Pitt movie Moneyball? It’s about Oakland Athletics general manager, Billy Beane, and how he embraced the growing wave of data available to measure a player’s performance, known as analytics, rather than relying on the old-school eye test. By using numbers to evaluate a player’s performance, the A’s were able to form a winning team on a budget. This is essentially data-driven PR in a nutshell.

By using all of the available data, you will be able to form a more cohesive PR strategy that delivers results based on real information, rather than going with your gut, relying on a hunch, or having no strategy at all.

Data-driven PR can actually mean two things: tracking your PR strategy effectiveness and incorporating data into a press release. Each strategy can enhance your overall PR efforts by putting real figures behind your work.

The first prong of the strategy involves tracking the metrics and effectiveness of your PR strategy. This is the core of data-driven PR and has long been misunderstood as it was traditionally quite difficult to track the effectiveness of public relations.

Digital + Traditional PR

However, with modern tools, digital markers are now able to track valuable numbers such as views, engagements, click-throughs, and more. By mining the available data, you can see where your media placements perform best, identify the optimal days and times to post press releases for maximum exposure and engagement, and help you to segment the media. Combined, this information will allow you to form a much more effective PR strategy.

Data-driven PR also allows you to incorporate data and statistics into your press releases. You’ll send a stronger message when you have hard facts to backup your thoughts and opinions. This gives your brand messaging more credibility.

As you can see, data-driven PR can be a valuable tool if used correctly. But that’s a big “if.” Let’s take a look at how you can use data to improve your PR strategy.

How to Use Data to Improve Your Public Relations Strategy

When it comes to your public relations efforts, you can utilize data to create a more quantifiable strategy.

With things like social media, it’s easy to get caught up in the number of followers or likes. With a press release, too often we focus on just the number of views, or amount of media pickups. But if you take things a step further and use data for more than just tracking your coverage, you can get in front of these numbers and see them improve on the back end.

By using data, you’ll be able to better plan your content, placement, and improve the timing of your press releases. This will help you to get the most for your money and reach the largest, and best, possible audience.

Understanding News Cycles & Trends

There is data available that you can use to predict news trends and cycles so take advantage if it. What types of stories are being picked up? What length works best? How long will it take for your story to get published? These are a few questions to keep in mind when you are pitching your press release.

Furthermore, how would trends in your industry apply to readers in a given community? Sometimes people outside of your normal niche may be interested in hearing about growing trends elsewhere, and journalists are always looking for “trendy” stories.

Honing in Your Location Targeting

Data also allows you to figure out which stories perform better in different locations, helping you to learn where your target audience lives and what kind of content they are most eager to read. You’ll also be able to learn which media outlets provide you with the most coverage so you can grow those relationships. On the other hand, you may also learn which outlets in your target range aren’t covering you, giving you the opportunity to see how you can build those relationships so they will take notice of you and pick up your stories.

When you are creating a release, you need to consider what areas will find the information to be important. Who needs to read this press release and why? Identify the outlets that distribute to these people and in your given industry (if applicable), and you have outlined your target audience.

Measure Quality, Not Quantity

It might seem like public relations is the last segment of marketing to embrace data. Up until now, you may have only measured the success of your press releases by how many times the story was read, or how many outlets ran the story. And while these numbers are certainly valuable and more eyes on your content is never a bad thing, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

You need to also consider the quality of the outlets running your story, as well as how relevant those reading your release will find the information. If you’re getting published by outlets who cover your specific industry but are getting a lower amount of views, this is actually a much better value than if your story is running in unrelated publications and getting a ton of hits. The real value lies in the quality of the views.  

Not all press releases are created equal, but those that are run at the right times, and published in the appropriate places will bring you the audience you desire. This is all formed through careful, data-driven PR.

The Benefits of Using Data-driven Public Relations

Naturally, there are several benefits to using data-driven public relations.

The first is that you can have more control over your content. This includes using data to strategically locate and time your press release to gain an optimal number of views, engagements, and click-throughs. This will not only give you the largest number of eyes on your release, but also ensure they are within your target audience.

Using data to learn your audience and measure the success of your press releases, as well as including data within the actual releases, will give you the greatest chance of success. When you use hard data and statistics in your press releases, journalists and reporters will pay more attention than if you don’t. Data can often tell the story for you more effectively and lend credibility to any opinions you may be offering.

Including consistent, reliable data helps to create a higher-quality press release and makes your brand seem more legitimate. When journalists start to take you and your brand more seriously, they will likely pick up more of your releases and help you to establish quality long-lasting media relationships. And it all stems from using firm data within your content.

Summary

Now is the time to embrace data within your public relations strategy if you want to perform optimally. Otherwise, you are essentially playing a guessing game, and no marketing manager will be impressed with that plan.

Using data-driven PR is an incredibly powerful tool for your team when it is used effectively. Learn how to understand your data and it will help you identify what your audience wants, what kinds of content journalists and reporters are looking for and ultimately allow you to build valuable relationships with your target media partners.

If you need some help getting your data-driven PR efforts off the ground and running, contact us today!

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