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How to Create Data-Driven PR Stories

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When you read the news, its easy to spot data-driven stories: ”petrol prices rise for the fourth month in a row”, “UK Consumer confidence jumps to 8 month high” and “one in four deaths in the UK is caused by heart disease” are just a few examples of headlines.

As I said in a previous blog, consumer surveys have limitations when it comes to PR, and finding data elsewhere can be more impactful. So, where do you get data? Here are eight internal and external data sources that make a good starting point for data-driven PR.

Internal data

  1. The data expert: Large organisations will often have an ‘insight’ manager, who’ll have their finger on the pulse of all sorts of internal and industry data, from customer profiles to trends and more. Find them and work closely together to generate insights you can use for PR. If there’s a reluctance to share data externally, then see if you can use percentages rather than specific numbers – it can be a good compromise.
  2. Sales/ pipeline: looking at actual sales figures of products or services, or trends in enquiries for products or services can create a story, especially if it can be linked to a news event or economic circumstance. Perhaps sales peak in a certain month or trends show a move from one product or service to another. Perhaps a celebrity endorsement of a product or service linked to your brand has had an impact on your business? Or are there Brexit related trends, for example?
  3. Customers: Some organisations regularly communicate with customers and can ask them to provide feedback which could be used as a story – it’s worth asking if you can input questions of your own, or at least review what’s received as feedback.
  4. Staff: Employees can be a great source of internal data, especially those who manage specific products. Ask them about performance and trends. They might have something newsworthy that they’ve not proactively shared with the communications department before.

External data

  • Industry data: Start by looking at data relating to your industry. Is there a regular report you can offer a fresh perspective on? Does your internal data support or contest the view the external data projects?
  • Government data: ONS, Census… there’s a wealth of publicly available information. Investigate what’s available in your industry. Is there a way you can compare or analyse it that means you’re offering your target media something new?
  • FOI: if you can’t find the data you want available publicly, is it something that could be obtained through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request? Putting in a new request or reviewing data that others have asked for through an FOI (which is very often available online) might help you find a niche. But, remember that new FOI data requires a minimum of 20 working days lead time, but can often take longer.
  • Desk/physical research: can you create your own dataset through researching products and services online to create a new set of figures for analysis and comment? Remember to note your source if you do this. You might need to refer back to it as journalists will need evidence of what you found and where.

Any data-driven PR story needs to be interesting, accurate and new: regurgitating existing data with a comment from your company is unlikely to cut it with the media. Read more about successes BrandContent have had with data-driven PR campaigns here.

Need more support? Drop me a line, we can chat over coffee.

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Zoe Paines

Hi, I’m Zoe, Senior Account Manager on the PR side at Brand Content. I’ve spent 15 years in communications having worked in-house for PR departments including Nationwide, Confused.com, Friends Life and Aviva (a bit of a financial services geek I suppose). From broadcast PR on house prices, consumer coverage for pensions, crisis communications and managing changes of listed company brand name I’ve covered most products and services in financial services. Having spent a year in the accountancy team at WHSmith as part of my degree I’m (perhaps unusually for a PR) a lover of spreadsheets and numbers so happy to hunt out the news behind the numbers. Outside of work I’m a mummy of two and I love to run (when I have time). My husband is a personal trainer and runs a gym so life is fun-filled but hectic. A glass of wine and a movie at the end of the week helps me relax but for a real recharge of batteries there’s nothing I like better than a family beach holiday somewhere hot and sunny!

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