In the field of public relations, words are king. They always have been and always will be. Words are the lifeblood of public relations specialists, pumping vitality into their stories and organizational causes. However, only being “a words person” is no longer enough to excel in modern public relations. Big data and analytics are now predominant tools utilized within many industries—public relations is no exception. The practice of leveraging numerical data is ushering in a new way of conducting business on the PR stage. This evolution toward data-driven decision-making should inspire excitement rather than fear among public relations professionals, providing benefits to both PR professionals and clients alike.
Why Analytics Are Necessary For Conducting Business
For the public relations industry, data offers a chance to support the business benefits of conducting good public relations. The power that this can provide is in demonstrating the PR functional worth to C-level executives and a targeted clientele. For example, PR specialists bring clients added value by providing data that measures the number of impressions sparked by a specific campaign.
From the client perspective, numerical data can measure the return on investment (ROI) of public relations spending. This incentivizes and promotes the role of public relations as an indispensable business function within the larger organization.
Despite the benefits, data and analytics continue to feel foreign for many PR professionals. Many novice public relations professionals are quick to identify themselves as “words people.” More seasoned public relations specialists understand that this label is a limitation in the data-driven world of modern communications.
According to Alastair Turner, managing director of Aspectus PR, the ability to perform research is the second most important skill in prospective PR hires. After excellent writing skills, being able to collect and interpret data in a meaningful way is the most vital key for success in the field.
If you identify as a “words person” and the world of data seems daunting, don’t worry! The following five easy tactics can introduce data and analytics into your daily PR routine. Doing so will brand yourself as a PR professional who is facing the age of analytics head-on by turning data into meaningful stories.
1. Begin to incorporate striking data and statistics into your graphics.
Today’s consumers are bombarded with more messages, ads, texts and emails than they can use. Break through the clutter and capitalize on the “shock factor” of statistics. A startling fact included on an infographic or poster will draw your target audience in—and once they’re hooked, using more data to back your claims can build credibility.
2. Learn the basic lexicon of Google Analytics.
By its most basic definition, Google Analytics is a free service offered by Google that tracks website traffic. It's an invaluable tool that every PR professional should be familiar with. Learning and understanding the basic language of Google Analytics enables you to communicate with your digital marketing partners and allows you to turn their data into meaningful stories. Learning the significance of terms such as page clicks and bounce rates will allow you to create campaigns with the goal of measurement in mind. To take it a step further, become certified in Google Analytics with their online course offerings. This distinction endorses you as trained to execute your own independent investigations with Google Analytics.
3. Measure the volume of social media conversations numerically.
Leverage data to discover what catalyzes the loudest conversations about your client on social media. By tracking the daily conversation volume (based on the number of mentions your client receives on a given day) you can identify what drives peak conversation days and harness that information to replicate successes.
4. Track campaign impressions to show reach.
With social media campaigns, the goal is to often raise awareness among targeted publics. Before the accessibility of big data, measuring the reach of a campaign required grueling hours of counting impressions and engagements by hand. Today, PR professionals have software like Hootsuite that they can use to do the tedious work for them. Be sure to track your own campaign reach with the data that is available today as it will allow you to track the growth of your message’s influence.
5. Don’t be afraid to use data to show your client their ROI.
Finally, don’t shy away from using your refined research abilities to remind your client how valuable your amazing writing skills are. By tracking metrics such as impressions, engagements and sales, you can help your client calculate their ROI from your services. Expressing your worth in the client’s number-based business language is key.
Invest in yourself by spending the time to adopt these suggestions. In turn, your organization will invest in you—and when it comes to getting a well-deserved pay raise, we all love numbers.