The renowned statistician and business consultant William Edwards Deming said, “Without data you’re just another person with an opinion”, echoing journalists’ thoughts the world over.
The PR dream for a lot of brands is to achieve coverage in national news outlets, but that doesn’t happen by simply sharing your outlook on a situation or by overtly pushing your brand story. Journalists want facts, hard facts. Facts that provide a unique angle on a story or deliver an interesting article by highlighting trends. This isn’t limited to national news outlets either; the trade media takes a similar stance.
So, while content may be king in some areas of PR, it is data that steals the crown when it comes to media relations. But how can brands access data and use it to command column inches? Thankfully, in numerous ways…
Commissioning bespoke research is a simple way of obtaining ownable data and has the dual benefit of allowing brands to generate PR-worthy statistics at the same time as conducting useful market research.
The key to success when investing in research for PR purposes is to reverse engineer the process: rather than start by thinking about the questions you need to ask, instead start with the headline you want to achieve and then work backwards to devise the questions to elicit the required results.
The media are very discerning about what makes the cut on survey stories, and they aren’t used as abundantly as they once were, but if you get the ingredients right then they will get traction with the media and can be a powerful tactic to raise awareness and drive traffic to your website. Journalists will use surveys that explore a fresh topic or have an interesting take – a survey-based release that states the obvious or reads like a brand bible will leave journalists cold.
Journalists are increasingly leaning into Google Trends to find data to use as editorial hooks. For any person reading this not enlightened about Google Trends, it is a website that can assess how popular a search term is on Google and how the term has trended over time. The beauty of this PR tactic is in its simplicity – if your product sits within a category that is enjoying significant growth or is a new disruptive brand that taps into the zeitgeist, the chances are Google Trends can give you a backbone to a PR story with cold, hard data. You brand can then be used essentially as a case study to bring colour to the data. And best of all, it is a free service and accessible to all.
Many brands purchase market research reports to get an in-depth, qualitative, and quantitative understanding of the sector they operate in. While this market intelligence is invaluable for many reasons, one often overlooked benefit they bring is data that can be used for PR purposes. Packaging a story about the popularity of a product and its category is made considerably stronger with the addition of third-party statistics and insights from respected market research companies such as Mintel. The data helps validate the story and enhance its credibility. Just be sure to always reference where statistics have been obtained from.
While no one likes to air their dirty laundry in public, it can be invaluable to share sales figures and turnover with journalists. While this alone isn’t enough to generate editorial coverage, it can help journalists gauge a brand’s importance in their sector and provides unique data, which is always appealing to a journalist. If you aren’t comfortable overtly sharing financial information, being able to reference the number of products sold and what the percentage year-on-year uplift is, is also PR gold-dust, albeit of more appeal to the trade media rather than consumer facing outlets.
If you would like to discuss how data could be a PR game-changer for your brand, then please drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 020 7240 2444.