There’s a module going on. You see stacks of data in front of you, carefully aligned in rows and columns, and just looking at it, you already feel tired. The next moment, you see the module switching over to word and presentation, and you heave a sigh of relief. Well, I know this exact feeling, and believe me, most of us have been there. We are so used to working as wordsmiths, swiftly moving from one document to another, from designing one presentation to finalizing creative direction for another visual asset, jumping off from one meeting to the next, that we have forgotten to take time out for data and excel sheets, and plan a step forward.
We are in the 21st century where data and technology are shaping the world around us. The algorithms are taking over humans, re-structuring their thoughts and opinions, and defining their behavioral patterns and perceptions. It is in 2006 that the British mathematician and Tesco marketing mastermind Clive Humby shouted from the rooftops, “Data is the new oil” and the rest is history.
Today, we are witnessing every domain and sector harnessing the power of data and algorithms to make an impact on the world around us. As professionals specializing in brand communications, we are tasked with taking this impact story out to the end customers and relevant stakeholders. To do so in the most profound manner, it’s time that we make data our strongest ally and cultivate intelligence to convert data into significant press outcomes.
Data is nothing but recorded facts and figures and until it stays cloaked in the excel sheets, it is going to make not much difference. Applying data-driven decision-making in our day-to-day operations is what could come off as a great help.
In one of the surveys, 2/3rd of business leaders confirmed that they maintain data every day, but 78% reported challenges in using that data. This points to the lacuna that while data is being maintained, it is not being utilized to the best of its potential.
There's a reason why communications are regarded both as a discipline of science as well as art. Besides purpose-led articulation, brand communications also involve logical reasoning, critical analysis, and careful usage of data, facts, and figures and we cannot overlook this aspect.
- There’s more to data than counting the number of impressions; untapped opportunities are hidden in the data
Most often than not, PR & Communications efforts are measured against the number of impressions garnered on a particular news story. However, with the changing times, this narrow approach needs to change. While counting the number of impressions is important, it is more important to look at other relevant aspects associated with the news story- sentiment generated, success in the brand’s keyword and message delivery, overall reach, and amplification. It’s time to broaden the parameters to ascertain the success of a particular PR effort or a campaign.
However, at the planning stage, one needs to work backward with previous data and reports to figure out what sentiment one wants to generate, what brand messages need to be delivered, how expansive the scope and amplification could or should be, on a specific media effort or endeavor and so on. An eye for detail is what needs to be developed while analyzing data, specifically when it comes to industry and competitor scanning.
In doing so, you may find new channels for communicating your brand's story, a new network to get your brand featured in top-notch publications, new ideas, and new formats that your brand is yet to explore. In the pursuit of our day-to-day goals, we often get so concentrated on our efforts that we forget to derive learnings from the world around us. However, if we want to formulate a futuristic and objective-oriented strategy, it's necessary that we re-visit our press outcomes generated over the past year along with the ones achieved by our fellow brands and competitors.
- Conduct frequent brand audits and update your goals
A lot of times, audit and performance reports are considered at the end of the fiscal year to measure results, both quantitative and qualitative. However, in a world largely dominated by data-driven decisions, we shall try to optimize these reports to their fullest.
Brand custodians should begin monthly or quarterly analysis of the brand’s monitoring reports. This analysis should not remain restricted but should openly be brought up, close and front in discussion with teams, internal stakeholders, business heads, so that the conversations could translate into meaningful results in communications for the brand. In doing so, continue to update press goals and strategy in tandem with what’s working or not working for your respective brand, and you will realize the value addition that you are making to the brand’s reputation and engagement.
For instance- say, you are a brand ‘X’ and you are noticing that your ‘Y’ business is getting more press interest than the ‘Z’ business, it’s time that you focus on two things- identifying more stories for the ‘Y’ business as it is likely to get press interest but at the same time, developing newer ways to get interest on the ‘Z’ business. By doing this, you will be able to set out realistic and achievable goals on a month-on-month basis. Similarly, say data indicates that your message delivery has been on point, but amplification has been on the low. It’s time that you alter your press strategy and focus more on amplification than message framework model. When you do this on a regular basis, you will realise data has become your ultimate guide and it is benefitting both you as well as the brand.
Nakul Ghai, is a PR & Marketing communications specialist