The art of Storytelling via data

Andrew Stanton, who is best known for his work in movies like Toy Story and Finding Nemo, couple of years back gave a very compelling TED talk, “The Clues to a Great Story” . In this TED talk he explains how stories help us to understand who we really are. Nothing is a greater assertion of how we understand ourselves when we connect it with stories.

Watching his talk, I was surprised to notice the similarities between his work and the work we do as PR professionals. Successful communications professionals are natural storytellers who can use interesting hooks to capture the attention of their audience.

A snapshot of Andrew Stanton, TED Talk. Watch the video here

Although storytelling is not something new for PR professionals, today’s digital age offers new opportunities for brands to connect with its audience through most creative routes and high reach mediums. While storytelling can be achieved through various mediums, I would like to draw attention to one of the key tools that we as communication professionals can use to craft a compelling story- Data Storytelling.

Data visualization expert and author of ‘Now You See It’, Stephen Few, rightly puts in his words, “Numbers have an important story to tell. They rely on you to give them a clear and convincing voice.” The phrase ‘data storytelling’ has been associated with many things—infographics, charts, presentations and so on. However, it is beyond just producing visually engaging data charts. Data storytelling is a structured approach for communicating data insights, and it involves a combination of three key elements: datavisuals, and narrative.  When the right narrative, data & visuals all comes together, you have a data backed story which can influence and drive a change.

For instance, at OLX we use data in form of research, insights and consumer trends to narrate stories which highlights the potential of unused goods stocked by Indian household. Every year we release OLX CRUST (Consumer Research on Used-Goods and Selling Trends), an annual survey which estimates the size of the unused goods market in India and examines key attitudes towards unused goods. While conceiving the first CRUST Survey in 2013-14, OLX coined the term ‘Brown Money’ to represent the value locked in unused goods gathering dust in homes.  According to the third edition of the survey conducted by IMRB (Indian Market Research Bureau) across 16 cities, Indians stock a massive INR 78,300 Crores equivalent of Brown Money. CRUST was the first ever study released in India to evaluate the market potential of unused goods. Over the years, the CRUST research has helped the industry develop a comprehensive understanding of the unused goods market in India, key trends, consumer behaviour, and the future outlook of the industry.

I would like to conclude saying that in the coming year, for PR professionals it will be imperative to learn the skill of breaking down numbers into meaningful analytics to create a compelling narrative. Relevant training will be a mandate for brands and agencies to equip their talent with the right skillsets. Today, most organisations realise that to become a successful, data-driven brand they need smart marketing teams which can play with the power of data. Yes, data is powerful for marketers. But a good story on the top of it, makes it unforgettable.

 Nikunj Kewalramani is a  PR Professional with OLX India

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