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  • Tag Archive: big data for PR

    1. How to Drive PR Decisions with Data

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      I recently participated in the CommPRO.biz webinar “Your Path to Media Measurement.” My co-panelists Deirdre Breakenridge of Pure Performance Communications and Todd Murphy of Universal Information Services shared examples of practical PR measurement for bottom-line results including the types of data PR and communications professionals should be focusing on when creating their strategies.

      During the chat, I focused on how to create, implement, and measure data-driven PR campaigns. Because, like it or not, we often mistakenly find ourselves defining strategies based on our assumptions long before we see the numbers that should be informing them.

      So, let’s break it down…

      You’ve been asked to show how your strategies and tactics led to, or will lead to, increased value for your customers, potential customers, shareholders, and organization. To do so, you’ll need to follow a framework that will help your team and stakeholders understand your work.

      This post will cover that framework, which includes:

      • Audience
      • Goals and Objectives
      • Strategy
      • Tactics
      • Tags and Implementation
      • Measurement (KPIs and Metrics)
      • Optimization
      • Reports and Dashboards


      Begin by compiling a short list of customers and prospective customers. Identify your target audience by writing a list of characteristics (demographics, location, industry, etc.), and then use free audience estimation tools such as Facebook and Twitter to estimate audience size.

      Business Goals and Objectives

      Make a list of your goals and objectives for various audiences. For example, your goals or objectives for existing customers may revolve around usage, retention, and renewals. For new customers, you may look at awareness, engagement, and new user signups.

      Strategy Time

      Here’s where the pieces start to come together. Say your research team has identified several thousand potential customers on Facebook that share several key characteristics with your existing customers. To reach these potential customers, you must develop strategies and tactics to effectively reach these customers on Facebook. Since social networks allow your ads to be viewed, engaged with, and shared, focus on offering content that resonates with your target audience.

      What types of content have appealed to existing customers in the past?

      How can you emulate that success with potential customers?

      What is likely to garner engagement based on past data?

      Consider the following framework as a guide for building your own strategy:


      Tactics should be granular, actionable stepping stones that contribute to the greater goal and objectives. An example tactic is creating an ad targeting your identified audience that leads to a downloadable case study about a customer who has seen success with your help, what worked, and why that’s the case based on the data.

      Tags and Implementation

      Technology now allows for feature-rich, customized reporting dashboards with actionable insights, competitive analysis, and metrics valued by the C-Suite.

      Before you launch a campaign, verify that you have correctly implemented the tracking codes that you’ll need to accurately provide attribution for your campaigns. For Facebook, verify that your Facebook Pixel has been implanted and your desired goals, such as a new user sign up, have been identified. Look to Facebook’s Pixel Implementation Guide for more on this.

      Measurement (KPIs and Metrics)

      Save time and resources by validating the potential for campaign success by setting proper expectations through projections and forecasts. For instance, if your budget is $10,000 for a Facebook ad campaign and the estimated cost per click (CPC) for your target audience is $1, then you can estimate around 10,000 clicks.

      If your site’s average conversion rate for Facebook, or even new visitors from social media is 1%, then you’re looking at 100 signups at a cost per acquisition of $100. If you’re an online retailer and your labor, product, and advertising costs exceed that $100 mark, you can start to see how you can adjust your forecasts and projections to validate the success of your campaigns.


      Marketing and sales are activity-based professions (the more you put into them, the more you’ll get out of them). The question is, how do you prioritize the “it” to get the most out of your advertising dollars, time, and effort.

      This is where our optimization cycles come in:

      Audience → Campaign Objectives → Strategies and Tactics → Implementation → Measurement → Insights → Repeat

      Reports and Dashboards

      Dashboards are a conglomeration of various reports and data (metrics) that you choose to showcase. If your C-suite is interested in revenue, you’ll need to connect organizational revenue with your marketing efforts. The good news is customer relationship management (CRM) software such as Salesforce, enable you to input your own business data (closed opportunities) and connect it to 3rd party applications, including your various marketing activities.


      There is an abundance of data available for PR practitioners to 1) validate their efforts, 2) support sales and marketing, and 3) discover new business opportunities. By focusing on top and middle funnel activities — Who is your brand’s target audience, are they aware of your services, and how are they currently interacting with your brand? — PR pros can offer a new perspective on their existing business data.

      It starts with taking a look at data, understanding the various metrics and characteristics, and connecting those insights with campaign activities. To download my full presentation from the CommPRO.biz webinar, check it out on SlideShare.

    2. Is PR data bias holding you back?

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      When it comes to marketing analysis, public relations has been known for output — media relationships developed, placements gained, awareness garnered, and perceptions changed. In-depth analysis and measurement of PR outcomes is a fairly new practice. Thus, standards around this measurement are still in development.

      Often, when a PR professional views data that shows the results of their work, and that data does not show what they expected, many do not accept that data as true. This is due to an unconscious data bias.

      But even if what you see or learn is surprising, having data about public relations efforts is always valuable. The following are examples of potential reactions to PR data, plus what they mean for you.

      PR Data Bias Reaction: “This doesn’t make me look good.”

      After reviewing data about the results of PR efforts, many are surprised by comparisons such as share of voice. No matter the reason for this surprise, the fact that you may feel this way means that the information is novel and you are learning something new from the data. When you feel surprised or impressed, the data that caused that reaction is worth investigating further and analyzing.

      PR Data Bias Reaction: “The largest effort is not showing the strongest results.”

      It’s very exciting when you see the magnitude of website traffic resulting from your PR efforts! But in analyzing this data, you may find that smaller publications or placements that were garnered in a shorter timeline happen to drive more traffic than more arduous content. Again, this is a key lesson. It is likely that you may find that a fraction of your outputs drive the majority of your outcomes. That’s okay. Use that knowledge to better align and direct future output.

      PR Data Bias Reaction: “This data doesn’t help prove anything.”

      Before you begin data review and analysis, define a focus. This seems easy to remember, but it is hard not to get sidetracked when there are 4,625,397 data points, and you’re seeing spikes and dips in eye-catching data visualizations. After focusing on what is most important, let the data be your proof! Allow the facts to dictate your insights, instead of drawing facts based on your suspicions.

      It definitely takes more than just numbers to see the whole picture. Using the vast data available to public relations teams can unearth lessons for future strategy development and provide data that may be used to create a cyclical process of analysis.

      A version of this post originally appeared on Bulldog Reporter.
    3. How to Use Data to Ensure Content Success

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      Earlier this year, I was a guest on the #DigitalPR Twitter chat in a conversation focused on the use of Big Data by public relations professionals for content success. The first question chat host Sally Falkow asked was whether or not the participants believe Big Data is the future of PR.

      Being a PR Engineer, I strongly believe that thoughtful use of data is indeed the future of PR. But in order to avoid data intimidation and data fatigue, PR pros must know how to best leverage this information. Knowledge of how to collect, analyze, and interpret data allows for the identification of key performance indicators based on past successes and failures, rather than subjective suggestions for how to determine success.

      So how do you begin using data to ensure content success and make sure you’re working toward the outcomes you want? Here, I share three tips inspired by Nate Silver.

      1. Make sure you’re identifying the correct signals.

      Many marketers measure results against the KPIs they and their colleagues are used to — such as impressions — and not necessarily against the metrics that truly show successful performance. We get it. Changing your measurement and reporting structures is scary. But making sure you’re tracking the right signals is basically the difference between doing what’s asked of you and doing what works.

      AirPR Data Shows: You are likely missing between 75 to 80 percent of the data that shows the result of PR efforts in terms of how potential customers engage on your website after reading press. How? Often articles do not link back to any of your web properties, and if they do, people will still visit your site via search or typing your domain into the address bar half of the time.

      2. Separate the signals from the noise.

      Once you are measuring the right data, review the results on an ongoing basis, not just at the end of the month or quarter. Adam Singer advises, “…think critically about your measurement plan and remember to consider success for clients, campaigns, and programs up front. And then don’t just measure, have goals and predictions before you begin.” Set benchmarks so that you have a barometer by which to gauge success during ongoing review.

      AirPR Data Shows: After working with our customers to identify benchmarks, we consistently see that about 10 to 20 percent of their PR output is responsible for 80 to 90 percent of their business outcomes. The 10 to 20 percent are the signals to look and listen for.

      3. Follow the signals to success.

      After proving or disproving your predictions of what’s really driving  the results you’re seeking, use those performance indicators to inform your strategies and tactics. Too often we inhibit this process from becoming circular by failing to make the final connection that closes the loop. Don’t just separate out the signals so that you can see them clearly, use them as a guide for the evolution of your efforts and embrace the way PR has evolved in recent years so you’re focusing on “…the speedy distribution of content and driving leads to digital real estate.”

      AirPR Data Shows: When reviewing a visualization of a subset of our own content marketing strategy, we realized how powerful a connected web of influence can be. Aim for ubiquity in your niche market.

      To ensure content success, answer this question posed by Seth Godin on his widely-read blog: “What does it mean to ‘win’? Is maximizing the convenient number actually going to produce the impact and the outcome you wanted?”

      Use Data to Ensure Content Success

      Last week, Director of PR Engineering & Ops Leta Soza kicked off our Optimizing PR Fundamentals series with tips for writing press releases that don’t get deleted. Next week, PR Engineer Rachel Kirschen will share how to write emails that your customers will (actually) give a crap about.

    4. PART 2: Big Data 101 for PR

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      We know, we know…sequels so rarely live up to the hype of originals, but I can assure you this part duex is guaranteed to deliver as much punch and pizzazz as what came before.

      A few weeks ago my colleague and engineering partner-in-crime, Frank Jing, knocked it out of the park with his succinct and astute overview of Big Data and its role in PR (Part 1). 

      Not only did he touch on what Big Data is and why PR peeps should care about it, he also provided insights into how to think about this phenomenon and three reasons to embrace Big Data now.

      Whadda guy!

      As someone who lives and breathes Big Data on a daily basis (no seriously, I’m currently surrounded), I want to take one step further and provide some actionable ways you can harness the power of Big Data.

      Once you are fixed on the Big Data idea and nailed all the basics, it’s time to identify the challenges or problems you wish to solve and how best to solve them.

      Here are 7 of my suggestions:

      1. List all your current frustrations plaguing your work. There’s a good chance Big Data can solve quite a few!big-data-101-for-PR

      2. Get familiar with the most common terminologies of Big Data. Look up things like predictive modeling, natural language processing, data mining, databases, etc. Treat these words like medical jargons. You don’t have to know them inside and out, but it’s better to know *of* them when your doctor err…engineer…starts using them.

      3. Make it a point to regularly talk with your tech people, but be patient. The language barrier may be high at first, and the same word can (and often does) mean different things in different circumstances, but good data people will be able to translate. Use their expertise to your advantage!

      4. Decide if your Big Data strategy will be DIY or if outside help is required. Big Data means big decisions. The expenses of buying equipment, managing databases, integrating with existing systems, and doing automated analysis can be significant up front. Luckily, there are more and more companies providing customized solutions for Big Data, but it’s worth considering if you have the resources in house to get you up and running in the interim.

      5. Start collecting data NOW! This is an “act first, ask questions later” kind of mindset. Yes, yes, it is crucial to develop a robust strategy for collecting, structuring, and storing data. But big data is an iterative process that begins with collecting data. It’ll be much easier to refine your collection and storage strategy as you go. Besides, storage is cheap and you can always discard what you don’t need.

      6. Figure out what your data is telling you. Obviously, having the data is only half the story. Deriving insights and weaving those into your storytelling is also paramount. I suggest sitting with a data-minded individual and talking through your hypotheses. Starting with postulations can often be the easiest jumping off point to affirm or debunk your subjective hunches.

      7. Keep up with what’s happening in the advancement of technology. The tides change fast, so be sure you know how to surf ‘em. Pick 1-2 tech focused publications and make it a point to do a monthly or bi-weekly deep dive into their coverage so you stay in the know.

      Perhaps most importantly, believe in the power of data-driven decisions. It won’t replace experience and it’s no substitute for human capital or emotional intelligence, but like a great sequel, it can deliver unique insights and give you a fresh new perspective.

      Here’s to the power of Big Data!