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    1. 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!

    2. Math: PR Style

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      Who remembers sitting in your [insert preferred mathematics class here] thinking, “When in the name of Merlin’s beard am I ever going to use this absurd theorem in real life? This feels like a gigantic waste of time.

      I can honestly say that there were many an afternoon where that exact thought went through my head. Which may explain why I chose a less numerically minded career path.

      But here’s the rub.

      The closer I look at everything we do here at AirPR (and everything PR pros do in general), the more I realize just how intertwined Math is in our day-to-day. From time management to data visualizations that allow audiences to extract meaning from numbers, math is everywhere.

      Why PR should love mathPR measurement guru, Shonali Burke, sums it up nicely: “If you’re managing a client’s budget, you’re doing Math. If you’re using data points to pitch a story, you’re doing Math. If you’re managing a research project which comprises surveys, you’re doing Math. If you’re running your own PR business, you’re absolutely doing Math.” she asserts.

      “And when measuring PR, even if your metrics are primarily output metrics, you’re doing Math. What else would you call counting all those impressions, hits, and followers? I think many [PR] pros think ‘differential calculus’ or other complicated functions when they hear ‘Math’. However, regular Math? Everyone does it without even knowing it, so it’s time to stop being frightened of it!”

      We couldn’t have said it better ourselves, Shonali.

      In order to boost your computational confidence, we tapped a few mathematically minded folks to help uncover 5 hidden ways PR pros are using math.

      1. Probability Theory & Classification

      To see these two principles in action, look at the intrinsic ranking methods used to identify priorities and hierarchies before, during, and after PR campaigns. Not every PR activity gets the same amount of attention or time dedicated to it. By weighting outputs, ranking outlets, and making explicit choices to use some words or messages more than others, you’re totally enacting the underlying principles of Probability Theory and Classification. Go you!

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