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data-driven PR & marketing, data analytics tips for PR & marketingData can guide and improve marketing and PR decisions on audience acquisition, media outreach, messaging and other communications strategies.

Data can reveal your organization’s most effective content — and the chances are that it’s only a fraction of overall content. Just five percent of branded content accounts for 90 percent of engagement, according to research by Beckon.

Data can also help PR win earned media mentions. Due to the rise in data journalism, reporters and editors often prefer article submissions supported by data. Because gathering facts and figures is time-consuming, journalists often write stories based on data PR pros provide them.

“More and more businesses expect marketing and communications teams to make decisions and gather insights by analyzing the data they collect from marketing programs and initiatives, such as direct marketing, social media, public relations and events,” asserts Caroline Japick, chief marketing officer at Pramata, in a Forbes article. “The days of marketing “artists” are gone.”

First Step to Building a Data-Driven Team

Identify objectives and metrics. The first step to building a data-driven content team is to identify business objectives your content will support and the metrics that will prove the success – or failure — of your efforts to attain those objectives.

“Your content team and your content strategy should hold both business objectives and metrics above all else — including creativity. Because creativity without business results equals failure,” asserts Brandon Anderson, chief strategist at Ceralytics, in a Convince & Convert post.

Identify data sources. Like journalists, corporate communications and marketing can tap public databases. Data that targets a specific industry or geographic region, such as economic indicators, provides a local slant or a viewpoint on a niche business sector. But don’t ignore internal data. You might need to contact other company departments, including finance, customer support, and sales support.

Obtain support from key personnel. C-suite buy-in is especially crucial. Personnel in other departments might not immediately understand how the information they handle can benefit others. To win their cooperation, Andersen recommends:

  • Share the business objectives that drive your content marketing strategy.
  • Show how their work and data will play a role in supporting those objectives.
  • Help them others identify metrics that report outcomes rather than outputs – in other words results not tasks completed.

Find the right personnel. Ideally, the organization can hire at least one staff member with analytical proficiency to go along with strong communications skills, and, ideally, technological savvy. Most organizations must work with their current staff. In that case, assign analytics ownership to someone currently within your organization – and make sure they have the skills, adequate support, and coverage to be successful, recommends John Miller, vice president and co-founder of Marketo. Offer to reimburse them if they take a course in statistics or otherwise try to improve their analytic and/or math skills.

Schedule quality time. Communications teams may be too busy to study their data. Allocate definite time periods to review the data, reflect on their meaning, and how you can improve marketing and PR practices in response to data insights.

Analyze Selectively. Track all data but pay attention to the data that matters most to your business, Japick says. Not all businesses should pay attention to the same data. Likewise, report only meaningful data. Many communications teams report practically everything, and end up confusing themselves and executives who may only care about increased sales or ROI.

Heed the data. Not listening to the data is one of the most common mistakes, experts say. Many people interpret the information based on prior experiences or biases and don’t test assumptions or try to improve results. Some organizations ignore what their data tells them and follow the HIPPO strategy, deferring to the Highest Paid Person’s Opinion.

Use the best tools. Marketing automation, customer relationship management, competitive intelligence and social media analytics tools are instrumental in collecting and analyzing data. Such tools can organize the vast amount of data and present it in a way that’s understandable.

Bottom Line: Most marketing and PR leaders realize that data can provide big benefits to their organizations. However, finding insights that can guide business decisions can be challenging. The key is to create a culture of analytics that encourages personnel to respect data and allow findings to drive decision making.

William J. Comcowich founded and served as CEO of CyberAlert LLC, the predecessor of Glean.info. He is currently serving as Interim CEO and member of the Board of Directors. Glean.info provides customized media monitoring, measurement and analytics solutions across all types of traditional and social media.