No more guessing: big data in PR

Using big data changes a PR strategy into a well-substantiated PR strategy. But how does it work exactly? Our creative strategist and data specialist Sid de Koning explains.

Sid, why would we use data in PR?

Human behaviour is often unpredictable. That is, it’s hard to predict the best approach based on your gut solely. So how do you find the best way to make a story live in the client’s target group? By analysing data you can get better insights in the interests and behaviour of different target audiences. That knowledge helps getting the relevant content to the relevant people at the relevant time.

What kind of data are we talking about?

Literally any type of data could be useful. You name it: the weather at a certain location, purchase data in a certain period, geographical elements, seasonal influences, SEO analyses and so on. A fair share of these data is publicly available. Government websites offer data sets as do the Dutch Central Bureau for Statistics. But you could also get your data from the client’s website analytics, customer care and retargeting data from prior campaigns. There’s more than meets the eye. Combining multiple data sets helps predicting behaviour. That’s information we can use in the campaigns we develop.

What is the main advantage of using data?

Instead of focusing on the target group ‘sporters’, we could target ‘sporters between the ages of 14 and 18 years in West-Friesland’. Using big data analysis we know the exact needs of a specific target group or how the group has changed compared to a prior period. We are then able to come up with a story that’s way more relevant than if it would have been a general story for sporters.

Basically you fulfill everyone’s needs...

Exactly! Compare it to seducing a woman. Your pick up linesfirst words are never the same. It depends on the moment of the day (lunch time or late night), the city (New York or Budapest), the country, the kind of bar you are at and so on. I want to be super relevant to her, so my story will always differ, even if it’s just a little.

What’s the big difference of this new way of working compared to the ‘old days’?

We used to send one press release to all media. Now we send different messages to different media. Because we know who wants to read and know what. A journalist is an extension of their reader. If we know what the reader wants, we know what to put in the press release to convince the journalist.

Does that mean we’ll only approach niche media?

No, that’s not the case. Look at it in another way: all media have become niche media. We look at every paper and know what’s interesting to their readers. Slight differences in approach can make all the difference for being published or not.

In what stage is big data now?

Globally it’s quite developed already, but language barriers in Dutch make the use of data a bigger challenge. Lots of data sets are in English. In English you can already automatically generate press releases. In Dutch that’s not possible yet. Still, huge opportunities for big data in PR lay ahead, even here. By combining data analysis with an analogue personal twist, we’re already starting to see great results. And those will only get better over time!