Data-driven public relations – Using Numbers, Surveys, Stats to Secure Media Coverage

Unless you’re a company that is on a constant development cycle and releasing new software features every week, signing new customers every day, etc., ultimately the questions come up, “What now?” “Where do we go from here with PR?”

In the absence of “news,” many companies go radio silent, but silence can be deadly. If your company isn’t generating consistent media coverage, it’s inevitable in today’s 24-7 news cycle that your current clients and potential clients will soon ask, “What’s going on with company X? I never see them mentioned anywhere.”

But what do you do if your company doesn’t have any hard news to announce? Do you scrape the bottom of the barrel and issue a press release touting existing features that have already been announced? One sure way to alienate reporters is to send them non-news. Eventually, reporter will see your number on their voicemail or your name in their email, and they’ll say, “Who cares.”

Yet, in the absence of news, why not make your company a “resource” for reporters? Most smart companies watch their vertical and marketplace like a hawk. They try to stay up-to-date on what their customers and potential customers needs are – either anecdotally or through original research.

Why not take the extra step, tap into the research and knowledge that exists in your company, and package that data for reporters. By initiating a data-driven PR strategy, you become a go-to resource for reporters.

What does data-driven PR look like exactly?

I once worked with a company that had developed proprietary technology to track streaming radio content across the web and determine how many people were listening. Nielsen, the traditional media measurement service, had not yet developed a comparable technology or rating service. The PR team I was working with recommended that our client package their streaming tracking data akin to Nielsen’s traditional tracking of terrestrial radio stations. Each week, the company released a Top 10 Internet Radio Streams ranked by listenership and popularity.

Once we convinced the company to develop this branded weekly data, we built a comprehensive list of media reporters – especially reporters who covered the radio industry. And, we began sending the branded weekly Top 10 data to a wide list of reporters.

Not surprisingly, initially the reporters were skeptical. They’d never heard of the company or their technology. We answered questions, and sure some reporters said they weren’t interested at all and we stopped pitching them. At the outset, media coverage was slow. But we continued our strategy and sent the data every week.

The campaign worked. First, one publication published the Top 10 Internet Radio streams list, then a second publication, then a third, and so on. Then, after publishing the list for several months, one week we missed our regular release date for the data by several days, and we received multiple emails and phone calls asking where the data was.

In today’s never-ending media cycle, the media beast has to be fed. Reporters are looking for information. Reporters usually aren’t interested in rewriting a press release or publishing a story about the latest small feature upgrade. If you can provide a reporter with accurate, informative data related to your specific industry or vertical, many reporters will be interested.

However, I should mention, whenever possible stay as neutral as possible. Most companies aren’t going to issue data that directly contradicts their business model. But you shouldn’t pull together industry data and issue a press release or a report that says in effect, “According to our recent data, we have the solution to all your problems.” Take a neutral path, strive to be a resource for reporters by providing insightful data about your industry and vertical, and data-driven PR can lead to consistent media coverage for your company to augment your company and product PR efforts.