Sitting on a PR goldmine: How to use your own data to create news

Angela Spain, Managing Director of public relations consultancy Archer, unveils the secret to creating stories that not only grab attention but also propel businesses towards success and recognition.

Have you ever sat in a marketing or PR meeting, scratching your head trying to come up with a compelling story about your business, product or service? One that would stand out from the crowd and actually get news coverage? Achieve fame, contribute towards business success and glory? 

Or have you thought you had a great story, but no-one would pick it up? With some journalists in New Zealand receiving up to 50 unsolicited pitches a day from marketing teams, business owners and PR agencies, how do you stand out and actually capture the interest of a journalist? 

Well you could be sitting on your companies best kept storytelling secret – data you already own and collect as a part of your everyday business. You may not have considered using that data as a storytelling device, or viewing it through a proactive marketing lens. But you’re likely sitting on a goldmine of information that, if packaged in a cohesive way, will have time-poor journalists in challenging newsroom environments knocking on your door asking for commentary and insight. You will be able to give them something of value to make their job easier and in return achieve some great publicity for your business.  

So how do you get started and what should you be looking for when using a data led PR approach? We’ve put together the “Serendipitous Six” – six hacks which will help you uncover your PR data gold and get your started on the road to fame and fortune: 

1.Use data to create news: Yard, a UK based digital marketing data agency, used this hack to full effect in 2022, with their “Just Plane Wrong” data story,  where they crunched publicly available data on 1,500 private jets and used it to rank celebrities with the highest carbon emissions. They published the data, Rolling Stone (among others) picked up the story, contacted the celebrities named for comment (which they did) and the story exploded. All to promote their business and get their name out there in a creative way. While this is an extreme example, your business can take a similar approach through conducting surveys, analysing internal data, providing sector commentary on publicly available data, or offering insights into customer behaviour or seasonal trends. 

Credit: Kylie Jenner’s instagram.

2. Match your data to the media target: Read the publication or media target before you pitch so you understand what they are looking for and use data that can help them. Are they are local journalist? Can you therefore split your data to show trends in that local area perhaps vs another region? Do they cover a specific sector? Can you give them a breakdown of data affecting companies or consumers in that sector, plus comparisons? This data reporting is seen in the release of grocery price indices, and the localisation of data was used to full effect by Government agencies during the Covid 19 pandemic to show vaccine uptake region by region. 

3. Connect your data to broader trends: Make your story relevant by connecting it to trends or news stories that are already of interest to media and consumers. One example is recruitment company called Manpower, and its Employment Outlook Survey which charts employment trends and turns the results into news and commentary on the economy, or The Real Estate Institute house price index, tapping into the Kiwi obsession with the housing market, which continues to make it newsworthy.

Credit: Manpower.

4. News jack the current news agenda: Use your own data or insights to support or debunk the story,  providing useful commentary or fresh insight for the journalist and a more lateral view on a topic that is also aligned to your business. Don’t agree with the various sector indices or reports? Comment using your own data or findings to offer a balanced view or different side to the story. 

5. Support your data story with visualisations. A graph is a great visual shortcut, especially one that the media can use, so don’t be over zealous and slap your brand all over it. Include bullet point research statistics with links to more in-depth analysis if you have it; offer your spokesperson for an interview to explain the data and provide quotes. Support the journalist through the process to build your credibility and a mutually beneficial relationship. Data visualisation was used extensively throughout  the recent weather bombs

6. Finally track data to measure the effectiveness of your own data led PR approach to tweak your strategy if needed in the future. Track story conversion, monitor media mentions and articles,  but also use other analytics to prove efficacy such as web traffic, social media engagement, comments on the articles on news sites. Use this data to work out what resonated with the audience, what you could do more of from a data PR perspective, but also use it to potentially inform product development.

Credit: Dragonfly Data Science.

If you start to follow these tips, it will unlock the wider potential of your existing data to create a compelling narrative about your business, build a mutually beneficial relationship with the media and directly impact brand awareness and business success. 

Your best story is likely right under your nose. Serendipitous indeed. 

About Author

Angela Spain is Managing Director of Archer, a public relations consultancy. 

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