We live in an information age and information, especially numbers, fuels the news.
It could be the latest unemployment report, current political approval ratings, or today's high and low temperatures. All these pieces of data regularly feed the great river of news that, like the Mississippi, just keeps rolling along.
That's why it's so crucial for an organization to offer a regular, reliable, and trustworthy piece of data that can feed this river of news - and eventually become a major source for it.
For example, take the National Delinquency Survey from the Mortgage Bankers Association. Created in 1953, it is based on a study of more than 44 million mortgage loans - nearly 90% of all outstanding loans - and provides delinquency and foreclosure statistics at the national, regional, and state levels.
This survey has become the most recognized source for residential mortgage delinquency and foreclosure rates, long before these terms turned into front-page news.
This recognition has been earned over time (in this case, 57 years) because the survey's reliability compounds into a lasting record of solid information and data - and a brand trusted by reporters and financial analysts.
The survey is also trusted among key policymakers as results are presented personally to top officials on Capitol Hill, the White House, and the Treasury Department. Because of the data's credibility and accuracy, officials know they can rely on it when creating policies than can affect us all.
A strong report offers accurate, reliable data, rain or shine, good news or bad. It has no spin, angle, or agenda - just as there is no way to argue that today's high temperature is 57 degrees. Either it is or it isn't.
How and why it is 57 degrees on a particular day might be subject to a bit of scientific debate, but as the late New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D) once commented, "Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts."
Facts - plain, simple, undeniable facts - from a solid report can help an organization stand out in a media environment where facts and opinions are becoming increasingly blended. They also allow organizations to help shape a more informed, reasoned public dialogue, which is in the best interest of everyone.
Barbara Van Allen is SVP of communications and marketing at the Mortgage Bankers Association.