Increasingly, communications strategies and campaigns are being informed and measured by sophisticated data techniques. For many communications professionals, it is a new vocabulary. Working with data-filled spreadsheets can be a major turnoff – in particular for creatives who would rather be writing copy than running statistics.
That said, creativity in communications remains as important as ever. Storytelling will always be at the foundation of public relations. And data and analytics can supercharge our work.
Here are a few reasons why that synergy is so powerful.
Numbers can tell a story. A common misconception about utilizing data in communications is that research and creative storytelling are inconsonant. Yet data would be nearly valueless without a means of application. Utilizing data-driven research can help us more fully understand stakeholder groups and enable hyper-targeted storytelling.
Reporting data requires strong storytelling skills. Although interpreting data might not be glamorous, it is more valuable than ever. Mastering the ability to structure narratives using data, in an audience’s terms, should now be integral to our work. For example, it can help an agency provide clients with new interpretations of their industries or consumer trends and how clients’ products or services can leverage such trends.
Data is powerful in content creation, but can be equally powerful in building consensus around business objectives, providing insights on how to achieve them, and offering clear guidance for measuring them.
Data is multi-functional. Good data is priceless because it is dynamic and reusable. Data can provide the foundation for credible and persuasive content that drives desired consumer behaviors. Tactically, data can and should be a primary ingredient in media materials; video content; and visuals such as infographics, presentations, websites, collateral, etc.
Analytics keep content creation current and relevant. Predictive analytics help communicators effectively gauge future developments – from the evolution of trends on social platforms to the trajectory of conversations on those platforms – by examining data models compiled from related past scenarios. This allows content creators to get ahead of conversations and to predict how they might evolve over time. Utilizing data models in this way can be especially effective for developing media strategies for managing crisis scenarios.
Though the vocabulary of the profession has evolved dramatically, our fundamental practice of finding creative solutions to communication problems has not. And because advances in data and analytics have catalyzed the potential for more focused and insightful work, this is as good a time as ever to be content creators.
The future of public relations lies in powerful content that is more informed, relevant, and resonant than ever before.
Alex Siracusa received his Bachelor of Science from Boston University’s College of Communication in May of this year. In the fall, he will continue his studies there and pursue a Master of Science in communication research. Along with working in Boston University’s student-run agency, PRLab, Alex has been a communications and marketing intern at startups abroad.
Click here for the June 5 column, penned by Dr. Arunima Krishna, Assistant Professor of Public Relations, which unveiled first-of-its-kind research that delved deep into consumers’ reactions to allegations of workplace gender discrimination – and key takeaways for public relations professionals from that Boston University College of Communication study.
Click here for the May 15 column, penned by Justin Joseph and Amy Shanler, Associate Professors of the Practice of Public Relations, which highlighted how the nation’s longest-operating student-run public relations agency is developing tomorrow’s leaders.
Click here for the April 24 column, penned by Dean Thomas Fielder, which elaborated upon why Boston University decided to offer the world’s first degrees in PR 70 years ago.
Enjoy your Independence Day holiday, as well as the rest of July. Please check back on Tuesday, August 1, for new content from Boston University College of Communication.