-Maggie Burke, director of the Cultural Impact Lab. The Martin Agency
-Josh Morton, VP, head of corporate comms, North America, Nestlé
-Paul Quigley, CEO, NewsWhip
Over the course of the past few years, the conversations communicators are having about data have changed notably. The focus has shifted from quantity (how much data is available to them) to quality (getting the right data and doing the right things with it).
Most PR pros would agree that they have more information at their fingertips than ever before. The major objective now is turning all that data into predictive insights that can optimize campaign strategy and bolster reputation-management efforts.
This webcast, hosted by NewsWhip, zeroes in on those key topics. And the trio of leaders featured in this discussion shared numerous examples and bits of counsel that will help answer some of those questions communicators have about what to do with all that data.
Finding your niche
When social media platforms are discussed in the context of where to glean the most useful consumer insights, Reddit is not always atop the list. NewsWhip CEO Paul Quigley suggests that, perhaps, it should be.
Delving in Subreddits, he counsels, is a great way for brands to “spot early trends and make some bets based on what passionate early adopters might be saying about something.”
“There’s opportunity in that data,” adds Quigley. For example, he brings up Papa John's, which recently launched new food items based on insights culled from Reddit conversations, and Delta, who changed its reward program based on conversations in its Subreddit.
Social networks such as Reddit provide an opportunity for brands to identify niche audiences and gather insights and ideas from truly targeted conversations. The Martin Agency’s Maggie Burke says her team uses trend data insights to not only map out the calendar year, but to “jump on trends with our social and influencer team in real time.”
Don’t forget to look inside
Internal communications can also benefit from monitoring Reddit communities. On the platform, employees of big tech FANG (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google) companies are “talking frankly about everything from compensation to internal issues,” reports Quigley.
The experts who joined him on the webcast were in full agreement as to how crucial it is to be on top of employee conversations on social platforms.
“We actually don't separate our external and internal insights. We treat our employees like consumers,” says Nestlé’s Josh Morton. Tools such as Workplace and other internal platforms can help take the internal temperature.
“And don't forget the face-to-face communication that happens with employees,” advises Morton, reminding everyone that such interaction is absolutely a key part of the data and insights-collection process.
The power of partnerships
Gleaning powerful data comes from finding the proper balance between monitoring the right platforms and understanding that the consumer can give brands invaluable insights on where they are going and where brands can meet them at the optimal moment. The right partnership can go a long way in striking that perfect balance. Morton certainly has examples to underscore that.
He describes how the successful collaboration between the company’s S. Pellegrino brand and actor Stanley Tucci helped stoke demand for a limited edition co-branded product the company eventually launched. When Nestlé introduced S. Pellegrino's Taste of Tucci, a recipe kit featuring one of the actor’s original holiday recipes, earned media helped sell 63% of the meal kits before any paid media was activated.
Tucci was a perfect influencer with whom to partner on this because his expertise and passion for food, particularly Italian food, has been established by his popular CNN show, Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy.
“We've also done things with Hot Pockets and the super niche gaming community,” Morton adds.
An ecosystem of listening
Comms pros are also using data to track narratives and public interest in rapidly evolving social issues. Since Nestlé has a massive global footprint, Morton understands how crucial it is that his team has developed an “ecosystem of listening.”
“News travels really fast between countries, so part one is creating the tools to help you keep track of everything that's going on,” he explains. “The challenge is then translating that into what your consumers are actually saying. When you're dealing with an evolving issue, you have to step back and dig a little bit deeper to make sure the action you're going to take will resonate with your consumers.”
On the flip side, Burke notes that real-time data can clue the team in on when a trend is over, which is just as important as determining when a trend is about to start. Having the data to back up her recommendations makes it easier to advise creatives that it’s time to move on. Of course, real-time insight is also a great tool for targeting messaging to journalists most interested and likely to cover that information.
Predictive data went a long way in the execution of a Budweiser campaign that eventually led to the creation of the Pupweiser, which sold out in the blink of an eye.
Putting things in context
Quigley often discusses how crucial it is to understand context when it comes to interpreting data. It is key in helping guide comms decisions on issues that need to be made in real time.
How much momentum something is gaining can indicate whether it’s likely to expand from one media market to another. And that is a telltale sign as to whether an issue requires attention or not. Taking a step back and reviewing the data can help ensure that brands don’t react too quickly.
During the webcast, he cites two examples of issues that seemed to loom large, only to die down quickly when more breaking news caused the public to quickly move on. These are absolute learning moments for all.
“I cannot tell you how many times the predictability tool has really saved me,” shares Burke. The right tools allow pros to “get our crisis comms plan in order and start getting the right people in the room to have those conversations. Getting a client to come back down to earth, take a beat and be more thoughtful, rather than just executional, has been one of the biggest changes in the PR industry as a whole.”
She also cites some specific cases when data and insights played a major role in executing a successful campaign for Budweiser. Her team used data and insights to tap into the popularity of Dogecoin, based on the Doge meme. The idea was to send out a tweet that if Dogecoin got to $1, they would create a can designed just for the Tweet.
“We had to use the data to get the client on board because a creative idea can kind of scare them a bit,” she recalls. “But if you show them that their audience is in these niche communities and that this is a good idea that will work, you can get them on board. Our fans really put our feet to the fire. Three months later, a Doge can – the Pupweiser – was created. It sold out in less than a minute. We couldn't have asked for better.”
How data brings teams together
Participants also offer thoughts on sharing data insights more widely in an organization.
Morton encourages comms to “make friends with marketing.”
“They look at things differently than communications people do,” he notes. “If you are able to lean in with your marketing peers, you're going to get better information, better data, better context. That's going to help inform decisions when you present a recommendation to the C-suite.”
When teams share data, it also raises the IQ and EQ on external issues for the entire organization. “That’s an exciting frontier,” adds Quigley.
It’s no surprise that data literacy will remain a top priority for comms pros. It certainly will for Morton as he builds out the function and develops his staff. Moreover, he expects his agency partners to provide those skills, as well. He looks for partners who are “bringing the best insights about the technology to their employees so that they can counsel their clients appropriately.”
To close the webcast out, Quigley emphasizes that predictive real-time data is here to stay.
“It's rich. And we're getting much better at applying it to decisions,” he concludes. “It’s going to be necessary for navigating this very complex media environment.”
Click here to watch – or rewatch – this webcast on-demand.