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Last month I attended the Public Relations Society of America’s Western District Conference where Carla Sandine, owner of Highway Twenty, taught all about “The Data-Driven Approach to Nonprofits.” I have to admit, at first I was a little worried about attending. You see, when I think data, I think math, numbers, statistics, quantitative measurements and everything I didn’t like about college.

During the session she explored ways that nonprofits can collect and use data to make more informed decisions when it comes to communications strategy and that making it work for your business doesn’t have to be a scary thing.

Her tips:

  1. Measure and manage
  2. Make informed decisions
  3. Share

Her session got me thinking more about “data” than it probably should have. Was this so called data-driven approach reshaping the PR profession at all? Is this profession moving away from reliance on a “gut instinct” and to the use of data-based analytics?

My answer was—yes.

The way we share information is different from 10 years ago. Thanks to social media platforms, there has never been so much content and data available for PR professionals as there is today. Sure the large amount of information about likes and dislikes, product reviews, comments and ratings coming from every which way can give a headache to anyone. But if used properly data can measure success to potentially increase sales, customer base, web traffic and ultimately build relationships with consumers and clients.

Let me explain -- various platforms like the internet, news, etc. deliver hundreds of millions of social messages per day. Instead of being fearful of the type of information you might see or read about your company, client or product -- use the data to help analyze your current strategy and make improvements.

Here are a few things to consider:

  • Remember it’s not the data; it’s the meaning behind the data.
  • There can never be too much data. You never know where you can find information that will create an interesting storyline, build relationships, drive coverage about a trend or yield an opportunity for you to discuss how your product addresses a consumer need.
  • Don’t be afraid of the results. If something isn’t working, why do it?
  • Always acknowledge your failures to allow your company to improve and provide better services, make smarter decisions and ensure growth and better productivity in the future.
  • Make those recommendations based on results.

So, what are your thoughts on a data-driven approach in your profession?

Katie Snyder
Katie Snyder
A former HMA Public Relations employee.

1 Comment

  1. Scott Hanson says:

    Interesting how the data has changed over the years. Gone is ad equivalency — thankfully.

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