Some public relations professionals have said they entered the field to avoid complex math. It seemed like a pretty safe bet.
No longer. The Internet has significantly changed the way every industry works. As communications becomes more digital, more quantified, and more data-driven, the pressure is on for pros to be as comfortable with data collection, metrics and measurement as they are at writing and creativity.
To explore why this is important, let’s look at an example of how data helps PR get press for clients.
Meet Shannon. Let’s say Shannon has a company do some surveying for a client to pose questions to the industry as a whole. Her team receives the data and then releases a study or white paper detailing any notable trends in her client’s industry. The client gets some great press out of it. People share the piece. Shannon receives calls from the media about it. Life is good, right? But Shannon’s team made some assumptions when creating the content; assumptions that data was saying one thing without considering all the other possibilities.
In every industry, there are naysayers and critics waiting to highlight when and where we get it wrong. They look for opportunities to attack a brand and its credibility. Those same critics will be waiting to point those assumptions or how the data was twisted to make the client look good.
Why does all this matter? SHIFT CEO Todd Defren is fond of the axiom that being credible sets the stage for being incredible. Presenting data that is statistically invalid and unreliable calls into question the credibility of your company, your brand, and your reputation (or that of your clients). When you’re seeking a competitive advantage from earned media, credibility is key. Cutting corners in data, analysis, or insight development is when your program goes from impregnable to questionable.
The bottom line: marketing communications needs to approach its understanding of data and metrics smartly. This goes for every industry. If you don’t have the in-house capabilities to be smart with data, work with other agencies that do. If you’re struggling to redefine your career path with all this math getting in the way: take a course, find a mentor, but adapt. With software to help, it may not be as painful as you think.
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