Part 1: How to Steal the Spotlight in HR Tech Media

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Data strengthens 100% of PR efforts. I can’t cite a study but anecdotally anyone involved with PR at Walker Sands can tell you that statement is true. And that stat caught your attention, didn’t it?

Data helps you stand out from the crowd. It adds credibility, sparks curiosity and makes messages more impactful. With years of experience in PR and content, supporting a variety of clients from payroll software to employee engagement platforms, I can tell you that data is often the common denominator in PR success. 

HR tech companies that incorporate data-driven PR campaigns in their outreach efforts tend to garner more media placements, secure more interviews and claim the lion’s share of voice.

From proprietary data to third-party research, the right mix of data can transform your PR program.

In a sea of pitches, data is your white whale

Standing out in the media landscape is a challenge. It’s even more difficult if you’re in HR tech, a sector that boasts an estimated 21,000 vendors. In this space, you’re vying for reporters’ attention against direct competitors and any company with a connection to people-related stories. So basically, every other company on the planet. 

Think you’re the perfect thought leader for a story on how hybrid offices are evolving? Take a peek into a reporter’s inbox and you’ll see dozens, if not hundreds, of pitches on that topic every day. On average, journalists only respond to 3.3% of the messages they receive — including to turn down the pitch.

To break through the digital clutter, PR outreach must offer a compelling narrative, shed light on a trend, provide a distinctive perspective — and crucially, be supported by solid data. It’s not just about making noise; it’s about making noise with substance.

Unlike traditional PR, which often tries to “sell” reporters on thought leadership to gain coverage, data isn’t asking for a favor. While the ultimate goal of data-driven PR campaigns is indeed to secure coverage, data offers readily available proof points to enhance reporters’ narratives without draining their time. From a PR perspective, data “gives” more than it takes.

Data is especially valuable in HR tech media. People-related stories (such as organizational culture, employee retention and workplace trends) have historically been perceived as “softer” news and more open to interpretation. Data helps ground these narratives, transforming subjective claims into objective insights and adding an invaluable layer of credibility and depth to storytelling.

The gift that keeps on giving

One of the first pieces of advice I give to clients about incorporating data into their PR programs is that the more consistently you do it, the more successful you’ll be. Data-related placements exist on an exponential growth curve — they start slow and steady at first, but gain momentum over time with increased frequency.

By providing a steady cadence of data, you can position your organization as a go-to source for reporters. As you establish a reputation as a data powerhouse, reporters may start reaching out to you for your perspective, whether you have data to support their ongoing stories or not. They might even suggest you investigate an emerging trend.

Consider data as a lasting investment with continuous returns. Good data can continue to secure placements years after initial publication. Just take our client Visier, who’s partnered with us since 2021 on 13 data projects to date. Back in 2021, we helped them publish a data report about employees’ stressors contributing to burnout. In the year of publication, the report garnered at least 32 placements but it continues to receive coverage — even without active PR outreach efforts.

Data not only contributes to a higher quantity of coverage but also elevates the quality of that coverage to help boost brand awareness. Thanks to data, there’s a greater likelihood that your brand will be featured in the article headline, positioned prominently within the piece or mentioned multiple times throughout the story.

Exploring three types of data

Not all data is equally interesting to reporters or their readers. The most effective PR programs integrate the right mix of platform, proprietary company and third-party data:

  1. Platform data is information extracted from the features, functionalities and customer data located within your product to reveal user interactions, behaviors and engagements. HR tech platforms are often seen as treasure troves for reporters, offering aggregated insights on topics like resignation rates, hiring trends, employee engagement levels, workforce diversity metrics and more.

    Platform data can be a useful tool in PR, but it won’t secure the most placements because it’s limited to your customer base and their interactions within a controlled environment. Additionally, platform data can be difficult for PR teams to use, since you’ll need a product team who can share information in a digestible format while protecting user privacy.

  2. Proprietary company data is unique information your organization exclusively owns and controls. While it may encompass platform data and third-party data (if it’s owned by you), in PR discussions, proprietary company data usually refers to things like revenue, merger and acquisition costs, and environmental performance.

    As you can imagine, convincing company leadership to share this type of data can be incredibly difficult since it often involves divulging sensitive information and strategic insights. However, willingness to do so can result in high-impact placements that feature your business prominently, like a story about company growth or leading industry trends.

  3. Third-party data, also known as market research data, is collected by a third-party who conducts online, phone or in-person surveys. It unveils sentiments, trends or behaviors within a subset of a specific audience (e.g., full-time employees or people managers) that can be extrapolated to the general population. Third-party data tends to generate the highest quantity of media placements because it’s less promotional and biased.

    Unlike platform or proprietary company data, third-party data does come with a price tag. You may need to partner with a market research vendor to assist in fielding and collecting your survey. Additionally, you’ll need to devote time to data analysis, crafting compelling narratives and visually promoting your data, which can be challenging to produce in-house without the right expertise. Partnering with an agency that has the necessary capabilities and relationships to handle the research process for you is another possible avenue.

Stay tuned for more on maximizing your data

Data is a powerful tool in your PR arsenal, helping fuel brand awareness, strengthen company reputation and spark audience engagement. Think of it as a secret ingredient that distinguishes you from the competition and entices reporters to come back for more.

Now that we’ve covered the importance of data and the types of data you can use, part two of our Stealing the Spotlight in HR Tech Media series will dive deeper into data best practices, covering essential dos and don’ts and how you can maximize your data investment to create robust PR programs. 

Looking for help in creating data-driven PR campaigns? Get in touch with our HR tech experts to craft your winning PR + Content formula.


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