Part 2: How to Steal the Spotlight in HR Tech Media

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As an HR tech company, you know how difficult it is to stand out from the other 20,000+ vendors competing for their moment in the limelight. 

Data is a powerful tool in a PR professional’s arsenal, giving HR tech companies both star power and staying power. In part 1 of this series, we discussed how the right mix of third-party, platform and proprietary company data can fuel your PR strategy, improving the quality and quantity media placements, boosting brand awareness and sparking audience engagement.

But not all data is created equal — or of equal value to journalists. To ensure your data is newsworthy, you need to approach data work deliberately, enhance it with storytelling and amplify it with additional content, PR, social and creative investments. Without these elements, your data may not garner the visibility or impact you’re aiming for.

The unmatched value of third-party data

While in-house platform and proprietary data offer insights at a minimal cost, they often appear more promotional to journalists since it’s directly related to your company or customers. This type of data is valuable to complement stories on your organization’s growth or industry trends, but it rarely forms the core of a robust data strategy.

Third-party data, on the other hand, is the cornerstone of data-driven PR strategy. With less of a direct connection to your product or offering and featuring insights sourced from a neutral audience that’s untethered to your brand, it appears less self-serving and can be incorporated into a broader range of stories.

By capturing the sentiments and experiences of specific audiences, like consumers or full-time employees, this type of data provides compelling evidence to support reporters’ stories in ways internal data can’t. For example, consider the subject of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and the types of data that are most appealing to the media:

  • Good: Sharing that your company hosts 20 annual DEI-related events.
  • Better: Revealing your platform found 80% employee engagement with DEI-related events.
  • Best: Your latest survey found 92% of full-time employees wish their organizations hosted more DEI events.

Compared to the first two data points, the latter finding is more easily slotted into reporters’ articles, fitting into a host of DEI narratives, whether they’re about corporate culture transformation, employee well-being or societal impacts of workplace inclusivity.

The dos and don’ts of third-party data

Third-party research does require a heavier lift than using in-house data, especially if you’re planning to handle the work in-house. You’ll need to invest in building strategic partnerships with market research experts, compensating survey takers, and managing data collection, as well as dedicating time for in-depth analysis, narrative development and concerted promotional efforts.

As a seasoned PR and content professional with years of experience ideating, executing and promoting third-party data, I’ve compiled several dos and don’ts to help you create newsworthy data delivers results:

  1. Define your narrative
    Do: Start with a clear, compelling hypothesis or story that you want your data to tell. This guiding narrative should align with your brand’s messaging, timely trends in the media and resonate with your target audience.

    Don’t: Dive into data collection without a strategic framework or clear objectives. Aimless research can lead to confusing or irrelevant insights and limit the ability to tell a convincing narrative.

  2. Embrace bold questions
    Do: Include thought-provoking, even controversial, questions to elicit strong opinions and generate buzzworthy insights. Write questions in a way that requires respondents to take a stand, rather than select middle-of-the-road responses.

    Don’t: Rely solely on safe, neutral questions that lead to bland, non-newsworthy data. We occasionally see clients who want to replicate existing studies they’ve seen elsewhere, but playing it safe and echoing questions from other surveys won’t differentiate your data or attract media attention.

  3. Target your audience wisely
    Do: Identify a specific audience segment that aligns with your business objectives and the story you want to tell. We recommend targeting 1,000 consumers or full-time employees, then narrowing down qualifiers from there. Remember that additional parameters will add cost and reduce feasibility.

    Don’t: Overcomplicate your audience. Overly narrow parameters not only make audience recruitment difficult and expensive but could compromise the statistical significance of your results. Additionally, this approach may restrict your findings to a very niche audience or publication, limiting its broader relevance and longevity.

  4. Rigorously check data
    Do: Implement data quality checks at various stages of the process. Initially, monitor data as it’s being collected to confirm the survey logic is functioning as intended and to verify that responses are from genuine participants. Later, review all deliverables to ensure the data you’re about to publish accurately reflects the raw results and hasn’t been mistyped or misinterpreted.

    Don’t: Overlook the importance of data verification. Skipping this quality assurance process can jeopardize the integrity of your research and the reputation of your brand, potentially forcing a costly redo of the survey — or worse, a need to rescind the results publically.

  5. Iterate data analysis
    Do: Include multiple rounds of analysis among multiple reviewers to dive deeper into your data. Consider cross-tabulating to compare and contrast the results for one or more variables (e.g., gender or generation).

    Don’t: Settle for a preliminary analysis that only scratches the surface of what your data has to offer. A cursory review, especially if limited to one reviewer, risks overlooking insights and may inadvertently bias the interpretation of the results.

  6. Prioritize data amplification
    Do: We recommend amplifying research findings with engaging, data-driven content deliverables like infographics, gated reports, blog posts, tip sheets and custom decks to capture audience attention and optimize for search engines. Motion graphics in particular are a great way to boost engagement via social media.

    Don’t: Rely solely on traditional, text-heavy documents to communicate your findings. Considering the average internet user has an 8-second attention span, failing to present your data in a visually engaging, easily digestible format can limit its reach.

  7. Consider PR efforts strategically
    Do: Develop a thorough PR distribution strategy that considers the focus of your target media outlets. Consider conducting a mix of exclusive, embargo and launch-day pitching to ensure coverage on the day of publication and beyond.

    Don’t: Take a backseat or one-size-fits-all approach to your data promotion efforts. A one-size-fits-all strategy overlooks the nuances of your data and the media landscape, potentially leading to missed opportunities for meaningful coverage.

  8. Promote continuously
    Do: Keep the momentum going by continuously seeking opportunities to promote your data. Monitor current events, industry trends and ongoing conversations that your data can contribute to. This ongoing promotion ensures your data will continue to generate interest and engagement long after its initial release.

    Don’t: Fall into the trap of believing that a single promotional push will cut it. You’ll miss out on valuable opportunities to get your brand and its data in the news.

The power of data expertise

Conducting third-party research and translating raw findings into impactful PR narratives takes significant time, effort and expertise — especially if you don’t already have trusted partners in place. But when it’s done right, third-party data is  an investment that pays dividends, helping your company gain attention in a crowded HR tech space.

Partnering with professionals who bring experience, established research networks and the necessary toolkits can alleviate this burden, making the use of third-party data more manageable and effective.

If you’re ready to stand out from the competition by capturing the interest of reporters and readers, our team of HR tech experts is here to guide you. Reach out to Walker Sands for an integrated approach to research, content and PR that propels your brand to the forefront.


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