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Data-Driven Journalism

Ken Gaebler

Data-Driven Journalism and Data-Driven PR
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Data-driven journalism and data-driven PR are in their infancy, but they are gaining steam with each passing day.

Data-driven journalists look for interesting data that they can transform into a good story. If you want to be featured in a story written by these journalists, you'll need to take inventory of what data you have that might be interesting to readers, listeners and viewers.

For the purposes of data-driven PR, you can mine data or you can make data. Let's take a look at these two ways to get story placements.

First off, do you have interesting data that you can mine that can tell a good story? For example, long ago Walker Sands approached our client SurePayroll with the concept of mining their payroll data to come up with some interesting economic statistics.

Simply by running their online payroll service business, SurePayroll had accumulated payroll data for tens of thousands of U.S. small businesses. Our recommendation was to mine that data and come up with statistics on small business hiring trends, salary trends, and other interesting small business trends. We packaged up this information into a monthly SurePayroll Small Business Scorecard, which garnered hundreds of placements over the years in top-tier media outlets.

We did something similar with Having heard about our good PR results for SurePayroll, approached us about transforming their large dataset of business-for-sale listings and closed transactions into a phenomenal source of information for the media. We happily helped out and created the Quarterly Insights Report. It is now featured regularly in the media as a source of information on small business trends with respect to buying and selling a business.

We've had many other successes by leveraging data-driven PR for other clients.

Take a moment to think about what data assets you have that could make you an authority on a topic. For example, a company like Google could look at their Gmail statistics and come out with a press release that discusses the growing trend of people accessing email from phones, rather than from desktop computers or laptops. They'd have the exact numbers and they could report on changes in the trend every quarter. Or, they could come out with a statistic on what minute of the day Americans are most likely to check their email (e.g. 9:12 AM).

If you've racked your brain and you don't think you have any data that would be attractive to data-driven journalism enthusiasts, the next question to ask is whether you can create a new dataset that will do the trick.

A tried and true technique is to survey your customers, or, if that's not an option, work with a marketing firm like Walker Sands to survey an outside group. These survey results then become good inputs to data-driven journalism.

For example, Fidelity Investments recently got this Wall Street Journal placement: 7% of survey respondents said they're planning now to convert to a Roth, according to a Fidelity Investments survey of 800 people with retirement accounts and household income of $100,000 or higher.

If they had pitched journalists on doing a story on Roth IRA conversions and didn't have the survey data to back it, their chances of getting the story would have been greatly reduced.

You now understand the basics of data-driven public relations. Start tapping into the power of data-driven journalism today. It's a great way to promote your thought leadership and establish your company as an authority. With data-driven pitches in hand, you'll quickly establish yourself as an expert resource that journalists will go to whenever they need a source.

Once you attain that status, it's a gift that keeps on giving. Those PR placements will raise your visibility and attract new customers and business partners. Once you figure it out, it’s like having a secret weapon that, along with many other things, can help you best the competition and get on a path to greatness.