by Simon Clark

How data can drive true measurability in PR

This week I’ve had the pleasure of visiting my colleagues here in Hong Kong and also attending the PR360Asia conference. The conference is a gathering of some of the brightest brains in the PR industry, both agency and in-house. High on the agenda this week, and a topic close to my heart, is data and measurement.

As a discipline, PR has too often lacked the benefit of being able to measure precise, tangible results and outcomes. In fact, sometimes I feel that I was destined to work in PR. Before studying communications, I originally went to university and studied psychology, another discipline that sometimes struggles with quantifiable, empirical measurement.

Sitting in the plenary session this morning a comment was made by one of the panelists that likened the rise of data analytics to the ‘holy grail’ for the PR industry. Reflecting on this further, data really is the holy grail. It is the perfectly fitting puzzle piece that will propel the PR industry into the realm of credible measurement that our sister disciplines marketing and advertising have enjoyed for so long.

Unlike the ill-fitting puzzle pieces of AVEs, quantitative media clips, or even Facebook likes, data can provide us with end-to-end campaign measurability. From the initial discovery phase, audience profiling, informing creative incites, right through to monitoring behavioural change, sales and ongoing sentiment – data can do it all for us, and it’s awesome.

However, as an industry we need to start adapting to this new normal and begin building data, analysis and measurement into every aspect of our campaign planning and consulting. Executing a campaign and applying analysis only to the results is effectively using ‘data after the fact.’ Unless we adapt and use data to inform our planning, research and ideation as well as our results then we’ll be doing a disservice to ourselves and our clients, not to mention the data itself.

Listening to some of the judges comments about the submissions for the awards here at the conference, it seems clear that whilst we have access to most of these data analytics tools, we still need to get smarter about how this data informs the various stages of our campaigns and our strategy.

So as technology skips ahead at a startling pace, ask yourself, are you using data-driven tactics? Have you dipped your toe into the world of drip marketing? Have you considered social remarketing? Are you tracking your content marketing efforts through to point of purchase?

We all have a responsibility to embrace the data revolution, and as the scales tip and PR becomes more science than art, we must take advantage of the unprecedented opportunity to drive the industry forward, and it’s all thanks to data.

Lukas Picton is Client Relationship Lead in Weber Shandwick’s Technology Practice

Photo by Bob Mical

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