Blogs  / January 14, 2014

The new PR narrative: we’ve got data, people

by Rebekah Iliff

This week, I published an article on Inc.com entitled “Marketing in the age of the customer.” It revolves around 2 important aspects of the future of marketing, in which PR plays an important role: data and the customer.

TechCrunch-Analyst-quoteFour weeks ago, I sat in a Think Tank at Dell World 2013 with about 20 of the world’s leading CMOs, CIOs, and Analysts who discussed (at length) how to bridge the gap between marketing and technology as the world (and subsequently businesses) become more data-driven.

Twelve weeks ago, Onclusive did a press launch of our second product, Analyst, which garnered media attention in TechCrunch, Bloomberg Businessweek, FastCompany, VentureBeat, The Next Web, PR Week, and a slew of others.

NOTE: We didn’t send out a press release. And we only talked to about fifteen journalists.

Over one year ago, we started getting into “social” conversations, posting blogs, hosting roundtables, and having discussions with the smartest people we knew in the PR space – particularly with thoughts about PR measurement.

Two years ago, we started building Analyst, even before we publicly launched our first product, Marketplace.

Why the backwards timeline?

Because there is an important lesson to be learned, and it’s important to share:

PR is not a one-shot effort you apply to your marketing cycle. And it has very little to do with press. The press is there to drive forward YOUR narrative. The one you have shaped. The one in which you are passionately invested.

PR is, quite frankly, a fundamental layer to your business, just like social now is.

You don’t become a “thought leader” overnight (re: Inc.com publishing something or sitting in on Think Tanks with leading CMOs).

Journalists don’t care about your story until it aligns with trends or takes away a major pain to which everyone can relate so theyFastCompany-Analyst-quote can drive traffic and prove their value to publishers (re: several mainstream publications writing about our Analyst launch).

What we learned, using our own product (Analyst) is that while media is an important aspect to building your brand, it’s still the quality and relevance of the story that matters. And about 13190123 other things that I won’t get into here.

It takes thousands of meaningful conversations both online and offline. Hundreds of email exchanges aimed at individuals not publishers. And about fifty trips to a therapist’s office.

Furthermore, it takes a solid foundation and understanding of what value you bring to the table so that your customers “get it” within a very short period of time.

Otherwise you are just swatting at flies.

So with that context in mind – today we are making an argument for why Analyst is so important to this overall shift in the PR narrative.

In 8 steps, here is why we are relevant, and here’s what we’re doing to change the industry…

#1 The PR shift

With the proliferation of technology and the democratization of information via the Internet over the past decade, the PR landscape has certainly changed. What once revolved (mostly) around securing stories in local, regional, and national print and broadcast outlets, has shifted and exploded to include social media and content marketing as digital quickly became the leading (if not preferred) source of information exchange and storytelling.

#2 The PR pro challenge

It is no longer about having a long-term relationship with a beat reporter you’ve known for 10 years…it has evolved into the speedy distribution of content and driving leads to digital real estate (website, blog, social media channels). PR pros, then, have become more like content creators and conversationalists who must understand thousands of data points instead of merely understanding what beat or topic a journalist covers.

Bloomberg-Analyst-Quote#3 The Journalist of today

PR professionals are certainly not the only players in the digital-shift game; journalists, who are now outnumbered by PR flacks at an astounding 4:1, are also under scrutiny as pressure mounts for them to produce stories that are sharable and traffic-generating. All of this while they attempt to weed out the thousands of irrelevant and terrible pitches they receive on a regular basis.

#4 Companies and brands driven by data

The last player in the PR game, the company/brand, who can now see the possibilities of data to make better decisions in terms of Advertising spends, expect the same transparency and analytics-based outcomes for its PR cousin – or red-headed stepchild, depending on your take.

#5 Modern PR solutions

The result of this shift is a variety of PR software companies and “social listening” technologies that can track digital media and social activity to tell you when you show up in search results, certain outlets, or various media channels; and if you have access to that data you can somewhat see what information is resonating, how many eyeballs have seen your news, and how many visitors have come to your website.

#6 Information vs. insight

But what you can’t see, or understand for that matter, is what that means in terms of your bottom line or your brand, nor can you see how your PR outcomes compare to your competitors. In other words, you have a lot of information, but little insight.

Agencies and internal marketing communications folks still need a vast amount of human capital to extrapolate the data and create something meaningful out of it. And these extrapolations remain largely subjective in nature and are often at the whim of CMOs, CEOs, and “name that C-suite exec” who randomly decides what is important for that month, quarter, or year.

# 7 Signal-to-noise ratio

PR monitoring and tracking solutions often pump out a lot of noise (unwanted signal) to a relatively distorted signal (meaningful information).

Onclusive Analyst cuts through the fat and offers top-level insights around data that matters to your business objectives: data derived from specific PR initiatives in the digital realm.

In other words, Analyst blocks the noise and diffuses the signal into digestible, actionable data: more meaningful information, less unwanted signal.

#8 The outcome

This increase in the signal-to-noise ratio empowers brands and the agencies that represent them. When decision makers understand what’s working and what isn’t, they can “double down” on certain aspects, eliminate others, and make impactful budget allocations for future PR campaigns, much like they do for Advertising.

Well there you have it.

That’s about as clear as we can get as to why Analyst is relevant.

Our job, as a technology company driven by data – but keenly aware of how humans actually use data – is to shift the narrative so that PR becomes an activity bolstered by data, yet free to apply creative thought and strategic insights.

These two things, when working together, will most certainly lift the PR image and shift industry thinking…