The current media landscape has all but done away with traditional media pitching in which you throw out your press release to as many journalists as possible and hope it sticks. Today, journalists want to be pitched things that they are interested in, and they want something that pops.

That thing might just be data.

To someone with a communications degree, data is their worst nightmare. Yes, sometimes numbers are scary, but data must become your best friend as a PR professional.

Don’t worry, we’re not here to scare you. We want you to know why it is necessary to pitch data-driven content and how you can best use it to your advantage.

Why Data-Driven PR?

Data-driven PR is not just a fancy term for using and gathering data as a basis for PR and marketing strategies, it has become the content that journalists desire.

Cision’s 2023 State of the Media report found 68% of journalists want to see original research and trend data in pitches. See what we did there? Now you’re paying attention.

“Journalists are far more likely to pick up your company’s story if it includes data that fits with the overall story you wish to tell,” Bess Ellenson, Tunheim’s Director of PR and Media, said. “It gives your story more interest and authority, and creates less work for the journalist.”

Your original research also allows journalists to use your company as a source, which can be a great way to receive earned media.

There are other benefits to data-driven content, such as that it makes complex stories less complex, and provides deeper insights about the topic at hand. Including infographics and other visual elements can also help increase understanding.

Psychology can even back up why data is important. A study by Conductor found that people are 36% more likely to click on stories that have numbers in the headline. This is because numbers tell us what to expect from the rest of the story. Leading with a strong data point could help you earn great success.

How to Collect Data

The fun part is collecting data to see what you can learn about your business, customers or industry, and there are several ways to go about it.

One strategy is to look at your existing databases such as your website, which can be full of data on website traffic, clicks, time on page and more.

You can look within your own business for people that may have more insights into a certain topic, such as a wildlife refuge seeing a decrease in butterfly populations.

“Market research is another great way to search for trends happening within your industry and learn about consumer needs and preferences,” Ellenson said. “Or you can conduct consumer surveys to uncover their intent and behaviors.”

Just take a look at clever stories like one put out by Jawbone, a sleep and movement tracker which found the cities around the world with the most and least sleep.

OkCupid has an entire data center in which they share loads of dating trends. In 2022, they released a report that found daters on their platform think midterm voters are more attractive. Not only does that tell us a lot about the dating scene, but it has also much broader implications about the role of politics in our society and could launch an entirely different story on its own.

Most businesses have data, they just need to find it and know what to do with it. We have a few tips to enhance your approach.

3 Ways to Use Data-Driven Content to Your Advantage

It’s one thing if your company has original research, but it’s another thing to know how to pitch it. Before diving in, there are a few more things to consider. Here are three ways you can turn research data into a real story:

  1. Center the Pitch Around Your Research ─ According to an expert panel of PR pros, original research is a welcomed addition to any pitch, but it should be the focus of your pitch rather than throwing in a few supplemental stats. Also, be sure your pitch has the intended goal to inform or entertain the reader first.
  2. Include Visuals ─ Don’t forget, you’re trying to tell a compelling story. Visuals can help, so include things like infographics or videos that can enhance your story and easily convey the data you are sharing.
  3. Use Artificial Intelligence ─ You probably don’t want AI writing your pitches for you, but it can certainly help collect and analyze your data. Tools like TELUS International can help you with data collection, while tools like Tableau can help you make sense of the information before you by discovering trends you may have missed.

Hopefully now data-driven PR isn’t as scary as it sounds. If you have data that you want share, or want to know more about where to start, contact us and we’ll help turn it into a story with staying power.

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