It’s Time for PR to Join the Data Revolution

The public relations industry has come a long way toward being more accountable, efficient, and productive. As someone who has worked in the PR industry for over a decade, I’m very proud of the progress that has been made so far. In the past years, various tools, methodologies, and best practices have been developed by people who were passionately dedicated to the craft. And yet, it is my belief that we could be doing more.

I believe that all industries, PR included, must innovate. Today, we must utilize big data and the technology at our disposal to deliver maximum value to our clients if we wish to remain relevant over the next hundred years.

Unlike advertising which has been disrupted by digital technology with the advent of Google AdWords, Facebook advertisements, martech platforms, and more, PR has always been relatively soft when it comes to technology adoption and the ability to gain insights and optimize efforts based on data.

The power of data has transformed nearly every industry on earth, making businesses more efficient, productive, and better able to serve their customers.

The PR Process

The outcomes of PR campaigns may be hard to track (although not totally impossible), but the processes of PR are not. As PR pros, I believe we have a responsibility to ourselves and to our clients to know if our workflow, methods, resources, and employees are operating at peak efficiency.

PR teams that are serious about becoming more data-driven should be measuring the following:

  • Agency Performance

  • Account Performance

  • Pitch Performance

  • Employee Performance

If the above seems frustratingly vague I understand. Rest assured, comprehensive data analytics and management tools like Propel, a CRM designed specifically for PR firms, turn that vagueness into measurable goals, metrics and KPIs. More importantly, these platforms can give you the data and insights you need to make better decisions and ultimately become a more capable and responsible PR professional.

Steps toward becoming data-driven:

There are many areas of PR where it would help to know the data, but the first place where you’d probably want to apply data-driven tactics is your pitch process.

The work of generating positive media coverage is fundamental to PR. A tremendous amount of effort goes into outreach and cultivating relationships with reporters. But, if you don’t have accurate ways of measuring the returns of your efforts, much of that time will be spent unproductively. Furthermore, you’ll have no way of knowing what actions are a good use of your time and what tactics amount to nothing.  

A product like Propel can help you understand what’s going on under the surface by measuring data points such as:

  • Open Rate: How many email pitches are opened by targeted reporters?

  • Response Rate: How often do reporters respond to your emails?

  • Secure Rate: How often does actual coverage result from these interactions?

  • Allocation of resources: How many employee-hours is it taking to achieve these results?

Numerous data-measurement opportunities exist in PR. The above mentioned ones are only the tip of the iceberg. There is so much more that’s possible once the industry takes advantage of the transformative power of big data, AI, and machine learning.