PR has always been considered a long-term, highly effective marketing strategy. However, most startups face significant challenges when it comes to public relations. They know its importance but often lack the resources and vision to stir up good PR. Building those important connections with an audience and the media can be costly, and with many new businesses operating on a tight budget, an ultra-robust PR campaign doesn’t always seem feasible.
That’s where a data-driven approach comes into play.
Incorporating data into your PR strategy delivers tons of benefits. Rich data sets can provide your marketing team with the information it needs to make smarter decisions and grow faster. And yet, Cision’s Global Comms Report found only 19% of companies were actually receiving the full benefits of data in their PR efforts. However, 61% found data provided their team with better insight into content consumption, and 80% said it helped them understand how people found their brand’s content online.
Here are four methods your startup can use to create a more data-driven PR strategy.
Determine how to narrate the brand story
While data can provide your PR team with directions on how to get from point A to point B, these instructions are useless without a starting point or destination. Before embarking on a data-driven PR strategy, your team needs to define the brand down to the most minute details and identify goals for your business.
Start by evaluating who and what your brand is. This could mean defining the business’ personality as if it were a living, breathing thing. In determining your brand story, prepare to answer questions like:
- What does my business offer?
- Who would be interested in what my business offers?
- How does my brand want customers to view it?
- What is the general feeling my brand wants to conjure up when a customer interacts with it?
Once the basis of your brand narrative is in place, you need to decide how it will be communicated to the audience with data-backed strategies. Start off by creating a clear and concise brand slogan and logo that immediately convey this message to your brand’s customers.
As you finalize the creative direction of the brand, use the data-fueled reporting insights from the chosen platforms. With this information, your PR team will start to understand the essence of the brand and who its customers are, and, in turn, will see how to best narrate this story through PR messaging.
Review present and potential data sources
Though your startup may not have a plethora of data resources, it does have access to some databases and sources from which data can be pulled. Start by looking at information about your brand’s competitors. There are plenty of data-backed social listening tools that allow your PR team to track the strategies of competing brands and identify their traffic sources, SEO strategies, and even their social media audiences. This can give your team a better idea of what is or isn’t working for other companies in the same industry and provide a foundation for your brand’s own data-driven strategies.
Remember to use the data your brand already has to gauge storytelling efforts with each piece of content your team publishes. Look at current interactions to see how customers perceive your brand. Conduct a preliminary market research campaign to identify customer pain points, opinions, and suggestions to give insight into current standings. Start with what is available and build from there.
Start collecting data from the beginning
Data collection needs to be a major part of your startup’s PR strategy from the very beginning. Cision’s Global Comms Report notes that 54% of PR professionals list analytics and reporting among their three most important activities for successful branding.
There are plenty of ways to start gathering meaningful information about your customers. Whether real-time behavior is tracked through your company’s website, direct feedback collected from customers, or via technology that tracks brand mentions and sentiment, you should have a plan in place to gather accurate and relevant data. You can also purchase data resources such as surveys and consumer reports that provide reliable information on customers’ demographics or industry.
Regardless of whether you have a large amount of data resources on hand, you need to have a plan to start building a robust database when traction picks up.
Use data insights to create actionable content
The most important step of establishing a data-driven PR plan for your startup is actually applying the data. It’s also often the trickiest part, even for the most knowledgeable and experienced marketers.
When it comes to using data insights to create actionable content in the way of PR, think about the concepts of cause marketing. Cause marketing is a strategy that works to tie things that are most important to customers to a brand. This is done by using relevant data sets to understand the target audience and how it relates to a particular cause.
Studies have found that 90% of shoppers would be more likely to switch to a brand that supports a good cause or takes a stand on a social issue. Therefore, following the cause marketing trend not only gives a company the chance to make a positive difference in the world but also helps make the business more profitable.
First, it’s important to understand which cause(s) is important to your target audience. You can accomplish this by using social media monitoring to measure sentiment and see what types of organizations and accounts your target audience follows or how it feels about a certain topic.
If your brand has a certain cause in mind, it’s a good idea to conduct some research and ask which topics are most meaningful to your customers. From there, your startup can incorporate this insight into its brand messaging and encourage people to get involved.
Starbuck’s RED campaign is a great example of this type of campaign. The coffee brand saw that supporting AIDS treatments and prevention was an important cause their customers supported, so it launched its RED campaign, which donated a portion of every sale to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The brand used a special cup design to build awareness and get customers involved in a cause that was truly important to them.
A data-driven PR strategy is surely one that will succeed in the long run. However, it’s important for startups to understand how to create this kind of plan from the very beginning and get things moving down the right path.
PR strategies are more of a marathon than a sprint; it takes time to gather enough data to gain truly deep insights into your audience. Data-driven PR requires an understanding of not just how to apply data but how to gather the most meaningful sources of information as well.
Download the Cision PRWeek Global Comms Report.