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How to use data to drive PR’s storytelling efforts

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Data supports storytelling by bringing credibility and reliability to the message a brand’s PR team is deploying.

Here’s how to ensure a brand’s PR strategies are able to incorporate data into the storytelling aspect.

Look for patterns

According to the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer Global Report, 48% of consumers do not believe the messages businesses put out, especially when it comes to paid media.

But people do believe other people. A whopping 85% of online shoppers rate customer reviews as reliable as a recommendation from a trusted friend, making customer feedback an important tool for trustworthy PR messages. These reviews can be used for a data-driven story by finding the patterns and transforming them into data points.

If the majority of reviews are positive, turn those messages into a percentage:

  • 88% of customers report a positive experience
  • Nine out of 10 satisfied customers would recommend us to a friend or colleague

Take a look at the messages customers are leaving. Where are the overlaps? What words are commonly used and what is the general sentiment from the audience? Questions can be designed to be easily translated into data, such as asking customers the likelihood to repurchase or by including a star rating.

When data-driven customer statements are incorporated into PR messages, other consumers are more likely to trust the brand and engage with it. When the audience shares its experiences, results, and feelings, it is the one telling the brand’s story – ultimately attracting future customers.

Identify segment-specific pain points

Many brands organize customers into specific segments to help the PR team get into the minds of the consumer. This strategy gives brands a clearer picture of their audience by transforming it into personalities, rather than just generalizations.

These segments can also help identify certain pain points customers face. In addition to looking at reviews, listen to what customers are saying on social media platforms. Observing the social conversations of various segments, brands can easily identify the top concerns, objections, and talking points. These conversations may focus on the brand itself, a product, or the industry at large.

For instance, a B2B company that offers inventory management software to small-to-medium enterprises may have segments defined by industry, such as companies that service retail, agriculture, or online entities. By tracking the trending topics in each of those segments with monitoring systems, the brand will have the exact datasets needed to support the PR direction.

Follow-up PR stories can talk about the fact that 75% of retail vendors do not have inventory management software in place, and 60% of companies regularly over-order supplies. Or that 80% of e-commerce businesses struggle to maintain inventory balances, but those that use inventory management software – such as the B2B company’s – report a 25% increase in profits.


Observing the social conversations of various segments, brands can identify the top concerns, objections, and talking points. These conversations may focus on the brand itself, a product, or the industry at large.


Media monitoring can help keep track of how customers are relating to the brand. Any time the brand name is mentioned online, whether through social posts, blog mentions, or media inclusions, the company can track the message’s reach and response. This information can help the PR team identify pain points directly related to the company or product and allow for more meaningful responses.

Segmenting an audience into specific categories helps the brand understand that audience’s needs and desires, which is why many marketing and PR teams divide customers into incredibly specific niches. This strategy is not only incredibly helpful for organizing and attracting groups to a brand, it can also help clarify pain points to guide PR campaigns with the data to back it up.

Analyze content overlap with influencers

Influencers can be the best storytellers of all, and they are without a doubt an essential piece to the PR puzzle in today’s market. But making data-driven partnering decisions can be more complex than just finding the influencers customers want to follow.

Unfortunately, the majority of marketers find identifying the best influencer accounts to reach relevant audiences is their top challenge with this type of strategy. Plus, influencers are incredibly niche-driven, so their reach may only cover a portion of a business’ audience.

The best way to judge whether or not an influencer will reach relevant audiences is by looking at their content, rather than their followers. More importantly, look for the overlaps in which the influencer’s messaging and vision is a match with the brand’s. The topics they focus on and their niche authority is far easier to identify, and it can prove whether or not a promotion of a brand will be a relevant fit.

Be sure to look out for content similarities that would contribute to a successful partnership. After all, if that account covered the same topics the business included in previous content, a brand mention on their page would fit right in.

Simply stating a message is not enough. With consumers continuously losing trust in the media and businesses, brands must be able to back up statements and choices with objective facts. Weaving data points into PR storytelling strategies is the best way to establish trustworthy and relevant messages to catch an audience’s attention and maintain their interest. Ultimately, the goal of this is to create loyalty.


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