How PRs companies and pros can use Big Data to their advantage

There are so many ways in which big data is being used in professional industries. According to a Gartner study, almost 75% of companies have invested in big data in 2016-2017. Usually data like this is utilized by larger corporations with analytic teams, but public relation departments and agencies are finding ways to take advantage of it as well. By using social listening tools and applications that organize the appropriate data, PR professionals can use data in many different ways to help their clients.

Making better decisions

Much of PR work is based on intuition, but there is an opportunity to gain insight with facts and data as well. By using social listening tools that provide agencies with big data, they can use this information to help make decisions based on fact as well as good judgement. This data can help professionals identify better niche communities for specific campaigns. For example, if PR agencies are collecting data online through social listening, they are able to learn more information about the sentiment of their clients in certain niche communities, such as the business or technology community to name a few. From there, they can customize campaigns and identify specific influencers and journalists to reach out to within these sectors. This changes the game of online public relations because it allows professionals to have solid data and proof for their successful initiatives.

Preventing Crisis

Preventing a crisis from happening is never an easy task. According to Mentionlytics, about 30% of all company crises turns global in less than an hour. To prevent major setbacks, PR agencies are using social listening and big data to catch small problems before they become major issues. By searching online through Twitter, FaceBook, YouTube, and blogs, PR agencies are able to read up about the sentiment of their clients. This allows them to catch any bad publicity that looks serious enough to take off into the news cycle and become trending. If they find a bad reaction to a client in real time, brands can rapidly respond to the concern, preventing the chance of a serious crisis.

Staying Ahead of Competitors

One major point of pride for PR professionals is always staying one step ahead. This of course includes staying ahead of competitors. PR professionals aren’t just gathering information on their own clients, but they are also gathering information on the sentiment of competitors and what they’ve been advertising to the public. This helps them have a real time understanding of what the competition is working on and how they can help provide innovative solutions for staying ahead. That is after all, one of the more popular reasons why companies or individuals hire PR personnel; to provide innovative solutions on how to stay more positively relevant than their competitors.

Measuring Success

It’s difficult to find a clear cut of what success looks like in the PR industry. With qualitative results ruling success, it can be hard to attach a numerical goal to this type of work. However, data can help with this. While what should be measured hasn’t been set, developing a qualitative measuring system through data and analytics could be beneficial. Using tools, like Sysomos Map or free apps like Google Analytics, data can be collected and in turn be used for numerical analytics. This allows the client and agency to have a goal in mind, while also measuring the public relations work that’s been accomplished.

The Challenges

While data collection has many benefits to the public relations field, there are also many challenges and fears that come along with blending big data and PR. One of them would be the fear of losing valuable face to face interactions. Much of PR work has to do with communications and the transfer of information through story. With too much data in the mix, many PR professionals have a concern that the interactions and communication in this field will lose its meaning. However, there is the argument that the integration of data will help provide more valuable communication that is based in data and fact.

The next concern with big data is that instinct and intuition will be lost when big data comes along. If there is more data in the mix, many professionals believe that the intuition aspect of PR will not be taken as seriously when there is hard data that proves it otherwise. For example, if the data says that a specific niche community will be good to target, but a PR professional has had experience that the community doesn’t respond well to PR initiatives. It will be difficult to convince clients otherwise when the numbers speak for themselves. However, they need to keep in mind that intuition and instinct need to be put into consideration along with the data they collect.

Another big concern that comes with data collection is the man hours to do so. In order for data collection and social monitoring to be done correctly, there needs to be someone monitoring it at all times. This can obviously be tedious work for something that might not provide a solid answer every time. Next, there would also need to be someone with experience in data analytics to know what to look for and then pull useful facts from this information. With these two concerns in mind, many PR professionals turn to social listening tools or data analysis tools to help them collect and break down the information. Tools like Keyhole and Hootsuite are able to crawl the internet and social media platforms to find what information is useful and then use that information to come up with numbers, charts, and other data. While there still needs to be some understanding of the information and the applications themselves, tools allow for better and easier to understand organization.

In the business world knowledge is power and Public Relations agencies are aware of this. With endless amounts of data that professionals can use to their advantage, the PR field is starting to use data collecting technology to provide more quality work. Even though there are some concerns, professionals are tackling them head on and working to debunk the challenges they face with data integration.

This post was written by Sara at

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