It’s something every PR professional faces at one time or another — gaps in the marketing cycle where it seems that absolutely nothing is going on. There are no new product releases, no customer announcements or events, no trade shows. There is seemingly nothing to reach out to the media with. It’s almost as if you have to create your own news to get coverage. And, actually, that is a pretty good idea.
When your company is in a slow news cycle, or you are just looking for new reasons to stay in touch and relevant with your colleagues in the media, data storytelling can help get you over the hump — and potentially create an ongoing channel of news for your company.
Why is Getting Media Coverage So Difficult?
It can be hard to catch the attention of reporters even when you DO have news. In fact, 47% of reporters and editors say they receive more than 10 pitches a day, and nearly 10% receive more than 50! How do we know that? Because a company did a survey of journalists that asked this very question. (We’ve heard stories of reporters at really large outlets that receive more than 100 pitches a day.)
Pitching a reporter can be a bit of a numbers game — the more pitches they receive, the less likely yours will stand out, or even get opened. You need to differentiate your company not only in the pitch, but in the subject line as well. One way that can help get your email opened is telling the reporter something they may not already know — and backing it up with numbers.
Of course, everyone loves numbers, but to get a reporter’s attention, you need interesting data. For example, it’s not really newsworthy to read what percentage of people use social media today. It is much more interesting to read about the percentage of people that have gotten into an argument with friends or family over what they have posted or read on social media. Enter data-driven storytelling.
What is Data-Driven Storytelling?
Data-driven storytelling, quite simply, is using cultivated numbers and statistics to tell a story. Having access to data can help you craft stories that other companies simply can’t tell, or aren’t telling because they’re not being creative with their marketing strategy.
Data-driven storytelling can position your company as one that adds value to the industry. Instead of just asking a reporter to cover your news, you’re providing information that is valuable to them, and that they can use in a variety of ways (and hopefully some of those ways involve your company).
So, how do you get access to this data? Let’s look at two ways data can be collected and cultivated.
- Original research. This is the most difficult data to collect because you need access to an “audience” from which to gather information. This audience can be a customer base or user group, a Twitter audience, respondents picked by a third-party survey firm, or other source. Original research is interesting because it allows you to gather data on topics where there might not be a lot of information. Because you “own” the questions from this survey, you have more control over what’s being asked of the audience. You can frame questions and the answer sets in ways that will be most compelling to reporters, and to your customer base at large.
- Aggregated third-party data. Many companies do not have access to a group of respondents, and therefore can’t survey them to gather data. Another way to collect information for data storytelling is by aggregating data from multiple sources. A good example of this is the “Data Never Sleeps” infographic compiled annually by business intelligence firm Domo. Using stats from companies such as Instagram, Spotify, Venmo and other digital firms, the infographic shows what happens in an “Internet Minute.” For example, did you know that Netflix users stream 404,444 hours of content every minute? Now you do, thanks to data storytelling.
Presenting the Data
One thing to keep in mind when telling your story through data: Pitching reporters and editors doesn’t need to be the only way you share your data. You can also:
- Create a press release announcing the most salient points of your data and put it on the wire with a graphic
- Develop an infographic that uses individual data points to tell an overall story. Bonus points if you can pull it apart and make each piece of data stand on its own, like Domo does with its Data Never Sleeps infographic. That makes it much easier to socialize
- Use social channels to help spread the word, using hashtags to help guide your audience to share
Here’s a checklist that’s helped us land our clients’ data in some of the biggest daily and business publications:
- Is your data unique and unexpected?
- Can you show a contrarian trend?
- Is it relevant to what the media is reporting on now?
- Does the story you’re telling tie back to your business?
The data you compile doesn’t have to tick all those boxes, but it helps. So, what stories are you eager to tell with data? If you want to explore how to grab media attention through data storytelling, DM me for a free 30-minute call.