The cold hard truth about PR is that no one cares about your company as much as you do. But they might care about your data.
A product update or a new client win isn’t likely to excite anyone, aside from your core trade press if you have a strong relationship with them. However data that tells a wider story about your industry or your audience is likely to be more interesting to more journalists and editors.
Of course, not all data was created equal. An independent survey of 2,000 respondents from a respected name such as YouGov, is always going to attract more attention, but naturally this comes with a cost. It’s likely you have data of your own that could still tell a good story if you use it in the right way.
What data does my business have that I could use for PR?
Most companies have a wealth of data that they’re just not thinking about. If you’ve got a website, and if you’ve got a CRM full of data from your sales team, then you’ve got information that might tell an interesting tale:
Sales and enquiries
You don’t need to give actual numbers, but percentage increases and decreases can show patterns and that’s what you should be looking for. If a particular service or product is overtaking others in terms of popularity (and it’s an indication of the market in general rather than details specific to you), then it could provide a journalist with a useful stat in a wider article. If you can tie your stats into wider events, even better. For example, if you’re a company providing remote working software and enquiries went up when lockdown began, then this might have been a story at the time.
As well as using sales or enquiry stats in your story itself, it can sometimes be useful to include these in your pitch email to a journalist too, to show them that you’re a company that’s growing and someone worth keeping on their radar.
This can come in various forms, from tools or widgets on your site, Site Search data (more on how to use that here), or searches people use to get to your site in the first place. For example, we work with a building society who have a mortgage finding tool on their site. If we found that searches for 90% or 95% deposit mortgages were increasing over higher deposit mortgages, we may be able to draw a correlation to the cost of living crisis and rising house prices.
Data on third parties
Sometimes you may own the data but it tells a story about other companies or products. We work with a financial review platform that has millions of reviews on different companies and products, which is hugely valuable to financial journalists. Or you may be a phone insurance company that has information on how frequently different handset providers and models need repairing that forms advice for consumers considering their next upgrade.
If you have an email database, you could survey your customers on a particular topic, or you could hold a poll on social media. You could even include a few questions in an exit survey on your website. Obviously it can be difficult to get a decent amount of responses with these kinds of surveys and you haven’t got the backing of a reputable research company behind it, but used in the right way it can provide some useful information at little or no cost. You can make this kind of research even more valuable by running the same survey each year and sharing trends.
What should I bear in mind when using my company’s own data for PR?
The most important thing to remember when using your own data, rather than research carried out on your behalf by a third party, is to call it what it is; don’t try and fool anyone with where your stats have come from. Be upfront and honest about what this research is and what it shows. This also means you need to provide the same information you would as any other data, such as when it was gathered and from where.
Of course, as with any research, it still has to show something interesting. Simply having data itself isn’t a story. You need to analyse it and carefully formulate your storylines in the same way. You should also make sure you have a reasonable amount of data to begin with so that you can be sure you’re taking fairly reliable learnings from it.
And finally, as I’ve alluded to, research carried out by a third party on your behalf is always going to hold more weight, because it’s not skewed by your customer base and it’s likely to have a bigger sample base, so do adjust your expectations accordingly. It may be that you don’t get a whole article published on your findings, but instead a stat and a mention from a journalist as part of a wider piece – and that’s still great too.