I remember a time when generating quality coverage and media relationships required getting on a plane for a media tour, a tradeshow, a demo event, or maybe a boozy party. Basically, any excuse to get facetime with a reporter and share your most newsworthy wares. These kinds of boots-on-the-ground media relations activities, of course, were upended by COVID-19. At the same time, the pandemic drove newsroom layoffs and reset our expectations for what was newsworthy. With less time and more news, journalists were forced to raise the bar on how companies can contribute to earned media.
Forget your product news. Forget your momentum stats. Media are looking for information that contributes to the mega issues of the day. Can you help my readers understand and adapt?
It’s a tall order. One we help our clients meet with data storytelling.
This requires credible, current, and unique data shaped to help a reporter see a trend in a new way. Data that only your business could provide – alongside your point of view – to underscore your leadership in the space. Not always easy, but with the right team of analysts and storytellers, it can be done (and done repeatedly) to generate coverage as well as media trust. Lots of brands are doing this but not all well. Like in everything in PR, you have to do it better to rise above the fray.
So why do some succeed where others fail?
They find contradictions.
Your data sheet may be full of justification for current trends, but isn’t it weird that this one part of the market is not following suit? I wonder why? Maybe your subject matter experts have a theory. Lead with the unexpected. What does your data show that might be new or unexpected? Where are the contradictions? If tracked over time, what is shifting and where is this trend headed?
They quantify a problem.
You have built an entire solution to address an industry problem and have talked to hundreds of customers who lament this pain point. But can you prove it with data? Media won’t be interested in your solution alone. But they will be interested in the size of and negative impacts of this problem and that can lead to valuable press.
They make it human.
Give them the human side of the analysis and point them to the conclusions that their readers will be interested in. Attach a thought leader to your pitch who can provide authoritative commentary on what these numbers mean.
They make it easy.
Journalists are already strapped, covering multiple beats and responsibilities, and don’t have time to dig through a data report for the angle. Lay out the most compelling data angles, including why they matter. And then be readily available to provide deeper data and perspective once they are interested.
They act fast.
If you want to be included, you need to act fast. The news cycle is churning faster than ever and stories quickly change, altering journalists’ data needs. Keep a pulse on how a story or trend is evolving and be ready to adjust your data insights to best support the current narrative.
Also, when a reporter asks for a data point, the story nearly done. You’ve done your job of building a reputation as a go-to source on a topic. Now live up to it by being quick to respond with something useful, even if it’s not exactly what they asked for.
They personalize the data.
Journalist needs are going to vary widely. Take the time to understand what each journalist will be most interested in and adjust the data you deliver from there. Not to mention, journalists dread the thought of publishing a story, only to see a nearly identical story publish from a different outlet. Give key journalists portions of your data that are customized and exclusive to their needs and readers.
Their visuals back up the story.
Many reporters, especially from top-tier outlets, will create their own data visualizations and may even have a team devoted to this. However, even if it doesn’t make it into the final article, a visual supporting that surprising data insight will increase the odds of journalists understanding and take notice of your data perspective. On the flip side, there is nothing more frustrating than visuals that don’t progress the understanding of the lead insight and waste space on other background data.
They are timely.
Tie your data to your editorial calendar and timely events/topics that you anticipate coming up. This will not only help you be more proactive vs. reactive in your outreach, but also to better anticipate and prep the data that you might need for each theme, saving you time in the long run.
Our role as data storytellers starts with the raw data. With perspective on trends and media interests, your audiences and goals, we can identify data-driven insights within your existing data. Or, guide you to pull data that might shine a light on a newsworthy topic. As partners in the data and then the story and content creation, we guide our clients towards media coverage and relationships that overcome the challenges of today’s media landscape and limitations driven by the pandemic.