A strategic approach to public relations
Too many companies worldwide still don’t communicate on a well structured strategic base. They start PR activities quite spontanously, whenever there is a new product or – even worse – whenever the boss makes a remark that it’s about time to read his own name in a newspaper. But – there is so much long-term potential in PR, if only a strategic concept outlines the targets, the messages and the possible activities, based on a well planned schedule. It’s an often disregarded fact: Companies do need a content strategy. This is, where big data may come into play.
Big data PR as a part of the storytelling concept
Where should all the content come from, that forms the base of a strategic communications concept nowadays? Which stories can modern companies tell? One of the most important sources is: big data. As a by-product of the advanced digitalization, there exist big amounts of data, generated by nearly all economic processes. Be it the communication with the customer, be it sales figures or market research: companies nowadays have a very detailed knowledge that is suitable for utilization in PR – if some important rules are observed.
Big data is rational – but still needs creativity
If you want to unlock the power of your data, it starts with a creative idea. Usually, you need some distance to your core business in order to discover, which of your data makes up a relevant topic for the public agenda. That’s why the first impulse often comes from an agency that is experienced in putting up corporate stories successfully. They need a detailed impression of the available information and will then draft a plan, that will seemlessly integrate into the mentioned strategic concept. And if there is none, a good agency will even help you to put one up – but that’s another story.
Fixed routines are indispensable
How can you extract a good story out of your data in practice?
- After the briefing, the company’s data mining department will deliver large excel sheets.
- The legal department, of course, has to give green light that all the data are anonymized correctly and suitable for distribution.
- Then, like a truffle pig, the PR guys will go through the raw data and identify surprising or otherwise relevant facts.
- When they have drafted the facts and the messages, corporate governance has to approve the campaign and then: go for it!
Talk about the market and be perceived as trustworthy expert
When companies give statements about the development of the markets and the customer’s needs, they nearly automatically get perceived as experts, or even as market leaders. This is the mechanism the German IPRN agency TDUB made use of for its client, mobile service provider mobilcom-debitel, part of the freenet group and the biggest player behind the three net carriers. For the means of technical service and financial accounting, mobilcom-debitel keeps record of the usage of telecommunications of all its customers. So, they could analyse a seven-digit number of mobile phone contracts – strictly anonymized, of course, and legally approved.
Highly relevant data for the media
If you can evaluate the behaviour of millions of people and derive significant conclusions from it, the results are highly relevant for journalists. mobilcom-debitel provides reliable facts on the use of smartphones in Germany, categorized by sex, age, device, region and many more. How long does an average phone call take? Do young people really download more data? Which city has the biggest share of iPhone users? With this campaign, mobilcom-debitel could gain a media reach of 26 million in print newspapers and business magazines and 116 million online page impressions within the last two years. And that includes the first ever infographic printed as lead story on the front page of the biggest daily Berlin newspaper.
Noticeable brand effects by big data
In the end, mobilcom-debitel could establish a further PR channel besides of the mere tariff’s product information. They managed to transport their brand value “independent aide for the consumer” into a big part of the German consumer media. As a reward for the effort, this big data PR project by mobilcom-debitel and TDUB was now elected on the shortlist of the renown German PR Report Award 2019. And – additonally – we were nominated for the shortlist of the European Excellence Award.
International perspectives: excellent
For companies that are globally active, big data may bear an enormous potential for strategic communications. These companies can break down their global content into local campaigns and thus appear as a trustworthy and relevant brand. What is more entertaining than the examination of prejudices and the international comparison of human behaviour? If you need some inspirations for putting up a big data PR campaign, don’t hesitate to get in contact with your local IPRN partner agency.
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This is the long version of an article by Karsten Hoppe and Tilo Timmermann, Managing Directors of TDUB Communications Consultancy, first published on the blog of our International PR Agencies Network IPRN.
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