Opinion | Why human-driven analysis can enable data-driven communication

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Public relations and corporate communications are moving towards becoming data-driven business disciplines, writes Tan Sukhera. But in the drive towards making data-based decisions, many organizations are missing a crucial piece – the ability and willingness to identify and analyze the right data that’s actually relevant to assessing which activities drive actual business results. Studies show that modern communications leaders who are mindful of this, experience a game-changer when it comes to building strategies, understanding their audiences, and achieving their objectives.

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Generic data leaves blind spots

Most companies rely on the default settings and metrics from media monitoring platforms and attempt to draw strategic conclusions from these rather generic data points. This one-size-fits-all approach yields broad overviews but often misses the critical insights that truly move the needle. According to a recent industry survey, 67 per cent of communications professionals find the generic analytics provided by monitoring tools to be inadequate for strategic decision-making. Further, according to industry research, a staggering 70 per cent of PR and communications professionals say the hardest part of their job is proving the value of their efforts.

This limitation frustrates leaders aiming to cement the salience of their thought leadership with elite audiences like C-suite executives. Yes, mentions in major publications create brand awareness, but the real impact comes from tailored visibility in the niche industry platforms and trade publications these decision-makers (and their customers) actively engage with.

The solution: tailored, enhanced and actionable insights

As an alternative to the standard, generic approach, it is now possible to derive enriched communications intelligence by combining the available data with experienced human analysis.  This human perspective, combined with a hyper-customized lens, can provide clearer direction when applied to dissecting media monitoring and social listening flows, and assessing it against other related data, such as sales, website traffic, online campaigns, human resource data or any other data which may be relevant.

One result is the ability to quantify a brand’s true influence within key audience verticals. Integrating multiple data sources – from web traffic to CRM – can illuminate how communications strategies directly impact tangible business metrics like sales and revenue. For one B2B financial services leader, our analysts’ custom-built perception scoring approach revealed their communications had been drastically under-valued by conventional metrics. By surfacing their powerful influence trajectory within priority C-suite circles, we could empower data-driven investment in this high-impact channel. 

An elevated intelligence workflow

Having experienced human analysts enriching your intelligence is more than just robust reporting. It’s an accessible workflow providing continuous strategic guidance in a number of ways:

Narrative modeling – Experts can map the core audience narratives most pivotal to the brand’s objectives, providing consultative recommendations on messaging aimed at shaping or shifting critical mindsets and behaviors.

Opportunity illumination – By identifying gaps or “white spaces” in your communications efforts, new opportunities emerge that could turbocharge your impact among overlooked or emerging high-value segments. 

Course correction – Armed with enriched visibility, it then becomes possible to proactively adapt messaging narratives based on evolving insights into the cultural currents and perception dynamics shaping your markets.

Executive enlightenment – The “So what?” factor for leadership can then be addressed by vividly demonstrating how your communications endeavors quantifiably impact business performance using metrics tailored to resonate with the C-suite.

A consultative, road-mapped approach

Through collaborative consultation and strategic workshops, objectives are solidified, SMART goals are clearly refined, while existing data sources and efficacy are also evaluated. This can lead to the creation of a roadmap and serve as the basis of an enriched intelligence program tailored to your specific requirements.

Comprehensive reports and strategic guidance can further ensure communications strategies remain agile, data-driven, and primed to maximize impact.

Accelerated agility

In the era of digital acceleration, having dedicated analysts providing nuanced, prescriptive guidance can elevate communications from a support function to a compelling force of informed market agility. 

The future belongs to those who evolve beyond simplistic monitoring and dedicate resources toward enriched intelligence. By deploying dedicated analysts who can elevate your communications to newfound heights of narrative mastery, you can move the communications function from a cost center, to a revenue generating powerhouse.

Tan Sukhera is CEO and co-founder of Piar, a New York based consultancy focused on data and reporting. He’s Cision and Meltwater alumnus, helping communications leaders prove the impact of their efforts.