Where to start with data-led storytelling

The media and public at large have an increasing appetite for facts and figures, which add colour and credence to any sort of content. As such, influencers are always after more numbers – but this data must be robust, stand up to scrutiny and be presented in the right way to resonate with audiences.

A growing number of brands are drawing on data-led content to differentiate themselves in the market, drive news and thought leadership, and inform marketing strategies and content marketing. However, while many businesses are doing it, far fewer are doing it well.

Creating and executing data-led content initiatives often involves either investment into internal research programmes and/or external surveys. This needs to be coupled with a deep knowledge of the media landscape, an idea of the type of content of interest to the target audience, and a clear view of the trends driving the news agenda. Without these tools (or the means to wield them effectively), organisations face failure: to gain traction in the media, and to generate ROI from campaign spend. When it comes to research, this can be a costly mistake.

So, what are the three ways in which brands can access and harness data for media relations, content marketing and business intelligence?

  1. Think home grown:

Often the first port of call when finding supporting data for a story angle is external data and surveys. While these have their place, brands are usually sitting on a wealth of hidden data within their very own organisations. Big data is now a reality, and with the introduction of elements such as the internet of things and customer capture information, many companies are collecting a gold mine of data they aren’t even using for their own business intelligence and decision making. The key is to ask questions internally – what sort of data are you looking for? What point are you trying to support with data? Answering these questions will help shed light on what sort of data your company has access to.

  1. Borrow someone else’s:

The world is full of data. Facts and figures pop out at you from every corner, so trying to find a statistic to support a point you are making is relatively simple. Obviously, referencing third-party statistics has its own challenges – given the brand doesn’t own the information, it cannot directly associate itself with the information. But collecting desk-based data and packaging it up, as long as you reference the source, can provide your audience with valuable information all in one place. A great way to do this is visually. This makes referencing easier, as it can be incorporated into the design, so the overall impression of the content is something that a brand has presented.

  1. Discover your own:

Conducting primary research on a subject enables brands to shape exactly what data they are looking for. The data is also ‘yours’, so it can be cut and repurposed in different ways for various channels and situations – be it marketing campaigns or business decision making.  You just need to ensure it is statistically and methodologically sound. A good research partner and project management team can advise on these elements. It’s also good to remember that research projects can be anything from small consumer surveys, to scientific studies with academic partners. Each has different functions and cost implications. As a brand, it’s important to think about the campaign use or purpose, so you can choose the right research type, and one that best fits with your resourcing requirements.

If you are looking to learn more, and discover how the right use of data can drive column inches for brands, stories for content marketing and insights for your business decision making, come along to our ‘Using data to Maximise Media Attention’ event. Babel will be hosting a breakfast panel discussion and workshop with national journalists, experts and influencers, exploring how businesses can effectively present data to the media – be it organic or third-party data – to help inform news stories and features. Visit the events page to register today.

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