How Big Data is Changing PR

This is a guest post by Michele Nemschoff, Vice President, Corporate Marketing, MapR Technologies
connectionResearch and measurement: the long standing bane of any PR pro with a limited budget and a tactically focused boss or client. Better research and measurement tools have long been needed and called for to better cater messages to key audiences, respond to crises, and evaluate the effectiveness of a campaign.

Imagine the difference between showing your boss a stack of news clippings and a long list of Facebook likes or instead being able to show the upward trend of sales that’s connected to all or even part of the elements of a PR campaign.

Imagine being able to pull up the amount of coverage a crisis situation is generating across all media and social spectrums and being able to determine whether the trend indicates the crisis will die that day or will continue to grow and require intervention.

This is what Big Data can do for PR.

What is Big Data?

When you hear the term Big Data, it sounds overly complex and yet too simple at the same time. After all, we’ve been using data for years, from Google Analytics to monitoring customer purchasing trends, so how is Big Data different?

For the most part when we’ve looked at data in the past, we’ve only had one or two limited data sets to look at and compare. This seems rather limited given that every day we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data.This data comes from everywhere: sensors used to gather climate information, posts to social media sites, digital pictures and videos, click-streams, purchase transaction records and cell phone GPS signals.

However, Big Data is more than simply a matter of size and variety of data; it presents an opportunity to find insights by integrating new and emerging types of data and content quickly – even often in real-time – to answer questions that were previously considered beyond your reach.

Big Data’s Uses

Big Data has the potential to change the way PR is done and make public relations a more encompassing aspect of managing a company. Here’s just three ways how:

1.  A New Way to Tell Stories
Many PR pros have been stuck trying to generate news content based on a tiny survey or focus groups because the company simply didn’t have the funds to complete a true quantitative research project. With access to Big Data, PR pros can tell a story based on real consumer trends and real data. Not only will journalists appreciate a story pitch with excellent research behind it, but PR pros may discover something truly new that will be useful both to themselves and others.

2. Adjust Messaging and Respond to Public Trends
Wouldn’t it be great to know when a certain hashtag will be trending again or to be able to identify what spurs a negative reaction to your company or industry? With Big Data, PR pros can analyze what has caused a trend in the past and be able to predict when it will occur again. Big Data can also help PR pros adjust messaging based on the trends they find, and more effectively generate interest in a product by analyzing which audience to target first.

3. Master that Budgeting Meeting
The PR industry acknowledges the importance of measuring success and determining its influence on ROI, which is why top PR software services include basic and advanced media analyses to determine whether your campaign was successful. Quantifying the effectiveness of your media campaign is not solely limited to driving sales and encompasses more than just counting media impressions. Today’s PR professional is looking beyond positive and negative associations with a client’s brand and delving more into understanding buyer intentions and other non-branded topical conversations.

Getting Started

Since the introduction of social media, media data has grown exponentially.  This poses a unique challenge to media companies looking to capture all types of data, but needs it to be cost-effective, while ensuring scalability and reliability. Now, with Big Data platforms like Hadoop becoming available to help companies store, analyze and provide meaning insights, companies can quickly offer innovative products and services in order to stay ahead of the competition.