#InnovateNow With RaeAnn Pickett: Dive Into Data

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The proliferation of owned media. The democratization of voice through social. Media’s evolving landscape. New ways to accurately measure and track PR’s value.

The PR and social media landscapes have changed so much in such a short period of time. While some may see that as daunting, many have relished the new opportunities it presents and innovated methods for connecting with target audiences.

To celebrate the launch of two innovative products Cision Social Edition and Cision PR Edition, we have scheduled a series of Q&As featuring some of the finest innovators in our field. Up next is RaeAnn Pickett.

RaeAnn has experience in the corporate and nonprofit communication worlds, serving most recently as the senior national communications manager for Young Invincibles. She also worked promoting the National Collections of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and is a graduate of the DCI War Room.

​​How do you innovate PR? Tell us in our #InnovateNow Hashtag Sweepstakes for a chance to win a GoPro. (Deadline May 12) Click here for details!

Without further ado, here are RaeAnn’s answers to how public relations has changed and how she has innovated in this space:

How has PR changed over the last five years?

Traditional public relations and social media have become integrated over the last five years, to the point where social platforms and the data they provide are now necessary tools for elevating client needs and issue areas.

When I first got into communications, social media was met with “Oh, so you Facebook all day. What’s your real job?” Now, it’s so much more than that, as the metrics social platforms offer allow a more scientific approach to addressing communication needs.

Analytics and data provide support to better inform clients on how to strategize to meet their goals. Not to mention, engaging reporters and thought leaders on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook has made pitching and relationship building more efficient.

PR professionals no longer are in a position where they have to annoy journalists by sending unnecessary pitches they can’t use. A wealth of information is now at our fingertips, and it’s up to us to use it correctly. Reporters know that. Clients respect that.

What are the biggest trends in the industry today? How do they help you innovate?

I’m a huge believer in social media and data/research to help boost campaigns. PR doesn’t operate in a vacuum and these integrated campaigns couldn’t be better for professionals and clients alike. Being able to see a problem, crisis or campaign from a bird’s-eye view and understand the need to use different tactics to help get a win is invaluable.

For instance, geo-targeting through digital ads enables communication professionals to target our message to a very specific audience, but it also allows us to solicit feedback on what people want and like. Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and even Spotify and Pandora all offer some type of this service which provides tangible data to clients so they know more about their audience by the end of the ad buy than they did when it began.

Maybe your tactic is to target specific ads to Latino millennials who live in Nevada about water conservation. If your ads ask the audience to take a specific action or tell you how strongly they feel about the topic, you could take that data and make the case that your client place an op-ed in the Las Vegas Sun Times calling on lawmakers to take a stand to protect water there. The data from the ads help you decide exactly what your message should be and exactly how to get it across.

Can you tell us about the most innovative PR project you’ve worked on?

One of the most innovative clients I work with is Dog Tag Bakery, a social enterprise that consists of a holistic education program embedded in a fully functioning bakery operation for military veterans and their caregivers. Program participants learn how to run a business while earning a certificate in business administration over the course of several months as they transition back into civilian life.

It’s been an incredible experience, and our approach to working with the bakery is as innovative as their business model. Through a combination of social and earned media, we engage local and national thought leaders on the issues to help drive foot traffic to the bakery, which is in the Georgetown neighborhood of Northwest Washington, D.C.

We’ve connected with bloggers, local and national television networks, online media, print publications and other outlets to help drive a 33 percent increase in sales to the bakery that directly correlates with the timing of our media hits. It’s been a unique opportunity to see exactly how earned media can help a company’s bottom line.

What are some lessons or best practices PR pros can take away from your most innovative campaign?

Remain open-minded. Always challenge yourself to think differently, to innovate new approaches to campaign strategies. Don’t shy away from numbers, as data is the linchpin for proof. Reporters like facts, figures and charts almost as much as they like a warm-fuzzy story and it’s up to you to see how you can give them that.

Go through a checklist of social media analytics, sales data, polling and any other research you find, then make it work for you in a creative way to bring your point home. Your clients will be happy and you’ll have a better relationship with your media contacts because of it.

Want to see our other innovators? Click here!

About Brian Conlin

Brian Conlin is a content marketing manager for Cision. A former journalist, he enjoys researching and developing accessible content. When not writing, you will find him watching baseball and college basketball, sampling craft beer and enjoying Baltimore. Find him on Twitter @BrianConlin13.

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