June 02, 2016 / by Guest Contributor

Data was a hot topic at the 2016 PRSA Strategic Collaboration Conference. Communication professionals and influencers spoke about what data is important, how to humanize data and what to do with it once you have it.

Bonnie Harris, CEO of Wax Marketing, spoke about the necessity of understanding consumers’ behaviors over demographics, one of 10 topics at the conference.

In case you missed the event, here are five takeaways from Harris’s presentation on why it’s important to start incorporating behavioral data into the mix:

1. Break Down Silos

Traditional communication strategies have taught us to understand our target consumer demographics. This made perfect sense when peers were limited to family, friends and coworkers – anyone we interacted with face-to-face on a daily basis.

In the age of review sites and blogs, we now have access to share and consume candid feedback and experiences with peers all over the world, which is influencing consumer behaviors in a whole new way.

2. Improves Customer Experience

Tailored messaging toward your customer’s behavior will result in more genuine communication. The work you put into listening to their needs and catering to their lifestyle and personal preferences will be well received.

In her blog post,Behavior Is the New Black,” Harris highlights the success of Warby Parker’s communication strategy which focused on the people’s behaviors.

3. Test & Measure


Whenever trying out a new data method, it’s important to test, measure and reflect. You may not have hit the nail on the head with the initial behavior-based tracking and pitching.

Harris stressed the importance of iterative measurement to save yourself from going too far down a wrong path. Take a look at the success of your strategy and adjust.

4. Pitch Smart, Not Hard

Harris discussed the impact of using these same behavior-based principles and understanding the behaviors of the media you’re pitching. For example, if you’re pitching a morning television reporter, cater to her behavior and start your day when she starts hers, likely before the sun comes up.

Create tailored subject lines and links based on who you are pitching and how these contacts curated content in the past. Find out how a media contact found their last news angle and try to mirror that approach.


5. More useful information

Demographic questions, in nature, can be invasive. An individual is more likely to voluntarily offer up more information about their behavior and personal preferences than answer a direct question about their marital status or household income. These can be uncomfortable questions and don’t require more than a one-word response.

You’ll gain more insightful information about why consumers do what they do by following their behavior.

The presenters at the PRSA Strategic Collaboration Conference highlighted various public relations, marketing and communication strategies to share and open conversation with professionals from across the U.S.

Katherine is a client development account manager at Cision. Katherine has a bachelor’s degree in advertising & public relations from the University of Illinois. She can be found in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood trying new restaurants and spending as much time outside as possible.


Images via Pixabay: 1, 2

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