How to map data to storytelling

How to map data to storytelling

Just because the amount of data available to communicators is growing, it does not guarantee that all PR professionals automatically glean actionable insights from using it.

A joint survey of 400 global communicators by Cision and PRWeek found that nearly 70% believe that they do not have enough data or analytics to properly attribute how their earned media programmes impacted key financial and business results.

It also found that 72% of those asked felt that they needed to improve their understanding of the demographic, sociographic and psychographic profiles of their audiences, while 75% said that they needed to do better at measuring and proving their impact on business objectives.

The challenge for communicators is to transition from traditional metrics, such as reach, impressions and content performance, to metrics used to measure business performance, including revenue growth, leads generated and shopping cart conversions.

So what is the best way to leverage data to produce insights which can help to improve your campaigns?

Chris Lynch, CMO at Cision, has developed a system which enables communicators to map data to key creative storytelling techniques. Known as the “three pillars of storytelling”, the system allows PR professionals to understand how to exploit the data now available to them to power their creative campaigns.

Pillar one: Be human


Relevant data: Demographic, behavioural, past purchases, product preference

Despite advances in machine-learning and automated content development, great stories that have major economic or social impact are still consumed by real people.

As a result, it’s important to work with specific audience data that helps you understand who they are. This data isn’t about what they say; it’s about what they do.

Pillar two: Be emotive


Relevant data: Sentiment, affinity, psychographic

People are emotive. Social media has created a scenario where humans have started publishing those emotions with fewer barriers to entry than the old days of print publishing. When crafting a story leveraging this pillar, we’re talking less about what people do and more about what they say.

The social networks can be helpful for this. For consumer B2C brands and retailers, Instagram and Facebook reign supreme. B2B marketers are starting to glean a lot of insights of this kind from LinkedIn and Twitter.

Pillar three: Be original


Relevant data: Competitive data, industry vertical data, trending topics.

Originality represents the biggest challenge in 21st century storytelling. That’s because, well, so many stories have been told at this point in human history. Proof of this has permeated the dramatic arts. Hollywood is doing constant remakes from movies 20, 30 and 40 years old. Theatre is copying movies now (didn’t it used to be other way around?).

To be original, you need to look at data even more intuitively. These data points are as much about what people are not saying. Start with your competitors, but timeliness is also vitally important here. Often, the originality or freshness of a story will very much depend on the timeliness.


You can find out more about how to use data to power your storytelling in out latest white paper Combining art and science in effective communications. Fill out the form below to download your copy.

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