Data Driven PR: 8 Steps to Building Media Attention with Research


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Do you want to learn how your internal data can be used to gain media coverage in The New York Times, USA Today, and Mashable? Or how a simple consumer survey can lead to hundreds of new leads for your business?

Learn how in this presentation from Mike Santoro, President of tech PR firm Walker Sands, and Andrea Kempfer, Director of Marketing at market research firm Lab42.

The recorded presentation can be viewed at:

Published in: Marketing, Business, Education
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  • A lot of clients approach us and ask for our help getting them into USA Today, New York Times, TechCrunch, etc… That’s not too hard when you are launching, announcing funding, or about the become the next thing.But what happens in a post launch world when you still need continued visibility to compete? It can be very difficult for a great ERP solution or a cyber security company to continue to appear in top tier media without doing something big. So what’s the answer?The answer is data. Data that tells your story.
  • At Lab42, we use a lot of data to get the word out and generate press. We’ve been featured in lots of great places, ranging from Mashable to eMarketer. We’ve done this by conducting our own surveys and creating a press campaign out of a press release and infographic, focusing on one big headline and the supporting stats that round out the story.And while we recommend creating your own insights to tell your story, you may be sitting on your own data. Poll Q – What device do you have (blackberry, iphone, android, other)
  • We worked with OkCupid to conduct a study, but they also garnered their own press by putting their own data to work. By running a cross tab on nearly 10,000 OkCupid users, they discovered that iPhone owners have more sex than Android and Blackberry users.
  • They packaged this headline up and created a blog post about it. They received tremendous press coverage and you can see a spike in blog traffic they received. They received tremendous press coverage on the data that they already had. FastCompany, Mashable, even the Freakanomics blog covered their data.This was done with data they already had in hand, but if you’re not sitting on data yet, you can get the same results by generating your own data (more on that later).
  • And you don’t have to be some hip B2C company in order to take advantage of main stream data releases. ThreatMetrix is a cybercrime prevention platform. Basically it’s software that keeps banks and retail sites safe from cyber criminals. So these guys have a lot of data about where cyber crime is originating from. We packaged that up into the 2013 ThreatMetrix Top Cities for Online Fraud report.
  • The results were terrific. 75 placements, many in major business publications like Reuters and the Chicago Tribune. We even had some TV pickup in strategic markets.But more importantly it led to results. We saw a 91% increase in web traffic and a big increase in leads.Poll Q– Are you sitting on any data that you can use in 2014?
  • Hopefully you believe us by now when we share the power of data. Admittedly it’s not all that easy, but if you follow these steps you can duplicate these excellent results.
  • Just like ThreatMetrix and OkCupid had data. Start there. (if you said no to survey) Are you collecting data on customers behaviors that might be interesting to the general population. Maybe you see something on your web servers that would be surprising? Or maybe you’ve actually compiled research in the past for a sales presentation that you never really shared outside that deck. You’d be surprised at how much interesting data we find simply by sifting through a client’s old PPT presentations.If you don’t have data think about executing a survey. You can do everything from paying $50,000 for a Forrester or Ponemon study to paying $5,000 for a Lab42 10 question consumer study. There are very affordable ways to gather data once you decide what you want. (It would be great to have a Lab42 price point here that hits home affordability, but I don’t want to underprice you.) And even if you don’t want to pay for a study there are ways of surveying your audiences that will just take some sweat equity.And that’s a good place to talk about building your own data vs. buying it via survey.When we worked with Threatmetrix to gather the city data it was free, but it wasn’t easy. We had to work with a few developers to obtain the data and then some front end people to analyze it and make it ready for human consumption. That’s a lot of time for internal people normally focused on client work to dedicate to a marketing effort. So realize that upfront.Compare that to a survey in which you simply have to pay someone like Lab42 to execute and you have a reason why we typically do a lot more survey execution than internal research projects.
  • When you’re starting with a headline and formulating a topic for your survey, do some research to find out what’s already been covered. If someone has already covered your topic and received press, think about how you can add a unique perspective. Or if the topic has been covered to death and you can’t provide a unique angle, don’t feel bad about skipping it. You don’t have to jump on every bandwagon. It’s more important to devote time and resources on topics where you can showcase your expertise. If you have a general topic in mind, and you’re starting to narrow it down, your goal should be two-fold: generate a story that is 1) newsworthy for press and 2) compelling for your target audience. Make sure your headline aligns with your core messaging..Once you have your topic narrowed down, your target audience will probably become clearer. If you’re trying to get press for your client who’s a large pet store, like Petco or PetSmart, and you decide to conduct a study on pet costumes. You know you would need to talk to pet owners, but more specifically, pet owners who purchase costumes for their pets. Maybe you’d want to go so far as to target those who shop at your client’s store on a regular basis. (include “mass merchandise retailer”)When you’re thinking of who to target in your survey, make sure you’re reaching an unbiased consumer base who will answer your questions honestly. If you’re only surveying friends, family and acquaintances from social media, you may not get the most honest feedback. --Start by determining what will be most interesting to your target audience. B2B companies are most interested in two types of research. Number 1: What are my customer’s customers thinking? Number 2: How do I stack up against my competitors?In the first case we do a lot of surveys of consumers to determine things like retail purchasing trends or of corporate executives to determine IT purchasing behaviors. In the second case we’ll look at an industry list and find some sort of interesting comparison, such as ranking the InternetRetail 500 by mobile device accessibility.This demands that you identify the right audience to poll. In general, it’s much easier and cheaper to survey a group of consumers, such as young mom’s than it is to survey a group of corporate execs such as IT professionals.From here you should start developing interesting headlines that you think might be revealed with a survey. Things like, “75% of new moms get less than 4 hours of sleep each night” or “3 in 4 IT execs plan to move corporate email to the cloud in the next year.” These pretend headlines will drive the questions you ask.It would be wise to see what’s out there because you 1. want to make sure it’s not already been done. And 2. you want to see if some of your upfront assumptions make sense. You don’t want to assume you have a great headline in the ideation phase, only to find when you survey people that it’s the exact opposite of what you hoped to find. Do your homework when you are writing those headlines.Finally, ask yourself if the “interesting” headlines reflect well on the core message you are trying to put out. In the end that’s the most critical thing. You want media coverage, yes, but you want that media coverage to drive behavior that is positive to your brand.
  • It may sound tedious but do yourself a favor and start by writing down your research objectives. Sure, you want to generate buzz, but going deeper, what are you hoping to get out of your press hits? Awareness for your brand? Traffic to your website or blog? Leads from prospective clients? This first step will ensure that each question in your survey serves a purpose. Once you have your research objectives written down, you’re ready to brainstorm questions for your survey. Whether you write the survey or you have a third-party write it, make sure you ask enough questions on a variety of topics. You don’t want to “bank” on results of one question to create your headline. Often, the best headlines are developed from results that come as a surprise to you. So for example, Thanksgiving is coming up. Let’s say you want to get a sense of consumers’ cooking habits in the kitchen—what they are cooking, how they find their recipes. There’s a lot of material there, but think of how you can get surprising insights from them. To show an example… (poll question asking: Have you ever gone to a party and passed off a store-bought item as something you made from scratch? (Recent example from StarKist)Lastly, don’t forget demographic questions, such as age, gender, marital status, employment status, etc. These will be especially important when you start digging into the results. -------Now that you have your pretend headlines, you can start writing questions. If you hope to find that 75% of HR Managers are concerned about Obamacare, then you need to ask the question first. Hope for the best, but assume that you might not get that exact stat you were hoping for.Since that’s the case, you will want to have multiple questions around a given topic. Many times the best headlines come from an unexpected source. We’ll still publish the data gained from the big question we asked, but the supporting questions can provide something really rich. You’re really looking for ONE good headline in your survey. Then you let the rest of the data support that, but without a good hook you just have a bunch of data.When you write your questions use good ethical survey methodology. You may be tempted to write questions to impact the outcome. Don’t do it. You need good clean data and reporters will ask to see if you’ve created any survey bias based on the way you’ve written your questions. Get caught putting out bad data and it’ll be the last opportunity you have to put out data.And don’t forget your basic demographic questions on age, gender, income, geographic location, etc…
  • When you receive your survey results, give yourself time to sort through it. Don’t rush yourself to find your headline right away. Something may jump out at you—and make a note of it!—but keep digging, keep reading, keep digesting. Enjoy the process of discovery. And don’t be afraid to dig deeper. A great way to do this is with a crosstab. A crosstab is statistical analysis of subgroups within a survey, allowing you to slice and dice the data by gender, age, and any other demographic category that’s important to your specific study. You may discover compelling differences between men and women or Millennials and Baby Boomers, which can drive a new headline or create supporting stats in your pitch. Finalize your headline: By taking your time with the survey results and digging deeper with crosstabs, you may find a more compelling headline that what you originally envisioned. (Facebook study) Last year, we ran a study on consumers’ Facebook ‘liking’ habits. We expected to generate a headline based on the main reasons consumers ‘like’ brands and products on Facebook. But what we found resonated with the press was the fact that half of consumers find a brand’s Facebook page more useful than the company’s website. Several outlets picked up our research (and accompanying infographic) with that headline, including Mashable and Hubspot’s blog. (possible opportunity here for a poll question: which do you find more useful? A) a brand’s Facebook page B) a brand’s website)Poll Q3 – Which do you find more useful (facebook page or website)-----When you get the data back it will be overwhelming. Sort through the data question by question looking for the big headline. Sometimes the data comes back exactly as you planned it. Often it doesn’t, but if you’ve done a good job structuring your questions you will come back with at least one solid headline. Use the demographic questions you’ve asked to cross tab your responses. Perhaps you have a wide disparity between how men and women answered a certain question? Maybe junior staffers differ from how C-suite executives responded? That data can be incredibly useful and should be teased out to determine if that’s the headline you want to lead with.With Empathica we did a survey of 12,000 consumers and found that when the US economy soured, women cut back spending much more dramatically then men did. Use that headline and then let the rest of the data be supporting points to tell your story.
  • Data projects are a great way to drive traffic back to your website and capture contact information. If you have a robust enough study consider creating a whitepaper with the full findings of the research and recommendations on what do with these findings. Put it behind a contact form wall and you’ve now got a way to build a data base of prospects. We did this with a Cisco partner campaign and it netted 500 new leads. YesMail put together a whitepaper on Customer Segmentation that generated 400 leads. That’s really powerful stuff.In addition you should create media that supports your message. Blogs love when you can send them visualization of the data beyond text. People are beginning to complain that there are way too many infographics out there, but until people stop preferring data visualization to text they are going to be around.Andrea to bring in infographics changing and adapting You might also consider filming a shot video or if you are feeling ambitious creating an entire multimedia presentation around the findings. Walker Sands does a quarterly report on mobile traffic and we film a short 30 second video on an iPhone to explain the findings to anyone who doesn’t want to read.
  • You’ve got data, you’ve got your supporting materials to point back to. Now you just have to find the right media to cover it. Ideally you’ve had your eye on the perfect outlets for this news since before you started writing the questions. Now it’s time to pitch it.Be sure to pull out the most interesting headline and lead with that. Put it in your subject line and make it clear that this came from a data study. We like to use an email subject line that says something like: “STUDY: 80% of Employees Currently Bringing Their Own Device”. Make it clear you have a study and that it has something interesting to say.At Walker Sands we want our pitches to give reporters all the information in as short of space as possible. Reporters appreciate easily scannable pitches. While you want to keep your pitch as concise as possible, this might be one of the few times to include a lot of information. Again, lead with the biggest piece of news, but bullet out 4-5 other stats that you think would be of interest to that particular reporter. Often times the reporter will latch onto one of those secondary points, ask for additional data around it and then write up a full story.If you don’t give them that data in the first place they’ll never know it exists.
  • Don’t forget to promote your research via your other marketing channels. Send it out in your customer newsletter, post to your website, share on your Facebook page, and write a blog post all about it. If it’s applicable toss it into your sales presentations.If you are feeling ambitious wrap it up in a webinar as an extension of the whitepaper you created. We had Acquity Group, a company that does eCommerce design and technology, do a webinar that shared the fundings of their brand eCommerce audit and several Fortune 500 companies showed up to see where they ranked and how they could improve. Those were great follow up calls to make to prospects they were very interested in speaking with.
  • Finally, don’t forget to measure all these things to find out what works and what doesn’t. If you don’t measure, you can’t improve.At this point we’ve gone through this process over 100 times and we know what works and what doesn’t. but even with all our best practices we still occcasionally do a study that gets less traffic than we expect or alternatively that gets a ton more coverage than we expect. Because we are measuring the source of traffic and the conversion rate we can sometimes test and find new effective strategies.At a basic level you want to make sure you are measuring media placements and social shares to see how much your brand is out there. But you also need to be measuring the traffic it’s delivering to your web page, the site conversions such as whitepaper downloads that it’s creating, and the overall impact on the business.Then when your boss asks you if PR is working you can have an actual answer.
  • Data Driven PR: 8 Steps to Building Media Attention with Research

    1. 1. Data Driven Public Relations: 8 Steps to Building Media Attention with Quantitative Research
    2. 2. About the Presenters Mike Santoro Andrea Kempfer President, Walker Sands @michaelsantoro Director of Marketing , Lab42 @AndreaKempfer
    3. 3. “I Need Mainstream Credibility”
    4. 4. “I’d say that in OkCupid’s case, it’s not just about owning proprietary content, but rather exploiting proprietary content - that is what is the key. We had had the content for years and years, but not until late 2009 did we really figure out how to exploit it.” - Sam Yagan, CEO, m
    5. 5. Results “Houston ranked No.8 for online fraud” “Second City third in cybercrime” 75 Media Placements +91% in Web Traffic
    6. 6. The 8 Steps to Building Media Attention with Quantitative Research
    7. 7. Step Pick the Data Source Start by searching through your own data Consider executing a survey 1 Weigh the costs of internal vs. external data
    8. 8. Formulate Your Hypothesis Headline Ask Yourself... What’s already out there? Who Should I ask? What will be compelling to my target audience and newsworthy to press? Step 2
    9. 9. Ask the Right Questions to the Right People Write down your research objectives Ask a variety of questions Gather demographic information Step 3
    10. 10. Dive Right Into Your Results! Dig deeper with crosstabs Digest the results Finalize your headlines Step 4
    11. 11. Step Create Supporting Media Visualize Data /Infographic Downloadable Content 5 Video / Multimedia Presentation
    12. 12. Step Pick the Right Story for the Right Audience 6 Pitch the right story to the right reporter Share the most interesting point right away It’s ok to share more data than you might be naturally inclined to do – the reporter might be interested in a secondary data point.
    13. 13. Deploy Across Multiple Channels Email Website Blog Webinar Social Sales Presentation Step 7
    14. 14. Measure: Was It Worth It? Social Shares Media Placements Website Traffic Whitepaper Downloads Impact on Business Step 8
    15. 15. What Can You Do Today?
    16. 16. Questions to Ask 1. How can I use the data I already have on hand? 2. What data do I need to generate in order to craft a compelling story? 3. How do I transform that data into bite-size nuggets for my target audience, press, and prospective clients? 4. Who can help me put my plan into action?
    17. 17. Questions? Mike Santoro Andrea Kempfer President, Walker Sands @michaelsantoro Director of Marketing , Lab42 @AndreaKempfer
    18. 18. Thank You! Next Webinar: Measuring PR with Google Analytics December 11, 1pm EST