How to Use Data to Add Punch to Your PR Efforts

Financial services companies know it takes something extra to cut through the media noise today. The industry is shaken-up regularly by market flashes, crashes and pivotal regulation. At the same time, there’s nothing new about calamity and scandal in the press—it’s just a matter of which company’s name will be splattered across the front pages next. With the doom and gloom pervading Wall Street, many of our financial services clients are looking to add something more positive and definitive to what continues to be an uncertain conversation. This means bolstering a qualitative thought-leadership campaign with some hard numbers in the form of survey and research findings. Here’s how we do it: ACQUIRING AND PACKAGING DATA The first step is to acquire the necessary data. With “big data” all the rage, many financial services firms have a wealth of information at their fingertips already. One approach can be to mine the customer database for KPIs, or aggregate and analyze statistics to identify customer behavior and market trends. Other options are to partner with an industry association to add third-party credibility, or commission a research firm to conduct a survey of industry professionals on your behalf. Branding that data with your company’s name can help give it legs and bolster your thought leadership reputation. Financial services and financial technology firms can use branded data as a tool to help move the dialogue away from the company, product or the same trend everyone is already talking about while still taking the conversation to a meaningful place. DATA THAT DOES IT Here are three real-world examples of financial organizations’ use of data: â–¶ Banking: Pricewaterhouse Coopers ’ new digital tipping point surveyed some 3,000 banking customers in nine markets to understand their digital media needs and behavior. The report found there was a high correlation between digital engagement and share of wallet and that digitally active customers tended to have the largest product holdings. â–¶ Brokerage: The Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation issues a monthly report detailing annuities sales that is regularly referenced in publications such as Financial Planning. This is a great example of a company that manages a tremendous amount of data that it can package to provide a unique product to the industry and boost its thought-leadership profile. â–¶ Insurance: Insured Retirement Institute’ s (IRI) member-only 2012 Summary Prospectus Survey highlights the importance of a short summary prospectus for investors. The survey found that 95% of investors prefer a shorter paper summary prospectus and 59% would consider a variable annuity as part of their investment portfolio if they had a short summary prospectus. The Summary Prospectus Survey is a great example of how an association can help the industry to better understand the publics’ needs. INTEGRATING DATA INTO CAMPAIGNS It is vital that firms recognize the PR potential of their data. Here are the platforms on which data works best: • Media— Journalists love data. Though quotes or thought-leadership piece expressing your company’s opinions can be incredibly valuable, telling journalists what the percentage increase has been in front-office technology spending in 2012, your contribution is infinitely more valuable. • Analysts— While they provide data of their own, sharing aggregate customer data with analysts can help reinforce their own findings and secure a place in valuable vendor rankings. • Bylined articles— To integrate your data across your PR campaign, include top-line findings in your bylined articles. This helps you avoid having to quote a third-party while strengthening your brand as an industry authority. It also allows you to include hyperlinks to a more comprehensive data set or report on your Web site. • Social media— Social media provides the opportunity to poll industry professionals, conduct research and obtain feedback on your findings. Moreover, companies can tweet about key findings and include a unique hashtag for each data point, ensuring a truly integrated PR campaign. Data means nothing if you’re unable to use it effectively, which is why firms today need the ability to mine, analyze and report on ever increasing volumes of data if they are to provide senior management with the required strategic insight. PRN CONTACT: This article was written by Steph Johnson, head of North America for Aspectus PR. She can be reached at

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