Data Dive: Data Terms PR Pros Need to Know

Are you a PR pro starting out on your data and measurement journey? You're not alone. The communications landscape is becoming increasingly complex as more technology emerges, and consistently learning the ins and outs of data and applying them to your work can be tricky.

As measurement gradually becomes a larger part of PR, there is a whole slew of terminology you may be expected to know, and it may rightfully feel intimidating. Below are three data terms you need to know and how they apply to the communications field:

Big Data: Merriam-Webster gives the definition of big data as "an accumulation of data that is too large and complex for processing by traditional database management tools." While this may sound intimidating, this is actually a boon to the communications field. What this means for PR pros is larger quantities of data to help shape and transform communications efforts. A PRSA blog post argues that “communicators harness [big] data to spark even greater creativity, hone their people skills and improve their effectiveness. Contrary to what many may think, big data enhances the creative process by focusing our ingenuity where it will do the most good.” 

Artificial Intelligence: With all the technological advancements available to us, we now have machines that can simulate the intelligent behavior of humans. This has already begun to cause a major shift in the PR profession, with the added capabilities of predictive analysis, sentiment analysis and other data reporting that was previously done manually. There are also programs that allow you to target journalists and influencers more efficiently. With that said, human oversight is still needed, so don’t leave it all up to the machines.

Analytics vs. Metrics: The difference between analytics and metrics trips up a lot of communicators. You may find it helpful to think of metrics as “the what” and analytics as the “so what,” according to a MediaBistro article summing up the distinction. Metrics are the actual numeric values of key performance that you collect from your campaigns and social media channels (reach, engagements, impressions, etc.) and analytics help you make sense of those numbers to see if a campaign was successful or not. A report that simply shows the values you’ve collected but does not offer insights thereof will not be very useful to your business’ bottom line.

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