You’ve taken all of the initial first steps of conducting a survey. You’ve counseled your client on what focus to take and questions to ask, you’ve partnered with a reputable research company like Wakefield or Harris, and now you’ve been delivered with the results. A large, in-depth, running list of data that you are now tasked with digesting and turning into something tangible and enticing to elicit media coverage. Where do you begin and how do you make sure your client sees a return on the many dollars they’ve invested in this information? Here are a few tips for strategically using survey data in media outreach to ensure your client gets the most out of it:
- Make it official and set a date:A client’s motivation behind conducting and paying for a survey often comes from wanting to examine a topic area near and dear to their business. Because of this, more often than not data pulled from a vendor survey is not worthy of breaking news status. This means that it’s important to create some urgency around the results that will encourage reporters to write. Setting a release date and pitching the results under embargo is a great way to not only give reporters a timeline to prepare their articles, but also create a sense of urgency and newsworthiness behind the data. Drafting a press release highlighting the boldest findings is an additional way to officiate the release date and also extend to a broader audience with the news aside from the reporters you selected to pitch. The press release can also be used in follow-up pitching you do with reporters who may have expressed interest when pre-pitching but have not yet written.
- Show your stats: Whether you are looking at the raw data or a fully manufactured report, survey results hold a lot of information; way too much for your everyday reporter to sift through looking for the most impactful nuggets that might appeal to his or her audience. Don’t give reporters the option to delete your email by supplying them with too much to look at, and make it easy for them to see the value in the data. In your initial pitch outline the top 5 most interesting data points that relate to your client’s industry space and the reporter’s beat. You can use these points to highlight what the company spokesperson could discuss in a briefing or as full stats they can draw from directly in any upcoming articles. The more simply you outline the information available, the more likely reporters will be to write.
- Have a backup:Not all reporters are interested in receiving survey data and many clients often have grand expectations of how much coverage their data will receive – especially with the amount of money many survey facilitators charge. In order to be best prepared to meet your client’s goals and expectations for coverage results, have a thoroughly built out and closely targeted media list with 3-4 alternative reporters per publication. Be prepared to pivot quickly and add new contacts that might be relevant as you see them. Also, don’t be afraid to hop on the phone if you haven’t heard from a reporter. A quick intro to what the data is about on the phone can prompt reporters to open your email. If you haven’t heard back from a reporter, ask for quick feedback. Do they accept survey data? Are they interested in viewing the raw results? Are they simply too busy to accept anything in-depth at this time? Answers to questions like these can be helpful in knowing when to move on to your next target.
- Keep it alive:Data doesn’t die, so keep it alive and moving as long as you can. Even after the press release hits the wire and full on outreach subsides, you can still pull data points and parts of the report to use in proactive pitches as you see relevant opportunities in the news. Is there an upcoming conference or industry show taking place you know reporters will be at? Arm them with a few of the data points from your client’s survey that they can easily insert into their coverage. Even if the data isn’t enough for a reporter to write about as a standalone article, inclusion in bigger picture stories is a great way to get the information to a broader audience and credit your client as the brains behind the survey. One of the benefits of having survey data at the ready is that many reporters do find numbers based statistics to be useful back up in their stories, and data can be inserted into articles for many months after polling.
These four steps are a good jumping off point for knowing what to keep top of mind when planning a campaign around your client’s survey data, but they certainly aren’t the only ways to make survey data appealing to media. There is always room for creative, proactive ideas and strategy when it comes to pitching so be sure to leverage ideas and past experiences from your team or broader agency. With the rising popularity of polls and surveys in the world of public relations, you’re bound to run into a person or two with notable experience to draw from.
Account Executive, Account Services