What is Data-Driven PR, Part 9: Pitching With Data

We’ve used the expression data-driven PR for quite some time now, but haven’t clearly defined it. What does data-driven PR mean? How do you know whether your public relations efforts are data-driven or not? To be data-driven is to make decisions with data first and foremost. In this series, we’ll examine how to become a more data-driven PR professional.

How to Pitch a Data-Driven Pitch with… Data!

Just because we’ve used data and the scientific method to create a compelling story doesn’t mean the world will beat a path to our door. The final part of data-driven PR is to use our data, analysis, and insights to identify who would be most receptive to our pitching.

Suppose we take our pitch about SEO, about how trust and linking have a relationship. Who should we pitch this story to? Just anyone?

Unsurprisingly, the answer is: let’s examine the data. We’d look at our media lists and examine not just what the reporter, journalist, or publication is about, but what their audience is about as well.

Let’s pretend for a moment that instead of the pitch author, I am a prospective reporter or media outlet. Should this pitch about SEO land on my desk?

Here’s an example of what my Twitter followers care about, visualized as a word cloud using Sysomos MAP, a popular public relations media monitoring tool:

audience cloud.png

Note that SEO is in there. It’s a topic that my audience – and the journalist’s audience – cares about.

By focusing on the data about what our audiences care about, we increase the likelihood our pitch will be relevant and well-received.

Kicking Data-Driven PR Up a Notch

Suppose we had a journalist or reporter we wanted to place a pitch with. Beyond just their social media bio, could we discern their interests? Using advanced analysis with machine learning, we might analyze a reporter’s most recent articles over the past year to see what other topics they write about.

For example, let’s take Marketing Land and Search Engine Land editor Ginny Marvin, and 43 of her most recent columns. Would she be interested in our pitch about SEO? When we do an entity extraction using natural language processing tools, we find:

entity extraction.png

While Google is a highly salient (prominent) topic in her writing, it’s not Google’s SEO she writes most about. We see she writes much more about Google in the context of AdWords and advertising. If we have nothing relevant about her areas of interest in our pitch, we are unlikely to appeal to her.

This is a glimpse at the future of public relations; over time, machine learning tools will help us be better data-driven PR professionals. Instead of shotgun pitching to anyone who will listen, our tools will help us identify who truly wants to hear from us. Our tools will help us scale our efforts and improve our relevance to the audiences we care about most.


We have reached the end of our series, on data-driven PR. From the very beginning, understanding what questions to ask, to the end, in which our machines may help us scale our efforts, data is at the heart of modern PR. Thank you for reading, and may your journey as a data-driven PR professional be a fruitful one.

Christopher S. Penn
Vice President, Marketing Technology

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Posted on January 30, 2017 in Data, Data-Driven PR, Public Relations

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About the Author

Christopher S. Penn is an authority on digital marketing and marketing technology. A recognized thought leader, author, and speaker, he has shaped three key fields in the marketing industry: Google Analytics adoption, data-driven marketing and PR, and email marketing. Known for his high-octane, here’s how to get it done approach, his expertise benefits companies such as Citrix Systems, McDonald’s, GoDaddy, McKesson, and many others. His latest work, Leading Innovation, teaches organizations how to implement and scale innovative practices to direct change. Christopher is a highly-sought keynote speaker thanks to his energetic, informative talks. In 2015, he delivered insightful, innovative talks on all aspects of marketing and analytics at over 30 events to critical acclaim. He is a founding member of IBM’s Watson Analytics Predictioneers, co-founder of the groundbreaking PodCamp Conference, and co-host of the Marketing Over Coffee marketing podcast. Christopher is a Google Analytics Certified Professional and a Google AdWords Certified Professional. He is the author of over two dozen marketing books including bestsellers such as Marketing White Belt: Basics for the Digital Marketer, Marketing Red Belt: Connecting With Your Creative Mind, and Marketing Blue Belt: From Data Zero to Marketing Hero.
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