Data Mining in Public Relations (Across All Budgets)

Data speaks. It can persuade new ideas, motivate change, disrupt innovation, elevate brands, stir controversy and expose truths. It matters to consumers, salespeople, CEOs, businesses, investors and most importantly, media. So, naturally it should matter to PR and communications pros.

While the media is constantly fighting for readership in a world of clickbait, listicles and memes, the most credible names in media are unwavering in their commitment to publish content grounded in or informed by statistically-valid data.

Just as data is the foundation of credible journalism, it should be the foundation of PR programs. Data should inform all content, messaging, branding, measurement and the stories you pitch to the media. 

While data should inform all aspects of your PR program — from setting and measuring goals, to identifying influencers, generating leads and more — it should certainly be the epicenter of all content and narrative development. A data-driven content plan includes a smart mix of the following data tactics, which have been ranked in terms of cost (high to low):

Surveying / polling

Using an outside survey tool is one of the most effective ways to generate data for both B2B and B2C brands — you can control the audience and questions you want answered. Cost varies greatly based on the tools used.

“Niche surveying” — which is typically used for polling hard-to-target demographics, such as IT decision makers in the cybersecurity space — is best performed by data powerhouses like Forrester, Wakefied, Harris, Edison, etc. This type of surveying will run at least $10,000 to $30,000 on the low end, as they include the initial question design; recruiting, interviewing and incentivizing niche participants; as well as tabulation, analysis, custom paneling and final data report creation.

If you’re looking to poll general consumers on a specific topic, there are many credible tools available that allow you to keep the budget from $1,500 to $6,000. Tools like Google Consumer Survey and YouGov give you flexibility to perform quick, cost effective polling for rapid response or themed consumer reports.

Survey reports can not only lead to standalone feature coverage, but can also be leveraged to get your brandinto industry stories alongside competitors or major brands. While the ultimate goal is a feature story, getting mentioned alongside big brands generates huge clout for your brand.

Data mining

Your company is likely sitting on a treasure trove of extremely newsworthy industry data. You just need to know what to ask for. Whether it’s analyzing info from a CRM system to tell a story on how to close sales cycles quicker, sharing analytics from an e-commerce company on how long it takes a consumer to buy a product, or culling the cities with the highest manufacturing hiring from a social media job platform, data can always tell stories.

While this can be a very low-cost tactic, keep in mind that it requires dedicating man hours to pulling this information from their database and analyzing the results.


Using outside information to find new ways to tell stories is another effective data tactic. From pulling insight from to support a story for veteran hiring or using cord cutting data from Statista to show market growth for HDTV antennas, extrapolating data connects your brandto national trends resulting in something like this: “75% of top brands have VR projects.” The cost involved will be man hours that your team will use in cold calling, auditing, researching and analyzing various themes. Be cautious to evaluate the amount of hours your team has to dedicate to this project and how that will affect your budget.

At SHIFT, data-driven strategies are ingrained in our PR programs from top to bottom, and we push ourselves to use data in new, creative ways that help our clients stand out and generate top-tier media results and high-impact campaigns.

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