In our constantly connected digital era, consumers and prospects see an endless stream of branded content from the second they wake up until they finally log off for the night and go to sleep.
Modern businesses have found the only way to cut through the content clutter is to leverage the power of data by placing hyper-relevant content in front of an interested audience.
Thus, data and personalization have quickly become the gold standard.
Data-driven PR isn’t a new concept.
Businesses have always relied on data to generate ground-breaking, newsworthy, or timely headlines.
But, if you work at a small company with limited resources, data-driven PR doesn’t always feel like a viable strategy.
After all, it takes a significant amount of time and money to conduct large-scale research studies.
But contrary to popular belief, even small businesses have access to a goldmine of valuable data—sitting untouched within a CRM or contact database.
Today, I’ll show you how to mine your CRM for important data-driven insights which can fuel your next PR campaign.
Let’s get into it!
Data-driven PR and CRM Data
Most seasoned PR professionals are likely familiar with the concept of data-driven PR. But for those who aren’t as familiar, here’s a quick overview.
Simply put, data-driven PR is a strategy requiring analysis of proprietary data.
By doing this analysis, you’ll gain compelling insights which will support your company’s overall branding and public relations goals.
Although many types of data can power this kind of public relations strategy, let’s focus on CRM data.
Collecting CRM data has certain advantages, such as:
- Access to CRM data is convenient.Nearly all modern companies use a tool or software to manage prospect and customer data—often a CRM platform. This technology is used to collect and maintain data in-house. Therefore, CRM data is extremely easy to access and more cost-effective than other types of data.
- CRM data is often proprietary by nature.The data stored within your CRM is made up of prospects and customers who come into contact with your company. That means your CRM data is unique to your business. No other company can garner the same insights or data points, simply because they don’t have access to your CRM.
- It’s inherently relevant to a specific industry or audience.Your customers and prospects provide their data willingly because they’re interested in your products and services. That alone makes the data within your CRM, and any insights gleaned from your CRM data, relevant to a particular audience and industry.
It’s evident that CRM data can be a valuable resource. And if you’re wondering how to get started, you’re not alone.
Analyzing CRM data can be a daunting task, no matter the size of your company.
Now, thanks to constantly evolving technology, it doesn’t need to be.
Next, let’s look at the important factors which impact how successful your data-driven PR initiative will be.
Key Considerations for Collecting and Using CRM Data
When it comes to CRM data and data-driven business strategies, the phrase, ‘garbage in, garbage out’ comes to mind.
What this means is: the data you use will dictate how successful your strategy is. And if you work with inaccurate or low-quality data, your results will ultimately be inaccurate and low-quality.
With that in mind, here are three key considerations to keep at the forefront of your data-driven PR strategy:
- Data hygiene.Consider this statistic: 62 percent of organizations rely on marketing and prospect data that’s 20-40 percent inaccurate (source). If your organization is among that 62 percent—and it probably is—you have a lot of work to do before the data within your CRM is usable. So, before any data analysis, work with an in-house data team or external resource to improve your CRM data hygiene.
- Technological considerations.Technology plays a critical role in the availability and cleanliness of business data. Think about it, if you rely on various tools and technologies to conduct day-to-day business operations, they must all integrate on some level. Otherwise, your most valuable data will be kept in separate silos—leaving you unable to analyze it in any meaningful way. For this reason, you should carefully analyze your business technology stack to identify any potential gaps or data bottlenecks.
- Data compliance.If you haven’t heard of GDPR, you might be living under a rock. Legislation like GDPR, and other comparable laws, dictate how and when you can use customer data. If your CRM or business practices don’t comply with applicable data requirements, your data-driven PR strategy might do more harm than good. So be sure to check with a legal resource or compliance officer to determine what types of data you can and can’t use.
Now, let’s talk about how to mine and analyze your customer database to glean actionable insights. And I’ll include a few helpful examples.
How to Execute a CRM Data-driven PR Campaign
At this point, you’re essentially standing in front of a mountain of raw CRM data.
And now, it’s your job to transform this data into something more manageable, something you can easily process and analyze.
But here’s the thing, there’s no right or wrong way to compile this data.
Whether you work with a simple Excel document or an expensive data analysis tool, the goal is the same—to identify a surprising, insightful, or shocking piece of information.
For this reason, I suggest working backward.
Start with a hypothesis and consult your data to confirm or deny your initial idea.
Your hypothesis and conclusion must have one or more of the following qualities to achieve PR success:
- Insights align with major business or public relations goals.
- They are specific and actionable.
- You can clearly and easily communicate these insights.
- You have enough background information to provide context.
- These insights are new and exciting.
- The information is relevant and important to your target audience.
Let’s look at some examples.
Say you work for a large, online furniture retailer. Sorting through the purchase data contained in your CRM, you identify a spike in sales of one particular sofa in one particular color.
You hypothesize that an Instagram post from a leading lifestyle influencer, featuring this particular sofa, likely coincides with this spike in sales.
Using this data, you strategically select several pieces of furniture that aren’t selling quite so well.
You then reach out to your list of influencers and send interested parties a piece of your furniture—for free.
As a result, 60 percent of these influencers feature their new furniture in social media posts.
Not only does this increase social media engagement and cause a significant spike in sales, but you also place the following piece in a leading lifestyle publication: The Piece of Furniture Your Favorite Influencers are Obsessing Over.
This two-part strategy shines a light on your brand and leads to the strategic success of a product that was otherwise selling poorly.
Now, let’s say you work for a leading chain of home and garden centers. Mother’s Day is approaching, and you’re looking to capitalize on the holiday to generate more flower sales.
Again, you look at purchase data to determine which flowers are most popular by state.
Then, you work with your designers and web developers to create an interactive map telling users which flowers to get their mom for Mother’s Day.
To drive more traffic to your stores, you also include a feature telling users which local stores have those flowers in stock.
You use this visual aid paired with strategically mined statistics to pitch fun, lighter pieces that run before Mother’s Day.
Industry Shifts and Job Titles
Shifting to a B2B mindset—pretend you work in-house at a company that sells HR software.
You’ve noticed a recent increase in form submissions that have ‘employee engagement’ in the job title.
When you dig in a little more, you confirm your suspicion—in just one year this particular category of job titles skyrocketed by more than 300 percent.
To you, this signifies a departure from the standard view of human resources.
Instead, companies recognize the importance of engaged employees, and they’re hiring to support this need.
Following up on this hypothesis, you dig into CRM data further and find the companies that submit forms with ‘employee engagement’ job titles, on average, make 20 percent more revenue than companies who continue to use traditional HR job titles.
Using this insight, you pitch the following article to leading publications: ‘Employee Engagement as Your Competitive Edge: Generate 20% More Revenue with This Simple Switch.’
If picked up by leading publications, this byline can help establish your brand as an industry expert.
And they can also perfectly position your product as a leading HR solution meeting the needs of companies looking for more engaged employees.
You, Too, Can Have Data-Driven PR
You don’t need to be a massive corporation to leverage data-driven public relations.
As this article shows, most companies already have everything they need to get started, right at their fingertips.
So don’t be afraid to get creative and think outside the box.
After all, that’s the key to discovering the most compelling, newsworthy insights.
Have you used your CRM data to generate buzz around your brand? Please share in the comments below.