The Magic Of Data: Data-driven Storytelling For Companies (Part 1)

“Data is King”! Although this sentence sounds almost a bit hackneyed, it is as relevant as never before: data is and will remain the most important resource in the digital age. However, often negative associations come to mind when discussing the use and protection of data. In fact, anonymised data can and should have a social and above all informative added value and tell exciting stories that enrich all our lives. 

Use of data

Most organizations have always been closely connected with the topic of data: Whereas in the past it was mainly annual reports and market studies that were published, today facts are used to lift storytelling into a new sphere. 

PR can tell new and exciting stories from almost inexhaustible sources and thus, help companies to achieve significant prestige with few resources. Nevertheless, in many places PR consultants are still afraid of publishing internal data. But in this way they miss out on many opportunities to back up their work with facts – which is a pity because in times of Big Data & Co., companies are able to act and communicate data-driven more easily than ever before.

Journalism including all big newspapers such as DIE ZEIT, Der Spiegel and SZ recognized this trend quite a while ago: more and more journalists are increasingly using data in their stories to understand and explain backgrounds and interrelationships at local and national level – with success! The reach and importance of data journalism is growing rapidly and many editorial offices now have not only specialized editors and visualization professionals, but also data analysts who develop their own models for collecting and evaluating facts.

Use of external sources

Of course, not all companies possess relevant data or have corresponding brand awareness and thus social relevance. For everyone else, it is also worthwhile to look beyond one’s own plate as there are exciting external sources that can be used for data PR. The good thing: Many of them are free and easily accessible! But before using the data, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Is the source trustworthy?
  2. Who or what stands  behind it and what is his/her interest?
  3. Is the data up-to-date?
  4. Is the data representative?

Germans love data, which is why there are so many freely accessible sources of information in this country. Don’t forget to always indicate them as the source.

  • At the Federal Statistical Office, independent information relating to politics, the economy, business, the environment and society is analysed and evaluated daily.
  • Also noteworthy is GovData, a data portal specialising in administrative data from the federal and state governments.
  • On an international basis, Eurostat, EU Open Data Portal and Wikidata can also be used.
  • The portal Statista is the global market leader for in-depth statistical research. However, it is important to note that Statista should not be used as a source reference, but rather as a reference to the original source, as Statista only collects existing data, but does not represent the survey data source.
  • For topic and trend based research, Google Trends is the first choice. With a precise keyword search, topics can not only be divided into regions and countries, but also time periods can be filtered separately, revealing the most relevant topics that are discussed and polarized on the net. Google Reviews, on the other hand, can be used to compare the popularity of facilities such as swimming pools, museums and cinemas.
  • Depending on the research approach or the reason for collecting data, institutes, universities, associations and chambers of commerce can also be very useful as sources for data PR. 

Develop exciting data stories

From now on, data should be seen as a loyal companion of companies. Regardless of whether internal or external information sources are used – many exciting stories can be developed from facts – with the potential to lastingly increase brand awareness and findability via Google. 

It is always crucial that the data analysis was carried out conscientiously and that the PR story also fits the brand. In addition to the appropriate time  of dispatch or the current communication occasion, the visual presentation of the data with tools like datawrapper and infogram plays an important role as well. To also increase the probability of a link/backlink, it is advisable to create a separate campaign site. Last but not least, and for all those who deal with data PR professionally, it is possible – analogous to journalism – to create your own programs with so-called APIs, i.e. interfaces, which automatically draw and structure relevant data.

Author: Dominik Kratzenberg is Communications Director at PIABO. He has been consulting (inter)national brands in the fields of consumer electronics, apps, e-commerce and consumer portals for more than five years. His passion for telling exciting stories from data arose during his work for and with Germany’s largest independent consumer portal, Testberichte.de, and through numerous inspiring discussions with data analysts at conferences such as Data Natives in Berlin.