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How to source data for your digital PR campaigns

Sacha Mooney from NovosSacha Mooney in Digital PR

7th April, 2021

How to: Sourcing data for your digital PR campaigns

Putting a PR campaign together combines a number of elements, but, perhaps one of the most important is the research, in fact, if you are creating more of a data lead piece this is a crucial part of your campaign creation process and will likely take up a bulk of your time. 

In a time where ‘fake news’ often dominates, it is imperative that you make sure everything your campaign states is backed by credible sources, data and research. Where do we find credible data, I hear you ask?

There are three main ways in which you can source data to support your campaign: 

1) Client databases

If your client has a website, then your client has data – it’s as simple as that. 

Every single website gathers data of some kind, whether that be how a customer moves through the site, what customers are purchasing or what they are typing into the search bar, whatever it is, it’s all collected and readily available to access.

Data such as this is great for gaining insight into customer behaviours and purchase trends, for example, does your bedding client see a spike in sales around Valentines Day? Or, are customers searching for lighter fabrics in the summer? Once you have pulled the data, you then have to work out what it means, and how best to use it. Is it enough to be a story in itself? If not, are there any parts of it that can be linked to anything that’s already being talked about in the news?  If yes, this is a great newsjacking opportunity.

2) Surveys

In some cases, it is better to conduct your own research in the form of a survey, rather than using readily available data, as we did on this campaign for one of our clients; Diamonds Factory. This method works especially well when your campaign idea is a little more niche, or you have specific headlines you’d like to create. 

Example of a survey based digital PR campaign

[This digital PR campaign created for the jewellery brand, Diamonds Factory, used primary research in form of a survey to assess the spending habits of Britsh consumers] 

Whether you choose to push the survey out yourself or you seek help from professional survey providers, it is imperative that you collect data from a representative sample of the target group. So, if you are looking at UK wide trends you should make sure you are surveying people from every single region in the UK. Not only does this make it a fair representation of UK trends, but it also gives you more coverage opportunities as you will have regional specific hooks that you can pitch to regional publications.

The key to getting the best data from a survey is to know exactly what you want out of it. The way I like to do this is by thinking about the headlines I’d like to pitch out and from there, work out what questions I’d need in order to get the data that would create those headlines.

3) Readily available data within the public domain

The public domain holds so many free and reliable data sources that you should definitely be utilising. Whether you don’t have the budget to conduct a survey or the data you do have isn’t quite enough, then reaching for some of this readily available data could be your answer.

We used this tactic to create a campaign for Money.co.uk, utilising data from a number of reliable online sources to predict which tourist hotspots we are at risk of losing due to rising sea levels.

Example of digital PR campaign created by using public domain data

[This digital PR campaign was created by using publically available data sources] 

Free and publicly available data sources

Now, there are hundreds of free data sources, so I will list a few of them below otherwise we’d be here all day…

  • ONS – The Office for National Statistics is the UK’s largest independent producer of official statistics and the recognised national statistical institute of the UK.
  • YouGov – A global public opinion and data company that shares its survey findings. Many are free, however, there are some that require payment.
  • Statista – Much like the above resource.
  • Data.gov – The home of the US Government’s open data.
  • Data.gov.uk – The UK version of the above.
  • Google Trends – Analyses the popularity of top search trends amongst Google users all over the world.
  • SEMRush Keyword Research – Similar to the above, this tool shows you updates on search volumes, trends and more.
  • Local council sites (gov.uk) – Local councils sites are a great resource for finding data on local amenities.
  • Data.police.uk – A great resource for getting information on crime statistics for England, Wales and Northern Ireland
  • Reddit – A great platform to use to find out what people are talking about and what topics are trending.
  • Social media – This is a great platform to turn to if you are looking to create ‘the most popular’ type pieces of content, scraping hashtag data is particularly useful in this instance.

Those are just a few of the free data sources that are available, but a quick google search for ‘free data resources’ should bring up many more options.

So those are three ways in which you can source data for your digital PR campaigns, which of those you use will likely depend on the campaign idea – but rest assured, you have a number of avenues to go down to get exactly what you need.

When in the ideation phase of your campaign, make sure that the data you want/need is available using one of the above resources before you push ahead with the idea, this will save you from hitting a wall midway through the campaign build.

Sacha Mooney from Novos
Article by Sacha Mooney
Senior Digital PR Strategist at NOVOS, Sacha, has been working in PR for the last 5 years. Starting out in-house for a brand doing traditional PR, she then moved into a traditional agency setting before continuing her career in the world of digital PR. Sacha has worked on and led numerous campaigns for a range of clients across a whole host of industries.

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