The communications industry suffers from the portrayal of basic data observations as insights. At the same time, key insights can often be lost in the noise of data-rich slideware.
I was reminded of the challenges in presenting data at the 2023 AMEC Global Summit last week in Miami. (AMEC is an industry association that advocates for PR and communications research best practices via its annual summit and offers resource guides and training courses.)
A consistent theme throughout the sessions was that researchers must find ways to communicate insights concisely and creatively. Subjecting an audience to intense data-laden presentations will likely fail to provoke the desired understanding, discussion, and recall.
That is not to say the analysis should be simple. On the contrary, the communications industry suffers from the portrayal of basic data observations as insights. At the same time, key insights can often be lost in the noise of data-rich slideware.
It’s the classic “signal-to-noise ratio” problem.
Audience communications, as expertly described by Allyson Hugley, LinkedIn’s Global Director of Consumer Insights, must be crafted to connect with an audience that is inundated with information. Data insights, combined with illustrative stories or images, are far more likely to be understood and recalled. That’s the way our brains are wired.
At the risk of burying the lead, the conference’s main message underscored the need to move from “Vanity to Value” measurement. The key is to move beyond outputs (e.g., media mentions) and intermediate outcomes (e.g., social engagement) to the demonstrable business impact of marketing and communications efforts. Several sessions outlined the links between earned media and financial performance, and I am excited to examine similar principles in my work. The connections exist — we need to dig deeper in our analysis.
Exhibitors at AMEC demonstrated products that provide remarkable data mining and topic segmentation capabilities. As a result, we have the tools at our disposal to conduct more nuanced media analysis that can identify critical issues, patterns, and opportunities that will undoubtedly result in more informed outward communications.
As Big Valley Founder Tim Marklein advises, let’s “use research and analytics as a GPS.” A more thorough understanding of market and media dynamics should lead to more prescriptive explanations. If earned and owned media do drive business performance, then it is on us to better identify the levers we can pull to inform communications strategy and improve business outcomes.
Counting mentions is obviously not enough. We live in an era of riches when it comes to media data; it is time to spend that currency more wisely.