Here’s a little secret about PR professionals – although we fashion ourselves as creative types, many of us (me included) have a clandestine love of numbers. I won’t be switching career paths to become an accountant anytime soon, but I have to admit that a fresh study or survey that relates to one of my clients can make me pretty happy. I used to wear the title of “stats queen” around our office, which was the nicest term my co-workers could think of to describe my geeky delight in spreadsheets full of descriptive numbers.
But even PR pros who shiver at the sight of a spreadsheet will tell you that numbers help them do their job. The ultimate goal of PR is to make your case, whether that’s the case for why people should eat at your restaurant, support your cause or choose your company’s widget. What better way to do that than by offering some third-party “proof” to back up your claims? That’s where statistics come into play.
If you take a quick look you’ll see that many news stories quote at least one study, survey or poll. They give journalists something to back up the story they’re writing, and confirm for the reporter and the reader that this topic is worth paying attention to. That’s why stats can be such a powerful tool when you’re looking for ways to get your story covered. If you’ve got a study that supports your claim, you’re already several steps down the road to getting some news coverage for it.
Understand that the study doesn’t have to be “yours.” Studies and surveys can cost big bucks and take a long time to complete. So take a look at what’s out there already. For The Clean Air Campaign, we’ve used an annual study done by a group in Texas to tell us whether traffic congestion is getting better or worse in metro Atlanta. For other clients we have pulled information from trade associations, industry experts and other credible sources. The result – someone else’s research makes our case more credible and helps us make the news.
Of course, there are times when you need some information so specific that you’ll have to do your own survey. How to be successful in that venture is another topic for another day. But whether the numbers are yours or someone else’s the lesson is the same – numbers make the news.