PR today is ‘Public Research’ – Part II

It is heartening to see the general agreement on basing PR narratives on research! Very promising to hear a youngster who called and claimed, “We don’t do PR if there is no data to back it”. How cool!

With the humongous information overload and clutter prevalent thanks to social media, it has become difficult for brands to effectively reach their potential customers. There is hence a need for PR and content strategies to be focussed, personalised and so creative and authentic that they hit the nail correctly!

This marks the entry of – Data driven PR!

And it is no rocket science.

If your PR process relies on facts and statistical evidences to generate awareness and uses insights to drive brand narratives, it is data driven PR!  

Although it sounds simple, it can be one hell of an operation. But results, guaranteed! I can actually vouch for the fact that brands or organisations that use a data driven PR approach have an upper hand. They don’t have to rely on events, announcements or launches or for that matter the credibility of their brand to create news. This approach does help during the lull period! 

I can share a lot of data driven PR campaigns that I have been a part of. But before that, let me share with you the process that I have followed. Due credit also goes to Roger Darashah, COO of AdFactors with whom we have evolved some amazing research driven narratives that have been hugely successful.

A suggested approach to data driven PR

  • Construct a hypothesis that helps validate the brand USP or purpose – A smart way to plan a data driven campaign could be to anticipate the kind of headlines or narratives you want to set for the brand. This hypothesis is based on the problem your brand is trying to solve. Case in point is the GoodKnight PR campaign that we did to launch a powerful Liquid vaporiser machine. The hypothesis was that many people did not know that the Dengue mosquito bites in the morning. This was in line with our recommendation that repellents should also be used during day time if necessary.
  • Segment the TG in a way that multiple cuts of data can be generated from the insights Segmentation is very key as research has to be focussed. Mass inputs from unplanned samples could lead to blunt outcomes. Diversity of the sample could be basis the geography, age group etc.
  • Construct a survey or a study to validate data – Insights could be framed qualitatively and then fortified quantitatively. If the hypothesis in the GoodKnight case was that not many consumers did not know that the Dengue mosquito bites in the morning, the research could quantity the number to understand the gravitas of the situation. It was found the 92 percent did not know. It became the headline and a call to action.
  • Analyse the results to pick newsworthy elements – Developing story angles and narratives based on the numbers and the insights becomes very important. In the above case, if it was now known that the Dengue mosquito bites in the morning, the susceptibility of kids getting bitten was high as they are in school during day time and none of the schools have repellents. It again qualified as a public interest authentic concern and paved the path to popularise outdoor repellent formats like roll-ons or patches.
  • Package the research report – Infographics, videos, white papers, thought leadership quotes from key opinion leaders packaged well around the data only ensures that the belief levels are high. Very important in this world of fake news.
  • Reach out to the media for them to lap it up The moment the insights, data and narratives are robust, authentic and relevant, media is more than happy to pick them up.

The simple point that I am trying to make is use research, invest in research and generate narratives that are backed by research. The level of research could be directly proportionate to the type of product, the brand, the community or the genre. However, it is amazing to see how data can add authenticity to your campaigns.

In the part three of this series, I intend to share a few of the Godrej case studies that were campaigns based on research.


The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Sujit M Patil, ABC on FacebookSujit M Patil, ABC on LinkedinSujit M Patil, ABC on Twitter
Sujit M Patil, ABC
Sujit is responsible for building and sustaining Godrej group’s reputation across stakeholders. An IABC accredited business communicator and a three time winner of the IABC International Gold Quill award, he has been listed as India’s top ten men in corporate communications by Reputation Today and featured on the PR Week Global Power Book.

In 2018, Sujit was listed on the Holmes Report’s Influence 100 research and listing of the world’s most influential in-house marketing and communications professionals. A speaker and jury at various national and international bodies such as the WCF Davos, AMEC, PR Newsweek Asia, Public Affairs Asia etc., Sujit is a part of the prestigious Arthur W Page Society.

He volunteers as a guest faculty at various B-Schools, is a weekend farmer, loves travelling, understanding cultures and experimenting with new cuisines.

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