Steve Mroczkowski 27 April 2017

It’s reported that we create up to 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day (that’s 2.5 followed by 18 zeros worth), with 90% of the data in the world being created in the last two years. Facebook posts, emails, customer purchases and user interactions all contribute towards generating those 18 zeros.

It’s no surprise then that businesses now look to harness and understand this data to inform and improve their offering. A recent Accenture report confirmed this, with 83 per cent of companies pursuing big data projects to seize a competitive edge. Of those surveyed, a further 8 out of 10 of them believed that companies who do not embrace big data lose their competitive position and are likely to face extinction.

As the above findings show the corporate world has very much bought in to big data and its possibilities but, what about the PR world and how long can PR be exempt from the big data revolution?

PR has long been an industry where decisions are made based on past experiences, instinct or insight drawn from the likes of competitor audits, journalists or whitepapers, and without the support of big data. Admittedly, for a long time the data wasn’t available, but now it is. PR that is informed by data analytics offers the industry the opportunity to add even greater value to businesses.

So what’s possible? Well, big data in PR can identify who is leading conversations, the best timings to release certain stories, the best days for media engagement, audience behaviour trends and predictive analysis for how best to address crisis situations. If these powerful statistics can be harnessed it will only support the crafting of richer more focused, timely content that has a greater chance of success and impact on its targeted audience.

In the majority of industries, the current environment is one where agility, dynamism and the ability to adapt quickly and correctly wins out. Big data allows PR firms to negotiate the ever evolving industries they work in, with the real time analysis of their work allowing them to develop sharper strategies by being able to truly scrutinise the performance of their outputs.

If PR is set to capitalise on the advantages and enhanced wisdom big data can provide, we will all need to add ‘data scientist’ to the long list of skills expected of the modern PR professional. Having the ability to understand the facts and figures, and apply this to the creative process will ensure budgets are spent astutely and PR businesses and their clients get ahead and stay ahead.