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2019 PRedictions: Data science for PR

This blog is part of our PRedictions series, a collection of posts from PR and communications leaders offering insights, advice, and opinions on how our industry can grow in 2019. To view our full list of 2019 PRedictions, click here. Maurice Flynn, GDPR & Digital Training Course Event Organiser & Speaker, predicts:

As the UK situation with Brexit gets ever more confusing and uncertain, focusing on PR predictions for 2019 seems almost easy in comparison! My insights and predictions here come partly from the PRCA Council project work I’ve been involved with this year - aided by an excellent project team.

We have been focusing on the growing marketing trend for using data science techniques to better analyse how effective our PR activities are and therefore better compare our efforts to the rest of the marketing mix. I foresee this as a growing trend for 2019 not least because the tools and techniques required get ever easier to use - even for the layman.

However, the topic can have a soporific effect for some, so how can I summarise this in a way that makes it a un-boring and useful as possible? OK so here goes. If you have worked with very data led marketing e.g. direct mail, you will have been statistically proving for decades exactly how many £££’s your last activity added to the bottom line.

If you work in an (arguably) “less easily measured” channel like PR, you will often have been gathering data from all sorts of sources to piece together the proof that your activity worked. We still don’t have a “PR industry approved methodology” for proving financial return on investment. We know this because we surveyed 10+ top PR agencies earlier this year, who have probably worked for 1000’s of clients over the decades.

Yet, if we use the newer data science tools now available, we can quantify in detail the impact we've had, within the constraints of the data that’s available. Plus, the good news is that these tools have been much enhanced recently, so that they can be used even for those of us with a deep fear of maths and technical stuff.

These tools are now available from the big boys/girls like Google, Amazon and MS and also from a growing number of startups in the space. The costs are falling too so you can usually try them out for free. By the way, we’re preparing a summary on this topic from our project for the PRCA website so watch this space.

So, to summarise my prediction for PR for 2019… data science for PR, helping us to confidently quantify the amazing benefits we bring to clients and partners 365 days a year!  Merry Crimbo to all!