We have become a society mired in data. You’ve probably heard the saying, “if you are getting something for free you are not the customer, you are the product.”

By Danielle Tavernier Spears | daniellespears.me

We have become a society mired in data. You’ve probably heard the saying, “if you are getting something for free you are not the customer, you are the product.”

Sites like Google, Facebook and Mint.com have made our lives easier. Yet in reality these big data houses aggregate the information we provide to learn more about what we want, like and buy; all so that companies can market to us better.

The data collection opportunities for those of us working in communications are everywhere: open rates, clip reports, Facebook insights, web traffic, Google analytics, influencer scores, cost per click, click paths… yep, there are a lot. But how do you know what numbers are valuable? It’s easy to get caught up in the collection of every stat that comes your way, optimistically dumping it into Excel for (hopefully) future use, until you eventually have years of spreadsheets showing… well, something.

Speaking on the topic of big data, the CIA’s Chief Technology Officer Gus Hunt said, “The value of any piece of information is only known when you can connect it with something else that arrives at a future point in time… Since you can't connect dots you don't have, it drives us into a mode of, we fundamentally try to collect everything and hang on to it forever."

While Hunt was referencing Big Data, it’s a relatable concept. Public relations pros have evolved into statisticians; collecting data about our successes and interpreting it into meaningful insights and trends. We mine, collect and store data from campaigns to demonstrate the true value of our skills. So if you haven’t embraced data yet in public relations, you might need to consider a career change.


Article contributed by: Danielle Tavernier Spears

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