Data-Centric Storytelling: Driving Content Forward with Stats

Data-Centric Storytelling: Driving Content Forward with Stats

5 March 2017

In an age of data overload, how do we use numbers to tell compelling stories?

For the past ten years, analytics has entrenched itself in the fabric of marketing communications and public relations. Data analytics tools, including media monitoring platforms, generate and capture tremendous amounts of information, providing resources for marketing and PR departments to reach fact-based conclusions, target key audiences, and produce reliable content.

However, with an ever-growing emphasis on data, it’s easy to lose sight of the story. While data drives content forward, numbers lack validity without insights and need to be given power through qualitative narrative. Effective data-centric marketing and PR professionals recognize that data alone isn’t enough unless it can guide decisions, optimize processes, or tell a story.

But how do you find the narrative within the numbers?

Content creation and storytelling in the digital age is akin to the scientific method. First, you ask a question, then you either prove or disprove your original question, and finally you communicate your results to an audience.

Original questions are often rooted in numerical observations – data-centric content includes an inquiry that is measurable. To begin, simply ask: How, What, When, Who, Which, Why, or Where?

After asking a question, create the methodology for answering. Background research helps to pinpoint specific variables and key factors. As data is analyzed and collected, the story begins to take shape. Predictions and questions are not always accurate, but often this helps to build dimension within the story – it forces the writer (or researcher) to delve deeper than surface level understanding or speculation. After you’ve arrived at a conclusion, you can finally communicate the results. Additionally, there are copious data visualization tools that you can use to display statistical data, which let audiences interact with underlying data when embedded within the story.

With the widespread accessibility of data and implementation of data-driven content, how do you separate yourself? Use Internal data.

Internal data, as it suggests, is any data generated from a company’s internal operations. It can include anything from sales results to marketing intelligence to operational trends. Most companies have access to a wealth of information stemming from internal databases, processes, software, and reporting that can be harnessed and leveraged to create original content. Whereas external data is available to the public, internal data is unique in its brand specificity – original data-based content cuts through the noise. It has the capability to attract attention, build brand and stakeholder reputation, solidify corporate partnerships, increase employee ambassadors, engage your community, and generate brand value. Storytelling using internal data can ultimately, position your brand as an industry authority, building value and credibility amongst audiences.

Many brands are already sitting on compelling and original stories; let them come to fruition. Consider every resource at your disposal, and I guarantee that you’ll find the data to create brand-specific stories that are not only original but transparent and valuable. Content filled with fresh, unique insights garner greater reach, attention, and help solidify brand authority.

And remember, if the goal for your brand is to deliver accurate insights with tangible value, data must be central to the conversation. If you’re ready to embark on a journey towards data-centric storytelling, download our ebook to help you.

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