Why Your PR & Marketing Data Needs a Single Source of Truth (& How to Achieve It)

A close-up image of a telescope positioned toward a city in the background. This image is being used as a thumbnail for a blog explaining how to identify a single source of truth for marketing data
A close-up image of a telescope positioned toward a city in the background. This image is being used as a thumbnail for a blog explaining how to identify a single source of truth for marketing data

Did you know that 90% of the world’s data on the internet was generated in the last two years alone? This data brings about access to more business-critical insights than ever before. While this is positive, it has made the landscape more difficult for management teams to navigate. We particularly see this is the case for B2B and B2C PR and marketing professionals who rely heavily on digital channels and the data they produce.

PR and Marketing teams who bring external insights gleaned from online media into the boardroom make more informed brand, customer, and competitive decisions — but this isn’t the case if the data hasn’t come from one single tool.

During this blog post, we’ll walk you through what is meant by a ‘single source of truth’ (SSOT), how this differs from a ‘single version of the truth’ (SVOT), why both are important for marketing and comms teams — and the process to follow to obtain them!

What is a ‘single source of truth’ and how does this differ from a ‘single version of the truth’?

While some use the terms 'single source of truth’ and 'single version of the truth' interchangeably, they are in fact different.

A single source of truth is a data storage principle to always retrieve data from one point of access. For example, analysing media data within a command centre that has various other data streams coming in from other systems, such as business intelligence (BI) solutions.

On the contrary, a single version of the truth is the view that everyone in the organisation agrees that data from one singular provider is the real and trusted figure. For example, having one global media intelligence provider, rather than many, in order to obtain a holistic view.

Single Source of TruthSingle Version of Truth
Definition/ PrincipleData storage principleData source principle
Data points usedVarious data streams being stored in one command centreUsing only data from one single provider
ExampleUsing different BI solutions to collect data and analyse it in one command centreHaving one global media intelligence data provider, rather than many, in order to obtain a holistic view

The problem with having data in different locations and from different providers is that they don’t communicate with each other. Having multiple and competing versions of reality is confusing and this disjointed view of business performance often leads to poor decision making. Inconsistent and contradictory data is a sure way to erode trust in your numbers. For years marketing, comms and PR professionals have fought to have their say in the boardroom — the last thing you want is to damage trust in your strategy and data before you’ve gained it. 

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The advantages of a single source of truth

Data misalignments caused by having multiple systems that capture and measure data can have serious consequences. Without an SSOT or SVOT, it’s easy for B2B and B2C marketing teams to end up focusing on the wrong activities that fail to gain interest from their target customers and generate the most appropriate ROI. This is because teams end up being pulled in different directions — many of which will be the wrong ones.

Obtaining a single source of truth or a single version of truth is critical as it ensures that the data you’re using for reporting is reliable, accurate, and comparable. It has the benefit of providing management with a holistic overview of their PR and marketing strategies by enabling their teams to speak in the same data language. More specifically, having consensus on where to pool your information, what sources of information are flowing into that pool, and how you'll report on that information ensures your team will have:

  • Reliable and accurate data
  • Comparable data
  • Fewer silos
  • Increases trustworthiness

Let’s explore the advantages in more detail.

Reliable and Accurate data

The quality of media intelligence vendor data varies, with some being more precise, up-to-date, and consistent than others. Such variables are impacted by a whole range of elements such as how current the platform's data is, how many publications it tracks, how many languages it supports, etc. This challenge is eliminated when a SSOT is activated by consolidating vendors and only using one globally – you just need to make sure you choose the right provider; but more on that in the second half of this article!

Comparable data

How media intelligence providers go about organising unstructured data (such as online news and social media mentions) will differ from vendor to vendor. In turn, this has an impact on analytic results, as well as your ability to benchmark your local PR and Marketing teams and competitors against one another. This challenge is very apparent when it comes to metrics. While metrics may share a similar name, they can, in fact, be measuring very different things. Often differences can come down to when, where, and how the data is collected and structured. Unless you’re using the same provider throughout reporting, it’s near impossible to compare data. This challenge often catches decision-makers out, but a SSOT combats this challenge.

Since a SSOT allows professionals to connect the dots between data types, it also makes data highly comparable. That way businesses can compare apples to apples and gain a true overview of their progress while understanding the different factors contributing to moving the needle.

Fewer silos

It’s not uncommon for teams across the organisation to struggle collectively building the company when business units don’t speak the same data language. We often see this as the case in sales and marketing. Obtaining data from a singular place can break down silo working as all departments have access to the same data-driven insights. For example, companies can spot patterns between customer data, lead generation, business data, IT data, marketing data, social media data, and more purely through their choice of data collection and integration. If your Marketing and PR team understands how their work is impacting other divisions (and vice versa), they’re more inclined to work collaboratively. Increasing alignment around performance metrics across departments can also increase the volume of information exchanged between the department's different leadership teams. And, as you've gathered by now, open lines of communication are essential to breaking down siloes between departments.

If you're keen to start more collaborative conversations amongst internal teams, consider taking a customer-centric approach. After all, your customer is the thread that links all functions and systems together, so keeping your customer as true north, and making customer data more accessible, will naturally create alignment and shared goals.

A team of people gather around a table, smiling. The table has a laptop on and lots of paperwork.

Trustworthiness

Using one singular provider that offers one consistent view of the same metrics reduces the chance of leaders accidentally inflating their teams’ results. 

When a single source of truth is in place, professionals have a chance to access and blend data from different solutions. This gives them a real 360-view of their company and systems, preventing them from making decisions based on one stream of data. When everybody is singing from the same hymn sheet and are able to connect the dots between data types, you have more trust and confidence in the numbers, and therefore decision making.

Establishing a single source of truth

According to a study by HubSpot, the marketing function alone uses on average 12 different tools, so you can only imagine how many tools a company collectively uses when you start including the likes of customer and sales tech into the mix! A single source of truth focuses on managing disparate PR and marketing data by integrating and synchronising data from various sources. The most common way businesses do this is through command centres, also known as master data management tools.

Command centres offer the ability to visually unify business data from across all business functions, in one interface.


The idea of a command centre is that all business-critical data required to run a company, not just marketing and PR data points, are stored and made available from within one platform. That platform should then be used as the ultimate source of information on anything and everything to do with your business, competitive landscape, and customer, no matter the department and function you work in.

Tip: Check out our competitive analysis capabilities.

By using command centres, businesses can find anomalies and patterns, and present them back in a singular view. This aids them to create scalable system strategies, capitalise on their strengths, and put systems in place to improve on their weaknesses/ act faster on external opportunities and threats.

Establishing a single version of the truth

You don’t necessarily have to have one source of truth in place in order to obtain a single version of truth. However, in order for a SSOT to be successful, one must have a SVOT agreed upon.

So how do you go about choosing a vendor to act as your single version of truth?

Choosing the vendor best suited for your needs

A quick Google search will uncover tons of media intelligence providers, but with that being said, I can only imagine how difficult it is for PR and digital marketing teams to decide which is best for their needs. Sometimes having too many options can lead to analysis paralysis. To help with selection, check out the important questions to ask media monitoring vendors below.

A man sits at his desk working on his laptop. On top of the desk there's also a cup of coffee, notebooks and pens, as well as a plant.

To make sure a provider is right for you, I’d recommend mapping out your exact requirements before subscribing. Outline your PR and marketing objectives and ask the below questions.

Also, look at the breadth of their coverage and size of marginal errors — these important details will make a world of difference and will guarantee meaningful results.

Some questions to consider:

The following questions are useful to consider regardless of whether you're a B2B or B2C brand.

  1. How big is their source database? What types of outlets do they cover?
    You want to make sure their source database includes all of the media you intend to engage with — including outlets from first, second, and third-tier publications. If you want a rounded summary of your PR efforts, you’ll also need them to cover paid, earned, shared, and owned (PESO) media. All media types work in tandem, so it's vital that professionals avoid looking at them in silos when making data-driven marketing decisions.
  2. How can they help you measure and identify the right metrics to quantify your PR and marketing efforts more accurately?
    Look at the types of measurements they provide. Do you want a simple media monitoring service or a service with multi-measurement frameworks that explain more about your target customer? For example, can the vendor help you measure multiple data elements across the customer journey? Finally, consider their measurement accuracy and read reviews.
  3. How fast can they update you?
    Modern media is fast-moving, so it pays to be updated in real-time (or as close to as possible). Consider how and when they provide you with updates (weekly, daily, hourly) and look for services with automated email alert systems.
  4. What does their support network look like?
    If you’re PR and Marketing teams are spread across the world, you’ll want a measurement service with local industry knowledge so you’re not wasting valuable time explaining things over the phone. You’ll want 24/7 support regardless of time zones and public holidays. Depending on your requirements, look for a software provider with local and/or international teams. And, either way, they should both be able to provide one-on-one support when and where you need it.
  5. Do they provide retrospective data?
    Having access to old campaigns and historical data means you can mirror the elements of the marketing campaigns that worked. This will then ensure previous mistakes aren’t made twice, therefore enhancing your chances of your content strategy resonating with your target customer. To make sure your data-driven marketing plan is based on a sufficient sample size, I recommend you request access to information from up to two years ago, then use this to benchmark new campaigns against old ones.

*Disclaimer* Finding a SVOT is not always as simple as it sounds.

A woman sits at a desk with a laptop, notebook, organiser and glasses. She has her head in her hand looking stressed.

It has to be said, implementing a single version of truth can be a time-consuming process, and I’m not just talking about the time required to evaluate the sheer number of vendors out there to decide on.

As organisations grow, the ‘single version of truth’ challenge becomes more apparent and complex. One example the Enterprise team at Meltwater often comes across is local PR and Digital Marketing teams having differing preferences over the tool provider they choose compared to the one HQ wishes to implement. In most cases, local regions feel their needs are completely different from that of their geographic neighbours. There are of course differences that only certain providers can help with, for example, the tracking of Asian social channels such as Weibo. With that being said, a strong vendor will be able to cater to all needs — both local and global.

Before a SVOT can be implemented, corporate and field marketing must first agree on the metrics they’re using to measure performance. In most cases, such alignment requires buy-in around changing current KPIs, since metrics are measured differently depending on the vendor used. There’s an art to consolidating and aligning reporting and analytics — and change management plays a crucial role in this.

Tip: We offer custom reporting options in our media intelligence suite that help you with that.

Create clarity with Meltwater Global Solutions

Meltwater is the leader in media intelligence, providing software solutions to over 30,000 organisations around the world.

At Meltwater, we believe that corporate solutions need local support. With a presence across six continents and clients present in 125 countries, we pride ourselves on global experience and local expertise. That’s why so many of our clients use Meltwater as their SSOT.

By tracking the largest content database in the industry, our tool eliminates blind spots. Through AI crawling, our media monitoring tool sifts through more than 275,000 global online news sources, comments, review sites, forums, message boards, and over 300 million blogs in the blink of an eye. We ensure no stone is left unturned, so you always know where exactly where you stand from a global and local perspective.

Meltwater captures real-time data and presents it into digestible dashboards.

When your business chooses Meltwater as your SVOT, you’re able to benefit from our partnerships with leading local and global news and social companies. From Dow Jones to WeChat and Weibo, we hold partnerships with a global network of industry leaders so you can sleep well knowing that you can track and analyse the full picture — not just a section of it.

Our service is unified across the globe, ensuring you have the consistency needed to effectively benchmark and measure the impact across countries, languages, and continents.

A screenshot of Meltwater Display's brand monitor dashboard, which showcases information around sentiment and mentions from various sources.

Remove data silos with Meltwater Display & API as your SSOT

If you’re currently using a command centre, Meltwater offers an export and streaming API tool so you can blend data from your own applications or third-party BI systems with online news articles and social conversations.

As a full enterprise partner of Twitter, with the largest global news source base, our APIs enable analysis to be built on top of the most complete data set possible.

The Meltwater APIs give you out-of-the-box, real-time integration, ensuring you have all the insights needed to run a successful and competitive data-driven enterprise in one interface. Whether you want to see raw volume or specifics, the choice is yours. You have ultimate control over how, where, and when you receive media analytics through our APIs.

Alternatively, if your company doesn’t currently have a command centre, Meltwater Display is the most appropriate tool for big data integration and visualisation.

A screenshot of Meltwater Display's campaign tracker showing media intelligence data.

Professionals around the world use Meltwater Display as a SSOT, making sense of internal and external data. Meltwater Display integrates content and data from Meltwater, Salesforce, Zendesk, and a variety of web analytics sources to provide a complete 360° view of your brand and business. The Command Centre creates flexible and dynamic visualisations that tell real-time stories of the metrics and KPIs that matter most to your business while adding context and insight.

Meltwater Display is perfect for companies struggling to present complex information in accessible formats. We achieve this through cohesive and interactive dashboards. Whatsmore, visualisations change automatically in response to shifts in data. That way, you can quickly access critical insights and signals for dynamic situational awareness, in-meeting answers, and smarter decision making.

A screenshot of Meltwater's data visualization tool, Meltwater Display. The dashboard includes various graphs, inlcuding bar charts and pie charts.

So there you have it, what is meant by a single source of truth and how to obtain this for your PR and marketing data! If you’d like to learn more about what this could look like for your organisation, or how obtaining one could speed up your marketing sales optimisation process, fill out the form below and we’ll be in touch!

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