Skip to content
Illustration showing a large pink gavel on a burnt yellow background. Why your marketing team needs a single source of truth (SSOT) blog post.

What Is a Single Source of Truth and Why Do You Need It?

Perri Robinson

Aug 18, 2023

Data generated on the internet means we have access to more business-critical insights than ever before. While this is positive, it has made it more difficult than ever for management teams to pull insights and identify important data from superfluous data. We particularly see this is the case for B2B and B2C PR and marketing professionals who rely heavily on digital channels. Data analytics is, therefore, essential.

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 a single source of truth.

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!

SSOT Meaning: What is a Single Source of Truth?

A single source of truth (SSOT) is a data storage principle to always retrieve data from one point of access.

For example, analyzing media data within a command centre that has various other data streams coming in from other systems, such as business intelligence (BI) solutions.

How Does 'Single Source of Truth' Differ From ‘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 version of the truth is the view that everyone in the organization 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 Truth (SSOT)Single Version of Truth (SVOT)
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 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. 

People sitting at a table working. A woman in a yellow jumper points at a laptop while a man sits next to her looking on.

What Are the Advantages of Using a Single Source of Truth (SSOT)?

Data misalignments, caused from using multiple systems to capture and measure data, can have serious consequences. Without an SSOT or SVOT, it’s easy for marketing teams to focus on the wrong activities. You'll end up in a rabbit hole that will ultimately fail to gain interest from your target customers, generating minimal ROI.

Identifying and solidifying 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.

Enabling teams to speak in the same data language has the added benefit of providing management with an accurate holistic overview of PR and marketing strategies.

Let’s explore the advantages in more detail:

Reliable and accurate data

The quality of media intelligence data that vendors provide will vary, with some being more precise, up-to-date, and consistent than others. When researching a data partner to work with, be sure you fully understand how current the platform's data is, how many publications it tracks, how many languages it supports, etc. These factors will impact the breadth and richness of the data you have access to. Additionally, if you work with multiple venders, you may find your data is constantly skewed or doesn't match.

Tip: Make sure you choose the right provider! More on that later in the article.

Comparable data

How media intelligence providers go about organizing 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, your ability to benchmark against your competitors, and trust in your metrics.

If the when, where, and how of your data collection is based on multiple venders it’s near impossible to compare data accurately.

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 large organizations to struggle with encouraging meaningful growth when they don’t speak the same data language. Obtaining data from a singular place can break down silo working as all departments have access to the same data-driven insights.

When sales, marketing, and PR teams work together from a single source of truth, companies can spot patterns between customer data, lead generation, business data, IT data, marketing data, social media data, and more. 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 departments. Open lines of communication are essential to breaking down siloes between departments.

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

Increased trustworthiness

Using one singular provider that offers a consistent view of the same metrics reduces the possibility of executives inflating their teams’ results. 

When a single source of truth is in place, leaders have a real 360-view of their company and systems, preventing them from making decisions based on disparate streams of data. You have more trust and confidence in the numbers and, therefore, decision making.

How To Establish a Single Source of Truth (SSOT)

According to a study by HubSpot, the marketing function alone uses 12 different tools, on average, so you can only imagine how many tools a company uses across the board! A single source of truth focuses on managing potentially contrasting PR and marketing data by integrating and synchronizing data that comes from various sources. The most common way businesses do this is through command centers, also known as master data management tools.

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

The idea of a command center 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 base.

Tip: Check out our Meltwater Media Intelligence Suite with its competitive analysis capabilities.

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

How To Establish a Single Version of Truth (SVOT)

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 how do you decide which is best for your specific needs? Sometimes having too many options can lead to analysis paralysis.

To help with selection, start with these important questions to ask media monitoring vendors.

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.

Some questions to consider:

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

1. How big is their source database and 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 well-rounded summary of your PR efforts, you’ll also need them to cover paid, earned, shared, and owned 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 identify and measure the right metrics to quantify your PR and marketing efforts?

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?

3. How fast can they update you?

Modern media moves fast, 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 your PR and marketing teams are spread across the world, you’ll want a service with local industry knowledge and language capabilities. Depending on your requirements, look for a software provider with local and/or international teams. 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 compare performance Y/Y and iterate on marketing campaigns that worked. To make sure your data-driven marketing plan is based on a sufficient sample size, we 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 SSOT 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.

As organizations grow, the ‘single source 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 neighbors. 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 SSOT and SVOT can be established, teams must first agree on the metrics they’re using to measure performance. In most cases, such alignment requires buy-in around changing some or all KPIs.

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

Create Your SSOT With the Meltwater Suite

Meltwater is the industry leader in media intelligence, providing software solutions to over 30,000 organizations 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 single source of truth.

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 SSOT, you benefit from our partnerships with leading local and global news and social companies. From WeChat to Weibo, we hold partnerships with a global network of industry leaders so you can sleep well knowing that you can track and analyze 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.

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 X (formerly 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 visualization.

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 Center creates flexible and dynamic visualizations 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. Whats more, visualizations 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 organization, or how obtaining one could speed up your marketing sales optimization process, fill out the form below and we’ll be in touch!