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 professionals to navigate. We particularly see this is the case for 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 and competitive decisions… But this isn’t the case if the data hasn’t come from one single source.

“The immense amount of data available today has led to major PR and marketing decisions being made based on fragmented data sources.”

During this two-part article, I’ll walk you through what is meant by a ‘single source of truth’, how this differs from a ‘single version of the truth’ and why both are important. Stay tuned for the second part of the article where I’ll discuss how to obtain them both.

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

While some use 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 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.”

The problem with having data in different locations (single source of truth) and from different providers (single version of the truth) is that they don’t communicate with each other. Having multiple and competing versions of the truth 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 before you’ve gained it.

No alt text provided for this image

The benefits of a single source of truth and a single version of truth

Data misalignments caused by having multiple systems that capture and measure data can have serious consequences. Without a single version/ source of the truth, it’s easy for marketing and PR teams to end up focusing on the wrong activities that fail to 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/ version of truth is critical as it ensures that the data we’re using for reporting is reliable, accurate, and comparable. It has the benefit of providing management with a holistic overview of their strategies by enabling their teams to speak in the same data language.

Let’s explore the benefits 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 real-time the platform really is, how many sources it tracks, how many languages it supports etc. This challenge is eliminated when a single version of truth 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 vendors to vendor. In turn, this has an impact on analytic results, as well as your ability to benchmark your local teams and competition 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 enough impossible to compare data. A single version of truth combats this challenge.

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

Breaking down 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. One source of truth can break down silo working as all departments have access to the same insights. For example, companies who activate single sources of truth can spot patterns between consumer data, business data, IT data, marketing data, PR data, social media data and more – purely through data collection and integration. If your team understands how their work is impacting other divisions (and vice versa), they’re more inclined to work collaboratively. Cohesive working through information exchange also has the added benefit of greatly impacting alignment between the leadership team too.

No alt text provided for this image


Using one singular provider that offers one consistent view of the same metrics reduces the chance of leaders inflating their teams’ results. If figures can quickly be challenged, people are less likely to over-represent their impact.

When a single source of truth is in place, professionals have a chance to access and blend data from different sources. This gives them a real 360-view of their company, 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.

Hopefully, by now the differences between a single source of truth and single version of truth are clear. In the second half of the article, I’ll be walking through how to obtain both of them. Stay tuned! If you have any questions in the meantime, fill out the form below and we’ll be in touch.