Early in my career, I'd declare I'm part of the creative class, in part, because of my dislike for math. Today, I still wouldn't trade my career for anything. But I've learned to love math.
The silos between art and science dissolved long ago. And every public relations professional should love math and, more specifically, data. Here are just three reasons.
1) Inform Strategy: Since hugging it out with data, I've been able to show clients exactly why I'm proposing a specific editorial strategy. It's all thanks to insights mined from search queries and social data.
Searches tell us what content an audience is looking for and social data tells us what content they're talking about. This is just one way data can inform strategy.
2) Create Content: We've been talking about this for years. And you may love or hate infographics at this point, but they remind us how data can fuel very visual content. Data is everywhere, it doesn't have to come from primary/expensive research.
Mappos is my all-time favorite example of how Zappos uses, without violating customer privacy, the zip code and item numbers from each order to create killer content.
3) Measure Success: Out of respect, I should just put a picture of Katie Paine here and call it a day. But first, I'll remind everyone in this data-laden world, the key is not just measuring...it's measuring success.
That requires agreeing on what success looks like before you get started. And there is a difference between progress metrics and success metrics. Progress metrics show a plan is working. Success metrics show the plan worked.
4) Optimize Content: A fourth reason? Hey, I told you I loved math, I didn't say I was good at it. We've discussed the need to tap data throughout the research, plan, execute and measure process.
Once we publish our client's (data-informed) content, we support it with paid discovery to drive audience to it more quickly than organic search. Performance data from this is layered with web analytics to see how the content is reasonating with our audience.
A follow-up check of search and social data makes sure nothing new has emerged. And each batch of content improves based on what you've learned from the previously published stories.
Art x Science = Innovation
When I started in content marketing, it was called custom publishing. And the big difference between then and now is how we've moved from 100 percent art-driven projects to projects driven by a mix of art and science.
Hopefully you've seen above that by tapping art and science, you'll make something better than either side of your brain could create by itself.
:: Kevin Dugan, @prblog
photo credit: B Tal via photopin cc