There’s a running joke that PR pros hate math outright and dislike numbers
Unfortunately, we have earned that reputation and have struggled to measure
meaningful results and present strong cases for our ideas and suggestions.
Numbers are necessary in our day-to-day routine, and to succeed, PR pros
must conquer their fear of math, data and statistics.
Here are three practical reasons why we need data on our side:
1. To strengthen pitches.
“Prove it!” If I had a nickel for every time I heard this from a reporter
after sending a pitch, I’d be a wealthy woman.
Don’t be afraid to use statistics to support ideas and opinions. If you’re
trying to stress the importance of recyclable materials, grab a stat from
the EPA about the amount of garbage thrown away each year to drive home
Here’s a tip: Subscribe to Pew Research Center,
which regularly issues email newsletters with its latest research. The
newsletters are often tied to current topics in the news, so you won’t have
to search high and low for a
2. To prove value.
Unless you work in finance, which shows literal return on
investment, proving the value of your work can be challenging. Change your
approach to reporting. (Luckily, many services and tools, particularly in
PR and marketing, automate the process.)
Rather than simply listing the activities you conducted over a given period
of time, give your client numbers and explain what they mean within the
context of your program goals, marketing goals and overall business goals.
Ultimately, leaders want to see impact, and if you can tell a story with
numbers—reach, engagement, website traffic, contribution to sales, etc.—
you’ll make their job easier and prove your work is worth their
3. To show potential.
Not only do these metrics (impressions, total views, social media
engagement) track results, they showcase the potential for further
exposure. A smart PR professional stays abreast of new media platforms,
social media networks, events and more, and in order to convince the
higher-ups that these new avenues are worthy of their resources, you must
make your case clearly. Use numbers to your advantage, e.g. “this platform
will reach an additional XX number of decision makers.”
Numbers aren’t frightening. They can make our lives much easier—and more
successful—but we must get over the false fears that so many of us have. If
you want to get ahead, use statistics, technology and data to your
A version of this post first appeared on the
Stern Strategy Group blog.