Recently, Media Bullseye published an article on big data, its availability, and how it can be used to benefit PR. Big data and access to it has also made news on a larger scale in the months following the US presidential election.
In a recent New York Times article, Amy Harmon discussed a growing community of data-minded people who are working together to back up the breadth of data hosted on government sites.
This activity among the data community has important implications for the PR industry and its use of such information.
According to Harmon’s article, scientists, librarians, and other data enthusiasts have formed organizations within the last several months that work together to back up government data.
Data about the environment and climate change is of particular interest, as the current administration has already made changes to certain information on the websites of federal agencies that work with the energy sector.
There have been changes to the Department of Energy’s website, specifically the removal of charts that show the connection between coal and greenhouse gas emissions.
The disappearance of data from government sites affirms some of the concerns researchers and academics have about the continued ease of access to scientific information.
What does this mean for the PR industry?
In recent years, PR and marketing professionals have become more interested in how they can integrate data with creative content to produce more engaging campaigns.
The digital music service Spotify, for example, created a campaign at the end of 2016 that gathered its listeners’ data from the previous year, pulled out quirky bits of information—like the data from one account that played the Hamilton soundtrack 5,376 times—and deployed it within content on billboards. This humorous use of data increased the brand’s visibility and created favorability among a large audience.
In addition to implementing brand data, PR professionals now also have the opportunity to use open data sets of larger consumer behavior to enhance their work. Previously, PR practitioners didn’t have easy access to big data sets, as the costs were too high. With open data available on government sites, however, PR professionals have the opportunity to view large collections of information. Analyzing behavioral patterns in the data can guide the decision making of PR professionals and allow them to personalize campaigns towards the trends apparent in the data.
As PR begins to explore the possibilities of using this information, hindering the access to it could harm the progress of the industry. Additionally, the public response demonstrates the PR issues that can arise when access is denied to information that was previously freely available. The continued work of data-savers will be important for PR professionals looking to preserve access to data and the ability to use it in their work.
CARMA’s Renewables and Climate Change: Global Media and Business Perceptions, an event taking place at the National Press Club in Washington, DC on April 20 at 8:00 AM, will continue these conversations about data and media coverage, specifically within the energy industry. This free event will feature a panel discussion with experts about media coverage of climate change, energy supply, and renewals, as well as an exclusive presentation of data on these topics.