No More Excuses: PR Flacks Need to Embrace Data

I’ve heard it over and over again in our profession: “I went into PR because I don’t like math.” More so than in other professions, PR folk (and many in marketing too) tend to steer clear of numbers.

Unfortunately, for those of us math phobes, “It’s time for an attitude adjustment,” as my mom would often say to me as a kid. Why? Because the world has changed dramatically in recent years. Every corporate function is using data and analytics to make better decisions and reduce risk. Marketing and PR are no exception.

Many of the forward-thinking corporate comms functions are hiring data scientists to process data, provide insights, and explain their value to the organization. If we are to be keepers of corporate reputation we had better be able to measure and monitor sentiment in the marketplace.

Unfortunately, for those of us math phobes, it’s time for an attitude adjustment.

I was forced to face my fear of math earlier in my career. I decided to get an MBA where there was no escaping hardcore statistics, finance and accounting – lots of math for someone who only made it to trigonometry in high school. That was followed by a stint as a product manager at Visa. Along the way, I realized math wasn’t the scary thing I had always thought it was: it was actually a tool to problem-solve.

We look at math and data as an important means to an end at iQ 360. My business partner Jeff has an M.S. degree in mass communication – not a subject matter you immediately associate with numbers – but he’s one of the strongest quants I know, analyzing survey results and reading spreadsheets to pick out the data that is most relevant to our clients.

As PR and marketing professionals, we have to add data science to our list of skills quickly. This requires a mindset of openness, not fear and avoidance. Data-driven communicators will rule the earth!