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Power up Your PR with Data Visualization

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Rebeca PopFor a long time, communication and math skills were believed to be mutually exclusive. In other words, a Public Relations professional was expected to be a good communicator and possess strong social and writing skills. Conversely, an IT professional or an engineer was expected to have a solid quantitative background and a math mindset.

Numbers Speak Louder Than Words
In the last couple of years, however, statements such as ‘If you can't count it, it doesn’t count’ or ‘Numbers speak louder than words’ have become relatively common. Not in IT, engineering, or any other quantitative field, but in Public Relations. A simple web search of ‘PR’ and ‘measurement’ returned dozens of results, ranging from scholarly articles, to opinion articles, and videos. However, data, research, numbers, and insights need to first be visualized in order to be communicated effectively. A similar attempt, this time of web searching ‘PR’ and ‘data visualization’, returned much fewer relevant results.

PR & Data Visualization – A Natural Pairing
While data visualization has only recently started being considered a stand-alone profession, its applicability to Public Relations is extensive. In fact, it is hard to imagine a more suited application for data visualization than Public Relations. Imagine the impact of a chart when attempting to persuade your client that social media criticism has been increasing versus reading through a paragraph full of user activity data. Or, picture a PR manager trying to pitch a new client using PowerPoint slides full of text versus a few graphs that effectively illustrate the key points.

No doubt, most of you agree that measurement is important. And, most likely, most of you concur that data visualization is a powerful tool to tell stories and persuade. But, when it comes to using data to tell stories, many professionals (including PR practitioners) lack a formal education.

In an attempt to help you make more informed data visualization decisions, I listed below a few resources that I use or read regularly:

-    Blog: Storytelling with Data  
-    Chart Chooser: Financial Times
-    Color Choice: Color Brewer
-    Icons: The Noun Project
-    Interactive Chart: Data Wrapper, Tableau

With this in mind, I hope more and more tactics, strategies, pitches, and presentations will be data-driven, or, even better, insight-driven. And I hope that effective visualization will be used to enhance Public Relations’ authority in the business world.

Rebeca Pop has seven years of experience collaborating with global CPG and automotive brands in the analytics and media measurement space. Currently, she works full-time as a Supervisor, Analytics at Publicis Media in Chicago.

In her spare time, she teaches Data Visualization at the University of Chicago and at DePaul University. Her strong belief is that technology and tools cannot replace the human ability to draw insights and communicate effectively with data. Rather, thoughtful data visualization inspires action, and that is what Rebeca aspires to teach her students.

Rebeca holds a MA from the University of Oklahoma and a BA from the University of Bucharest. She has presented her research and has won several top paper awards at national and international conference, and her scholarly work has been published in the Encyclopedia of Public Relations.

You can follow her on Twitter or on LinkedIn.

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