Working Big Data into your Next PR Plan

We’ve all heard the term “Big Data,” but there is still some confusion as to what Big Data actually is. Then, on a more related note, how does Big Data tie into the public relations landscape?

To keep it brief, Big Data is the utilization of advancing technology and an increasing flow of data that results in more high-level, integrated decision making. The key to this idea is decision making. While we can track and analyze data, it’s important to remember that the way we interpret and gather insights based off the presented data is how we better understand our competitors, target audiences, media and other trends.

Now that we understand Big Data, let’s talk PR.

PR planning consists of research, uncovering data and then interpreting that data so we can better understand and decide what strategic steps should be taken to enhance the reputation and business of our clients. With data-driven insights, we can successfully integrate new and creative ways of thinking into our future PR campaigns and content.

Here’s how you can start incorporating Big Data into your next PR campaign:

Situation Analysis

The situation analysis is where we look at the current position of an organization and lay out its internal strengths and weaknesses, external opportunities and threats (more commonly known as SWOT). We can use data and research to compare our clients’ media impressions, social media metrics and general online reputation with competing companies and make decisions based off of what we find.

Coca-Cola, for example, uses data to guide its marketing and product development decisions. In an interview with Coca-Cola’s Director of Data and Strategy and Precision Marketing Justin De Graaf, he noted how the company uses consumer feedback, either by phone, email or social media, to understand the needs of their target audiences and as a response, make any necessary strategy adjustments.


When setting our objectives, we use the acronym SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound). Our objectives are what we want to accomplish, and Big Data can help us set realistic campaign goals.

Here at The Fearey Group, we’ve had the opportunity to work with a broad range of clients, using data on multiple occasions to drive our strategy. For example, when promoting the opening of Next Level Burger’s most recent locations in Seattle, Concord, CA and Brooklyn, we studied the demographics of each location and leveraged that information to establish core target audiences, identify an appropriate timeline and set realistic media and social media goals. As a result, we were able to reach the right people with the right message, growing Next Level Burger’s fan base well beyond initial expectations.


Big Data guides us in making well-informed, strategic decisions. Using data and research, we can present content through channels that we’ve identified as relevant for reaching our target audiences.

Netflix, with more than 100 million subscribers, utilizes consumer data to pinpoint the interests of its target audiences. Using this data, Netflix can identify and suggest what TV shows or movies might be of interest to its subscribers, thus improving the overall customer experience.


Once your campaign ends, go back to your objectives and take a look at your hits and misses. Metrics including social media analytics, media impressions and survey results will help you determine the overall success of your campaign and allow you to make any changes before the next phase of outreach.

The Lenny Wilkens Foundation is an organization The Fearey Group has had the privilege to work with over the last six years. Each year we provide event and social media support for its Annual Celebrity Weekend fundraiser. Using social media metrics, attendance and fundraising numbers, we can better evaluate the event’s success and make any necessary updates for the following year.

Emerging technology allows us to understand and analyze scenarios with more of a purpose. Data alone will not answer why certain trends are happening, but the valuable insights we create as a result of data will help us better understand the competitors, target audiences, media and other trends affecting our clients, transforming the way we think and the PR industry as a whole.