Guest Blog: Solving Business Challenges with Communications Data

Heather Whaling

Traditionally, the C-suite sets the business strategy, then loops in the communications department to develop strategies and campaigns that align with the overarching business objectives. But that model doesn’t account for the role communications data can play in informing—and calling audibles on—business strategy. With a thorough understanding of the various insights that your communications team is sitting on or could compile, you can gain fresh perspectives to inform creative, new strategies that solve problems, accelerate progress and grow your business.

Analyze an audience or market.

Maybe sales of a certain product are slumping, or you’re not getting interest from a certain demographic. Communications data can help with getting a pulse on target markets and audiences. For example, you could dissect social media conversation to understand what they care about and what their pain points are. Check out search trends. Conduct a media audit to uncover industry hot topics of customer behavior insight.

Words matter. So does consistency.

Communicators are sitting on a treasure trove of data that can inform how you talk about your brand and products. Even small tweaks in phrases or word selection can make a difference. If certain Facebook ads are performing better than others, or if A/B testing with your website is showing clear winners, you should start doubling down on the messaging that resonates.

But those findings shouldn’t just inform your communications tactics; they should inform your organization-wide approach. We recently completed a project for a client where we found that internal stakeholders were describing the organization in a variety of different ways—not only creating a confusing message, but also not using the descriptors that were most likely to resonate. With that in mind, every conversation they were having could be considered a missed opportunity. Your sales team would also benefit from incorporating these findings into their emails or phone scripts.

Find your white space.

In an increasingly crowded and competitive business environment, it’s extremely important to accurately zero in on your differentiators and build your business strategy around them. Communications data carries the distinct advantage of coming from a third party, as opposed to the inherent biases you might have about your own company or product. It’s easy to get too close to your own brand—by incorporating outside perspective, you can get an objective look at how you are perceived within the marketplace. For example, you could audit media coverage of various products over the past year, or compare how different competitors are being discussed on social media.

The key to any of these methods is that communications data shouldn’t live in a silo. Findings should be cascaded to other functions—sales, HR, R&D, business strategy, the C-Suite, etc.—to ensure that you’re not just iterating in your communications approach; you’re addressing complex business challenges.

Heather Whaling is the founder and CEO ofGeben Communication, a PR firm that leverages data and insights to help organizations make business decisions.

Heather Whaling