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Written by Team Wizikey

September 20, 2022

Leverage data intelligence to convert it into tangible outcomes: Nakul

With a master’s degree in English Literature, Nakul pursued PG Diploma in Advertising & Public Relations from IIMC, and post that he was able to secure a campus placement at one of the global public relations agencies. With over four years of experience in public relations and marketing communications, he has worked with several leading […]

Leverage data intelligence to convert it into tangible outcomes:  Nakul

With a master’s degree in English Literature, Nakul pursued PG Diploma in Advertising & Public Relations from IIMC, and post that he was able to secure a campus placement at one of the global public relations agencies. With over four years of experience in public relations and marketing communications, he has worked with several leading global brands and corporates.

Q. Give us a little bit of the backstory about how you came to the field.

After my graduation in English Literature from Delhi University, I casually decided to take IIMC’s (Indian Institute of Mass Communication) entrance exam, and luckily, I sailed through it. Thereafter, I pursued PG Diploma in Advertising & Public Relations and at the end of the nine-month program, I was able to secure a campus placement at one of the global public relations agencies. It is some four years ago, in the year 2018 that I started my career in PR and I stuck to it, as you can see. The only thing that has changed is – the transition from the agency to the brand side. 

Q. What was your first interaction/experience with data? What did it mean to you then?

When I started my career, I was quite junior, and my job was heavy on reporting. I used to maintain repositories of data which was quite a cumbersome task. Also, I really didn’t understand the importance of data at that point, and it seemed quite a futile exercise. It took me quite some time to observe how that data reporting helped inform brand strategies and tactics at a broader level.

If you ask me today, I will not mind doing that cumbersome exercise all over again because now I know so much about how, when, and where it needs to be utilized. Generally, when we say ‘data’, we only consider the quantitative aspect of it, and we ignore the qualitative insights that come along with it. 

In PR & Communications, both qualitative and quantitative data come to use, depending on the purpose, context, scale, and several other factors. It is this well-rounded data that help brand custodians guide their respective brands in carving out a niche space and voice in an otherwise cluttered market. 

Q. How did you start using data/metrics in delivering your campaigns? Can you share a few anecdotes?

One needs to look at multidimensional aspects of storytelling- starting from the number of impressions in different media outlets to the type of sentiment generated, success in the brand’s message delivery, overall reach, amplification and visibility of target phrases or keywords, etc. while executing or delivering a PR or a communications campaign. 

I used to handle CSR & Sustainability Communications of a reputed FMCG Company, and data mapping and measurement really helped me get some of the best impact stories out for the brand. I had to do a lot of backward planning to be able to pitch the right stories and get the desired impact. This began with studying the bulk of prior data (both qualitative and quantitative) in regard to the brand’s CSR communications, identifying the gaps, and then working towards weaving a cohesive media strategy that could help put the brand’s purpose above the brand itself.

Q. Did you come across any challenges in communications, and did you feel data helped you in any way to solve the problem?

A lot of times but I would really like to call out this one instance when I took refuge in data analysis to help one of my clients in the past understand the rationale behind our competitor’s rise in media vis a vis dipping interest in our brand. 

The reason lies in the ‘frequency’ of our PR & Communications campaigns. After studying data for the past six months, we were quick to realize how we were overexposing our brand and representatives to the media, leading to an information overload, reflected in the form of a sharp dip in media interest. It was quite a fascinating insight that we derived from our data repository, and it really helped us combat the challenge at hand. 

Q. What is the most important metric/data point for you as a comms person?

For me, monthly and quarterly media audits and performance reports serve as a great compass to figure out an overarching media strategy and approach or decide on future press goals. It really helps understand what’s working or not working for a respective brand, and one can also see the value addition that is being made to the brand’s reputation and engagement on an ongoing basis. 

For instance- say, you are a brand ‘X’ and you are noticing that your ‘Y’ business is getting more press interest than the ‘Z’ business, it’s time that you focus on two things- identifying more stories for the ‘Y’ business as it is likely to get press interest but at the same time, developing newer ways to get interested on the ‘Z’ business. By doing this, you will be able to set out realistic and achievable goals on a month-on-month basis. Similarly, say data indicates that your message delivery has been on point, but amplification has been on the low. It’s time that you alter your press strategy and focus more on amplification than the message framework model. When you do this on a regular basis, you will realize data has become your ultimate guide and it is benefitting both you as well as the brand.

Q. What tools are your best / fav to help you in data insights?

I think the times have changed. From manual reporting, most of us have switched to automated reporting, thereby, cutting down on extra labor, time, and effort. I depend on a lot of these automated tools to gather day-to-day insights, but I really don’t have a personal favorite. Each of these tools that I use helps me with one thing or the other.

Q. How do you see data in comms and marketing evolve in the coming days?

In one of the surveys, 2/3rd of business leaders confirmed that they maintain data every day, but 78% reported challenges in using that data. This points to the lacuna that while data is being maintained, it is not being utilized to the best of its potential. However, with the growing dependence on data, especially in marketing and communications, I see our profession betting big on data and leveraging data intelligence to convert it into tangible outcomes for a brand and its equity. 

Q. Is there any metric you wished you had access to?

Yes, so many metrics, and the most important of these is ‘love’ and ‘favorability’ towards a brand amongst its customers. Who would not want to have access to this metric?  But truth be told, there’s a reason why emotion and logic co-exist. While data is extremely crucial, it is also important for us not to let the focus on the human aspects of storytelling go awry. 

Q. Would you like to share three things that worked for your brand or your two cents for the budding comms professionals?

I have only one small piece of advice for the young entrants and newbies and that is, “Don’t fear data. Learn it. Master it. Make it your biggest ally right from the beginning and you’ll see how it helps you grow.”

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