Decoding data – driven stories: Dealing with data gatekeepers for an insight-driven story

Any good communications professional – whether they appreciate the fast-paced agency life or prefer to strategise in-house – will at some point push for a story based on data-driven insights. On the surface, this approach always seems like an easy and effective method to land a credible story: procure data that complements your brand narrative, and pitch it to your target audience. 

But those who have worked extensively with data will tell you it’s never as easy as it seems. 

But never fear! Here’s a rough guide to getting started on your next data-driven story: 

Start with the end result in mind 

Data-driven stories typically involve multiple parties, from PR agencies to in-house communication managers to data scientists or analysts. Because of this, it’s not uncommon to hear various forms of this frustrating yet classic exchange: 

“Could you share what kind of data you’d have available?”

“Well, we have a lot of data. What kind of data do you want and how are you going to use it?”

“Well, we need to see the data first before we know what we can do with it.”

“Well, we won’t know what’s going to be relevant unless you tell us what data you need.”

Ad infinitum, ad nauseam. 

As communication professionals, the onus is on us to put an end this conversational stand-off. Keep in mind is that while the data gatekeepers are usually specialists in data analysis, they may not necessarily know what goes into creating a story with data. As such, it should always be the communication professional’s responsibility to first outline what they are trying to achieve.

This should be done by providing a detailed overview of what the brand is trying to communicate, while giving them enough flexibility to propose what kind of data would best fit the narrative. 

For example, if a food-delivery company wanted to craft a story on how their service is helpful to F&B vendors, then a communication professional would need to construct a brief for the data specialists. That brief would include details on the general overview of the story, the kind of information would be of interest to both media professionals and F&B vendors, and other factors which would provide a well-rounded perspective. 

Value, Variety and Viability

But what actually makes a good data-driven story? First and foremost, it’s the value the data brings to the target audience. For marketing collaterals that cater to a specific demographic, this is relatively straight-forward – but content that doubles as a media pitch needs to be relevant to the target publications, too. 

It sounds like common sense, but it’s very easy to get stuck using data that is entirely self-serving or doesn’t provide any valuable insights. For example, there was a report which found that “companies that performed better in marketing metrics were more successful”. That’s akin to saying that athletes who run faster win more medals. Duh. Make sure your insights are impactful enough to provide new information and potentially affect business decisions. 

Returning to our example of a food-delivery company, instead of talking about average delivery times, why not talk about peak ordering times, trending cuisines, or other consumer behaviours? These are data points vendors could potentially use to tweak their operations, and that the media could also find interesting. 

Next up is the variety of data available. While it’s good to lead with a strong statistic (for example: over 40% of all office workers in the CBD area use food delivery for lunch), a good data-driven story goes beyond this. One way to map this out is to first start with the key statistic and expand the width and depth of the data. In the food example, depth could refer to data about popular types of cuisine, and the reasons for their popularity (price, convenience, availability) – or it could mean examining the same statistic, but from a different point of view (the percentage of people ordering food in the heartlands during dinner time). 

Lastly – and arguably most importantly – is the viability of the data. This is a little tricky as different industries and publications have different interpretations about what is considered “viable” data, but as a general rule of thumb, the larger the data sample, the better. It’s also important to note that if you start to carve out demographic insights, you don’t end up with a respondent pool that is too small. 

Collaborate and Pivot with your Data Gatekeepers

Once a solid brief has been put together, it’s time to start working with your data specialists. With a more definitive end-goal in mind, these professionals are in a better position to provide advice about the type of data which works best for the story – which is where communication professionals need to be flexible enough to pivot their perspective if needed. Another common stumbling block at this stage is working with data that goes against the chosen narrative. 

In our food delivery example, the data may show that overall deliveries are on the decline – but all is not lost, The communications and data teams need to investigate a little deeper to see if there’s an angle which aligns with the narrative of the overall story, while still providing the value to the target consumer. Perhaps the drop in deliveries could be attributed to the fact that people are looking for healthier options, or they prefer to order and collect their food.

The piece could then lead with a controversial statistic, before bringing the story back to align with the narrative. But of course, it should be noted that sometimes data can only be stretched so much, and if the picture the data paints is overwhelmingly negative, then perhaps silence is the wiser choice. 

There are of course many other factors that come into play and every data-driven story would have a different process, but by starting off with a clear objective, while balancing flexibility to shift the story where the data leads, communicators can land data-driven stories that are relevant and impactful.

Need help dealing with data specialists for a story where data is the hero? We can help: [email protected]

How B2B brands can make tech narratives sexy

We hate to break it to you, but not all technology gets consumers equally excited. 

Think of the immediate onslaught of news articles and social media posts that accompany the announcement of a new Apple product. Now, contrast that with the response to the latest innovation announced by an integrated business-to-business (B2B) software solution people use every day. You see what we mean? 

Customers might not know it just yet, but they do come in contact with the products of B2B business more often than they think – ever used Ninja Van’s automated chatbot? That software is provided by Zendesk, a customer service software company.  Relatability is exactly what it takes for people to start caring about what tech brands, especially B2B ones, have to say.

But why should consumer perception matter to your B2B tech businesses?

Much like how B2B brands turn to their customers for validation,  consumer tech companies also look to customers – the end-users of B2B brand products – for theirs. By playing a significant role in shaping the way people (positively) perceive your customers, you boost the credibility of your own brand. 

If you ever find yourself trying hard to connect with an audience who has no idea 5G is upon us (let alone 6G), here’s how you can talk about technology without sounding like you’re quoting The Matrix.


To the average person, the tech industry seems to be full of long-winded acronyms, nonsense words, and seemingly meaningless catchphrases (“SEO optimisation,” anyone?). Though it can be hard to resist using techspeak in promotional material, that won’t impress your audience – instead, it could just confuse them, or worse, drive them away. 

For instance, a company may install a complicated new software which improves employee efficiency and productivity. However, if the audience is unable to understand what exactly the software does for them, and are not educated on how to go about using it, they’ll probably stick to doing things the way that works best, even if it is comparatively slow or clunky. Similarly, B2B software companies dealing with complicated products should drop the technicalities and instead articulate the value they bring to their customers. 


If you have data, insights, or even simply announcements that impact the local and regional tech or businesses community, you should work to create interesting story angles centred around your and your customers’ data. 

If data is not readily available, though, commissioned reports produced by third-party research agencies can also help you deep-dive into industry trends to produce an opinion piece that also showcases your brand’s technical product capabilities in a non-promotional light.

What’s more,  your data or opinion pieces can be distilled into more digestible satellite content – short-form pieces like social posts and blog posts – that can grab readers’ attention and then funnel those who want to know more towards your website, which can in turn help boost both awareness and generate leads.


Software companies who also act as vendors for their consumer tech clients can sometimes blur the lines between genuine thought-leadership and an opportunistic, promotional plug – especially when pitching to the media. For instance, if you’re a cloud service provider, it would be natural for you to speak with the media about how “organisations need to be cloud-ready” before 5G networks arrive.

But instead of telling others how something should be done, why not show them? The success stories of your customers make for great case studies, which prove the success of your products and services when applied in the real world. 

But here’s the catch: when sharing case studies with trade publications or other news outlets, B2B brands must understand and be comfortable sharing the spotlight with other parties – otherwise the neutrality of the story might be undermined. 


‘Reactive pitching’ – often called ‘newsjacking’ – is the art (if you will) of getting your organisation’s key messages into media coverage by riding on the back of breaking news. To leverage reactive pitching effectively, you should think about the type of data or thought-leadership your company spokesperson can bring to the table in the event of major tech-related news – brainstorming possibilities and having a ready-to-go bank of ideas is definitely not a bad idea. 

As a B2B brand, you likely work with partners that provide service to consumer tech companies. Work with them to tap into their available data in order to create compelling news hooks for journalists – especially those in the tech and business world. By inserting yourself into the conversation subtly and tastefully, you’ll be the expert on the situation and topic at hand. 

These tactics are for tech companies, as newsworthy corporate announcements may not always be available, and even when they are, they might be too technical for audiences of mainstream or business titles. By creating user-friendly content and positioning your business leaders as industry experts, you’ll be able to more easily get the word out about your company.

Are you a B2B tech company in need of figuring out how to tell people what you do? We can help uncomplicate things. Drop us a line at [email protected].

More than words – why PR should embrace data

The world of PR is more than words. As data is becoming increasingly democratised, ‘big data’ buzzwords are flooding into every industry – including PR. While the days of merely managing relationships and clippings are over, data is a highly crucial factor for successful campaigns today. PR professionals are experts in creating original media angles and pitching stories. But data can help to refine and sharpen these angles even further.

Many tech companies find it difficult to justify or see the immediate value of hiring PR. However, the business insights of companies can be the missing piece that helps to showcase thought leadership, gives a new market perspective and makes stories more interesting to the media and their readers.

PR is not product release

Product news releases are a big part of the PR world, but editorial teams have taken a strict stance on not publishing anything too closely-related to product releases. In today’s world, readers are far more discerning about advertising and sponsored content, therefore it’s crucial for media outlets to be objective. This makes it even harder for smaller companies to be heard at all. So, why would companies still hire PR professionals to create and distribute product releases?

A mere product release no longer has much impact in today’s busy media world. Data doesn’t just indicate a number of PR hits – it can actually proof points. Putting things into perspective, data can offer context and new PR angles. Using simple metrics, companies can share their real success stories. No matter if it’s the launch of a new product or industry trends – all of it can easily be quantified with ROI and other gathered data.

Turning data into insights

Collecting data before the conception of the PR campaign can offer key insights, shining a new light on the company’s product release. The successful communication of new products needs not only the accurate description of its benefits but demands a wider business context and key insights from the market. For example, a company offering ICT solutions won’t receive much media coverage with a mere product release. However, paired with a survey insight, such as ‘95% of APAC CIOs are actively seeking help with the digital transformation of their companies’, a product release can become major industry news.

Here are 4 tips to incorporate data into your PR strategy:
  1. Analyse product and market
  2. Interpret data with focus on product-market fit
  3. Align product communication with key market or business insight
  4. Design PR campaign around insights and product

Once you have collated your data from your research, it needs to be interpreted. An analysis is essential in this situation. PR professionals need to be able to slice, dice, and analyse data that drives new insights and interests journalists, whilst ensuring the company is represented in the best possible way.

Need some help to strengthen your PR messages with insightful data? Drop us a message to [email protected]