How the best creative ideas are often the most effective

Although crazy, off-the-wall ideas might get initial pick up, with a temporary splash of coverage that gives a brand an ego boost and creates a round of celebratory high-fives in the office – it’s not going to be long before the question is raised – so what did that campaign actually do for my business? Where’s the ROI?

If your creative idea has no data to back it up, then you run the risk of a campaign being completely irrelevant and making very little impact in the long run.

The value of PR is often questioned, (and sometimes rightly so!) which is why it is important to take a performance-driven approach when it comes to setting your strategy and coming up with ideas. Using valuable data sources not only helps with identifying the publications you should be targeting, but also content topics too. It can also inform the strategy and tactics which will make the biggest impact and ROI, therefore providing justification for all your hard work.

My top data sources are as follows:

  1. Programmatic (display impressions) data. This not only helps you identify the publications your in-market audience is engaging with, but will also help identify the topics and content they like to read, which is vital for any brainstorm brief. If you are working with a programmatic agency, all you need to do is ask for a copy of your placement report to share with your PR team.
  2. Natural language understanding. You can use Google’s own algorithm, but we’ve developed an in-house tool that uses the IBM Watson API. This tool ingests our client’s entire backlink profile and allows us to see which keywords it appears most relevant for in Google’s eyes. If there are large content gaps, this helps to inform what our creative content needs to cover, in order to improve rankings. In addition, this also helps us stay relevant, and on-brand, something that many digital PR campaigns can lack. What’s the point in getting a load of coverage on a random website with a piece of content that has nothing to do with your brand? – your target audience won’t be reading it, and Google’s smarter now to recognise this doesn’t deserve any positive recognition!
  3. Existing tools, such as Ahrefs. This is a great tool that allows you to see where your competitors’ campaigns are getting coverage and links. This provides valuable insight so you can understand what’s going to drive the most success when it comes to placements.
  4. Audience data and insight. Google Analytics, Hitwise, demographic data (Acorn for example) and other brand insight can help PROs understand what content is going to encourage the most engagement with the end user, which hopefully ends in sales.

Having said all of that however it’s really, really important that you don’t become too focused on the numbers, as this is a sure-fire way to completely stifle creativity and you run the risk of your ideas becoming too safe and boring. Yes – data is one useful tool which can help you to drive cut through and results, but never underestimate the power of your gut instinct when it comes to creative thinking.

Written by Beth Nunnington, PR director at digital agency Journey Further, @BethNunnington on Twitter