As we dive into the new year, our commitment to optimising client services led us to analyse all the latest trends and reports in the PR industry. A standout theme emerged — data; its acquisition and application are paramount for effective communication in 2024.

Data-driven storytelling involves constructing a compelling narrative based on intricate data and analytics, enabling effective communication and influence over a specific audience. Surprisingly, Prowly’s PR Trends and Predictions for 2024 Report revealed that only 13.6% of industry professionals plan to allocate their PR budget to market research in the coming year, ranking third behind Nurturing Strategic Partnerships (37%) and Investing in AI-powered Tools (18.7%).

Despite these findings, the benefits of data-driven storytelling in the PR industry are immense. Here are three compelling reasons why a more significant budget allocation for market research and relevant data is essential to compile data-driven insights.

1. Eliciting Emotions through Numbers

Data-driven storytelling provides the initial advantage of evoking emotions grounded in facts. German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche asserted that there are no facts, only interpretations. Incorporating data helps craft messages that can sway perceptions in favour of or against your narrative. A prime example is Discovery’s Centenary campaign, highlighting not only the number of centenarian Discovery Medical Scheme members but also delving into their stories. This approach used data to illustrate the growing number of centenarian members and explained how Discovery facilitated their journey through financial planning.

Another [potentially unpopular] reference point is Eskom and its daily load-shedding schedule which is a major driver of the news flow in South Africa at the moment. While it is likely that organisations are less affected by daily schedules due to sustainable energy alternatives to counter the load-shedding, it does highlight how invested stakeholders become in the hard numbers. 

2. Building Credibility through Insightful Reports

Organisations are increasingly producing industry-related reports to establish themselves as market leaders. These reports, reliant on data beyond desktop research, demand significant time and resources for compilation. When executed effectively, the data in these reports becomes benchmark sources relied upon by industry peers in their decision-making processes. Identifying your strengths and developing a report around that niche can be a powerful strategy to establish credibility in 2024.

There are a couple of benefits for organisations who are investing in these properties. 

The first is that they allow you to plan your editorial calendar in advance to align with the data releases. This allows you to be proactive in your media placements rather than reactive and engage journalists and other stakeholders early on.  

The second benefit is that the data gathering process allows you to get closer to your stakeholders which allows you to align your business development goals with tangible data. 

The third consideration is that the presentation or release of your data allows you to get closer to stakeholders and clients – allowing you to better measure your PR activities.  

3. Communicating Beyond Words: The Visual Impact

Which of the below statements will carry more weight? 

  • “Tourism in Cape Town is looking up” 
  • “Western Cape has record-breaking tourism season with more than 400 000 visitors” 

The second statement invariably carries more weight as you have a reference data point that you can hang your hat on. 

More and more, we are seeing organisations moving away from generic statements and pushing for specific statements and numbers to enhance their story-telling and position themselves as thought leaders in their respective industries. 


4. . Communicating Beyond Words: The Visual Impact

Data-driven storytelling compels PR professionals to move beyond words by exploring data and expressing it visually. Infographics and visual representations provide readers with necessary information at a glance. Developing these visuals relies on accurate data mining, followed by an ideation and design process to ensure the message is conveyed effectively.

Consider the below extract from the Famous Brands Integrated annual report which showcases the reach across the continent. It immediately draws your attention and tells a powerful story of a great South African brand. 

famous brands integrated annual report

Developing authentic stories that grant your organisation a credible stance in the market is a priority for your business, we firmly believe that data-driven storytelling will be a key element in successful PR strategies in 2024. The value of gathering and expressing data in impactful ways justifies a more substantial budget allocation.

If your organisation aspires to be a market leader this year, incorporating data-driven storytelling into your PR strategy will amplify its impact. To learn more about integrating data-driven storytelling into your organisation’s communication strategy and attracting more clients, feel free to get in touch with us.