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Marketing and PR experts must not rely on data alone for top results

Following a successful night on the red carpet for Smoking Gun— we picked up two golds at the PRMoment Awards— we thought it fitting to share some sage wisdom only true PR experts know.

Well, OK, we’ll come clean. Our victories this week are only part of the catalyst for this post. The other inspiration comes from Charlotte Rogers’ excellent report for Marketing Week on the data-obsessed world contemporary PR experts and marketers now live in.

“Hang on,” we hear you cry. And rightly so.

Here on Bridge Street we have long advocated a data-heavy, fully-accountable approach to public relations, digital marketing and various other comms disciplines. But that shouldn’t negate instinct and raw talent.

“When you train marketers to only market by testing, unfortunately… …you will never do brave and creative things.”

So said Cheryl Calverley. CMO of Eve, when addressing Marketing Week Live last Wednesday. It’s a view that, according to the aforementioned article, was backed up by a number of other pros.

“Data is fantastic and you have to understand it, learn it and love it, but not at the expense of being able to empathise with your customers and tell a good story,” Gav Thompson, of Boden, apparently piped up.

We happily have to (completely) agree.

It has never been more important to understand the numbers. We’ve explained the impact this can have on safeguarding vital marketing and PR budgets (delivering proof to the finance team will always help convince them to invest). Not to mention how much it can help in terms of gaining a good insight into employee engagement.

Nevertheless, when it comes to conceiving stand-out campaigns, to focus entirely on ideas that have been proven to work is completely missing the point of having PR experts and marketing masterminds on your brand’s side.

Free to fly without clipped wings

By nature, PR and marketing— and almost every other form of comms— are reliant on creative thinking. Creative thinking cannot function if it is forced into a tightly-packed box, walls made of concrete certainties.

In contrast, an educated guess or well-judged gamble makes the most of that creativity, without being a wild stab in the dark or dull cookie-cutter effort.

Both of which could easily see you wasting money.

Yesterday we blogged on how Iceland has excelled at reaching the conscious consumer. A key leg-up coming from an advertisement that was banned, which those responsible more than likely knew would be banned.

Last week, our homage to World Book Day and the best literary PR stunts showed lasting impressions are often made when people do something daring. The list even included a ban created by the author himself, with many of the other examples 50/50 when it comes to whether they would have been signed-off or not. They were, and history tells us how successful the results were.

Just look at publishing

If we take a quick look at our brothers and sisters on the other side of the media, the point is almost even clearer. The more data advertisers have about sales journeys and conversions from the commercial space they buy from publications, the more pressure those publications have come under and, in some cases, the less creative and adventurous they have become as a result.

Playing it safe means— for a while at least— keeping the numbers up. But it scarcely ever means impressive growth.

To summarise, then, we’re not saying ignore the facts, stats and figures— far from it. But what we advocate is using those to judge success, rather than completely dictate what is and isn’t possible.


Why not test what we can do with a combination of deft data use and cutting-edge creativity?

Give us a call.


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