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4 Smart Ways Big Data Can Use PR During COVID-19

By Sophie Foggin 4 May, 2020

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As the novel coronavirus pandemic has made its way across the world, the last few months have not been easy for some big data companies. 

At the moment, the big data industry is suffering a declining public opinion fueled by overriding concerns over infringements on citizens’ privacy. Although governments and institutions believe big data has a pivotal role in tracking the spread of COVID-19, many public influencers have raised concerns over the use of this information post-pandemic. 

Human Rights Watch even syndicated a warning about how a lack of protection on data tapping could undermine the COVID-19 response, comparing the situation to how big data was used in the response to the 2014 Ebola outbreak. 

However, in the short term, there is evidence to show how big data can be useful in the early stages of the global pandemic. Take, for instance, South Korea. Being so close to the epicenter of the pandemic, the country’s response needed to be immediate and effective in order to prevent it from spending several months in lock down. 

And so, South Korea used big data to monitor social distancing, trace contact and to frame its approach to patient testing. It proved to be instrumental in South Korea’s ability to flatten the curve of new coronavirus cases so quickly. 

Restoring public confidence in big data, therefore, requires some effective use of big data PR. Just as experts believe that the virus could be a call to action to demonstrate big data best practices, their customers must believe it, too. Here’s how big data companies can use digital PR to ensure they do so.

Traditional press releases

When it comes to communicating announcements, new products or services, or even changes within your organization, sending out a press release is a foolproof way to generate traction. 

However, although big data customers need to keep up-to-date on the latest developments, not all of them have the money to invest in purchases at the moment, given the pending economic recession.

For this reason, big data companies should pay particular attention to the way they word any call to action or sales-orientated press releases. Perhaps, they could think about changing their tone of voice to one that reflects the fact that they are on-hand to help, as opposed to directly selling.

A quick brainstorm on how best to communicate product developments with their customers could be structured around asking whether the current pandemic has affected them. If so, how? 

With this in mind, big data companies can then start to think about how best to use press releases to communicate their news. 

Connecting with journalists 

The importance of establishing a good relationship with journalists who cover a technology-focused beat is often underestimated. 

Journalists are always looking for story ideas to pitch to their editors, and if your company’s product or service could make for an interesting story, they will likely be interested in covering it, provided it’s part of a bigger story and not purely promotional.

But don’t wait for them to come to you.

Reaching out to journalists on a regular basis – both via phone and email – can help to only establish a relationship of trust and confidence. This relationship is often lacking and even more important during the current pandemic. 

From a big data company’s perspective, however, the important thing to remember is to put yourself in the journalist’s shoes. Any company-focused material will immediately put a journalist off. Try and approach the way you talk about your service around angles that will make for an original story, not one that will just add to the noise. 

Monitoring the media

Tech journalists looking to cover the big data beat can be known to utilize individual companies’ resources when looking for article inspiration or sources. For this reason, it’s important that big data companies stay up-to-date with industry trends and developments, especially considering how fast they can change. 

By monitoring media coverage not just from journalists, but also staying updated with commentary from prominent data analysts and scientists, big data companies stay in the loop.  Combined with their own team’s expertise, these big data companies place themselves as industry thought leaders. 

Given the current overload of information, though, big data companies must be careful about the sources they are obtaining their information from. The sheer mass of online content output has risen parallel to the number of false narratives and information perpetuated by discreditable sources. Take, for example, the 5G coronavirus conspiracy

In addition to triple-checking the domain authority of all sources, companies should then make sure that the content they are producing is offering a unique angle or new piece of information, as opposed to just adding more content to the global conversation. 

Think about what information customers need at the moment. What is their current priority, and how might this have changed since the start of the current pandemic? And how can you make their lives easier by saving them time and monitoring media coverage for them, by packaging it in a coherent, accessible format?

Content marketing

Re-thinking your content marketing strategy could also be a good way for companies to continue leveraging big data PR to reach new audiences in the current climate. 

At this point, it’s more important than ever for big data companies to filter through their customer databases and micro-target niche demographics with accurate information that applies exclusively to them.

While content production is at an all-time high, the last thing customers need is to be receiving information that is irrelevant to them. 

Another content marketing strategy to apply during the current pandemic could also be to offer content through big data companies’ owned media that will entice potential customers to invest when they eventually have the resources to be able to do so. 

An example of this, as suggested by marketing segmentation startup DESelect CEO in a recent interview with Publicize, could be training-orientated content.

Final thoughts

When it comes to big data PR in times of crisis, it’s simply a matter of tweaking standard PR practices to make sure they are as efficient as possible. 

If big data companies make these changes, they can continue to ensure their industry receives as much positive PR attention as possible, at a time when they need it the most.

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