How to frame and communicate data to make an impact
Many famous historical figures were not recognized for their ground-breaking contributions until after their deaths. Nickolaus Copernicus, and later, Galileo Galilei, said the planets revolve around the sun and not the earth – a heretical statement at the time. Gregor Mendel discovered genetic inheritance in the mid-1880s but not until the 20th Century did it gain acceptance. Alfred Wegener discovered the jet stream and continental drift in the 1930s, but these concepts weren’t accepted until the early 1950s after he died.
We can claim that these scientists’ contributions weren’t recognized until much later because they were simply ahead of their times – and those times were undeniably different than today. Still, if their facts and figures were presented in a way that resonated with the right influencers of the time, the course of history might have changed.
Translating data into meaningful insights
These examples carry over to us as business people today. All too often we forget that what our audiences care about are the results and impact of our data. Facts and figures are only a starting point – and support – to telling our story. It makes one wonder how often great new product and service concepts don’t realize their potential because communicating details of the data underlying those concepts takes precedence over properly framing and delivering the benefits.
The School of Data, a joint initiative led by the Open Knowledge Foundation and Peer 2 Peer University to help people utilize the potential of data to assist them in their work, published an article “Tell me a story: Working out what’s interesting in your data.” It poses the following questions: “Why would someone be interested in your story?” “Who is the someone?” and “How does that someone connect or interact with your data?” Acknowledging that “making the data relevant and close to issues that people care about is one of the hardest things to get right,” the article offers inspirational advice to get us thinking.
If you have valuable, newsworthy data – perhaps the results of a study you conducted that impact your industry, or breakthrough technology that drives a new product – take the steps to ensure you leverage it for all its worth.
Five ways to communicate data to the right people and get them to care
After you’ve boiled down the essence of your data into benefits that are relevant to your most potential audience, here are a few steps you can take to translate abstract concepts into information people will read and care about:
- Make your data newsworthy. Summarize your main points in a way that calls attention to the value of your data – but stay clear of a salesy or marketing approach. Also, don’t overwhelm people with too much information.
- Visualize your data with the right type of charts or graphs. It begins with understanding exactly what you’re trying to communicate and to whom so you can clearly – and easily – show comparisons and relationships that are important to people. An infographic is a great way to get across complex concepts in an engaging way.
- Use the right communication vehicles. Consider creating your own targeted list of influential people in your industry and distributing a news release to this email list through a wire service such as Marketwired. You can create a web page with more supportive information and link to it from your release. In addition, post your content on social sharing sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn to broaden your exposure.
- Take advantage of social sharing links. Include social sharing links in all your digital communications, including your news release and emails, which helps spread your message to a broader number of people and encourages engagement.
- Assess and leverage results. Who read and shared your story? You can find this out through news release performance reports. Marketwired generates in-depth analytics after news release distribution that show who broadcast your key information, as well as the most shared and repeated messages. Armed with this insight, you can work on building relationships with the influencers who can amplify your message even farther.
Don’t let your valuable data get buried by focusing on facts rather than benefits. Frame it properly and ensure it reaches the people who will benefit the most from it. With the right approach, your data – if properly communicated – can contribute to increased business and brand growth.