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Data-backed Storytelling: A New Chapter in Business Communications

Updated: Jan 31

The transformative power of data

You must have heard the phrase ‘data is the new oil’, but have you wondered why people say so? It is because oil superpowered activities and transformed the way people conduct business. This was in the industrial age. 

In today’s age of information, most of the world’s business decisions are based on insights derived from data. From marketing to healthcare and from farming to manufacturing, the increasing application and effect of data is shaping the modern economy, which can be seen through the rise of disciplines like data science, data engineering, and data analytics. Even the latest attention-grabbing innovation, generative AI, is a product of data. Today, it is data which is transforming the way we live, interact, and conduct business.


So, what is data and why is it important?

Simply put, data is information on a particular topic in the form of facts and/or numbers. Census of a country is data; what you eat for breakfast throughout the week is data; the type of people who prefer Apple over Samsung is another set of data. Professionals value data because it eliminates uncertainty and gives a clear picture of a situation, enabling them to make decisions based on information rather than on assumption. This helps in increasing the probability of achieving your goals. Which is what most businesses and individuals want.

But data is boring

Data is like broccoli. It is important but not the most appealing food. Raw data usually appears as numbers, words, and special characters. And to be honest, it isn’t pretty. No one has ever said they enjoy reading raw data.

So, how do we extract the treasure hidden under the mountain of characters? Data professionals interpret and arrange this data so that a regular person can understand it. This is usually presented as graphs, charts, infographics, or as text. But cooking raw data into a consumable format is not enough to make people want to eat it. This is where you need to add some dressing to it.

This is where storytelling comes into play

Storytelling is the art of conveying information through a scenario. Creating and consuming stories comes naturally to humans, and we’ve been using this inclination to exchange information across individuals and cultures. People are constantly creating stories in the form of movies, songs, advertisements, novels, reels, and whatnot. Stories help people engage and connect with information in a personal way, thereby enhancing comprehension and retention.

In today’s age of short attention spans and content overload, you need powerful and well-thought words and visuals to craft a compelling story that serves multiple functions. This is where a professional writer, a visual storyteller, and a PR professional become your best friends. The first creates striking copy, the second builds captivating visuals, and the third publishes the content. 

A writer and a visualiser make sense, but why a PR professional, you wonder? The answer is in the name itself, Public Relations. If you are creating content to interact with the public, you need a person who is well-versed in facilitating and guiding that exchange. A PR professional looks after what kind of stories to tell, how to share them, and how the audience receives them. By managing this process, a PR person optimises the communication between your company and its audience. 

How are companies leveraging digital storytelling?

Data’s main role is to inform the decision-making process of an organisation. Along with this, companies use data to engage consumers by creating fact-based stories and scenarios. 

For example, In 2017, Spotify combined the data collected on what songs, playlists, and artists its 30 million users listened to and classified it as per location and demographics. After doing so, they revealed that Penn State in the US has the highest percentage of ‘party-songs’ playlist. They also created articles like ‘How students listen to music in 2017’, ‘How professionals listen to music 2018’, etc. This way, they create short stories around their users. 

Another example is of a US-based real estate company called Zillow. They used their collected data to engage various sections of their audience by creating stories like ‘10 best cities for Trick or Treating’, where they reveal safe and thriving neighbourhoods to raise kids in, and ‘Best home-locations for millennials’, where they share localities that appeal to a particular type of people.   

Many more businesses strategically employ data to create fact-based content to interact with the audience. The content is usually a mix of intrigue, amusement, and information. As a result, consumers who engage with this content get a sense of the deep insights you have about the topic and see you as a genuine leader in your field.

How can you boost your story-telling journey?

  • In the above mentioned pieces created by Spotify and Zillow, the focus was to tell the story of a music lover, of a parent with kids, of a millennial looking to build a life; so the first tip is to create content that revolves around your audience. Let the story be about a version of them. 

  • Second tip would be to play with data. The more you play with it, the more you discover new ways of creating content from it.

  • The third thing to do would be to invest in a small team of writers and visualisers who can ideate and create compelling content, complete with attractiveness and substance.

  • Fourth would be to research and keep an eye on the conversations, events, and happenings in the market. This knowledge will help you to create relevant and useful content.

  • Fifth tip would be to simply hire an agency who will take care of your PR plus content needs.

These guidelines can help you craft authentic stories which resonate with your audience.

The point is that Data-backed storytelling is an essential part of your business communication. It is a tried and tested way to engage your audience with valuable insights, build a reputation, and eventually convert it into revenue.

On a side note do you know what SPRD stands for? Stories, PR, and Digital. That’s who we are and what we do. Stories are a central part of our work, and our work is turning another chapter in our story. We are pleased to share that we’re celebrating 5 years of spreading the good word for our clients, and we look forward to more such glorious years!


Psst! This blog was made with 💕 and created after some thought by a real person.


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