Strategic communications professionals who profess to blindly follow data might as well be blind.
Data is important – no question. As communicators, data informs and enlightens what we do. Our clients demand it and their bosses require it.
But data is really just that – data. Absent content and experience, it may or may not add value to the business objective you’re trying to achieve.
As a follow to my most recent post (“The key to using data … you”), I really enjoyed Adam Kleinberg’s editorial in the recent Advertising Age (February 26, 2013) titled, “Data-Driven Creative Equals Mediocre Creative.”
Well-written and fun, he makes some strong and valid (mostly) claims.
Basically, he sees a big difference between data and insight. He’s a creative. I’m a PR guy. I see a big difference between data and knowledge. Yeh, I know … tomato or tomatoe.
Anyway, he’s right-on when he writes, “And insight is vital. Sometimes data provides insight. Sometimes it provides confusion … Insight is just as likely to come from the gut … than it is [to come from] some data analyst poring over reams of spreadsheets.”
He’s a bit strong on marketers and their quest for data to drive marketing decision-making. But, there is some truth to what he writes.
He said data didn’t tell anyone to hire Betty White to pitch Snickers in a Super Bowl ad (2010). I say that data never enabled Oreo’s to post their “You can dunk in the dark” Super Bowl slam dunk (2013) when the lights went out.
In these cases, I think good data – and maybe even big data – more than likely enabled smart and creative people to truly understand their brand promises and their customer base and, for them, “wrote-down” the inherent risk of associating with Betty White or winging-it for Oreo.
No matter how big “big data” gets, winning through communications needs us – smart people – with our experiences, instincts, knowledge and wisdom.
At Vehr Communications, we want as much data as we can ever get our hands on when working to help a client achieve a business objective; it informs how we think. We, along with our clients, ultimately decide what to do.
We like to be informed and enlightened by data, not blinded by it.