Public Relations and Big Data

This week, I finally officially declared that I will have public relations as my area of concentration as I pursue my master’s of science in communication from the S.I. Newhouse School of Communication at Syracuse University.

Of course, as I’m taking the non-specialized courses, I see that a lot of people in the world seem to paint PR specialists as the bad guys. I can see why, in some cases, that can be true, but I see it as a chance to fine tune the skills that can help me get the word out about the things I truly care about.

Using big data is a slippery slope for everyone, as it has its good and bad points – the same way PR specialists seem to do.

In PR, it is all about crafting messaging to convince people to buy off on the idea, not the product, that you are selling. What better way to do that than to find out first what it is that people truly want.

Being able to leverage big data, PR specialists can give people what they want. On the negative side, that can mean convincing people of things, or making them believe that your idea can fulfill a need, and maybe it will, but numbers can be both true and manipulative.

As a PR specialist, I would use big data to find out who doesn’t have the information that I want to give them. Then, I can find out what it is they need. If my company or organization can provide them with something, I want to be able to do that. I think it can be very good for people.

Some PR firms might be willing to sell big data to other organizations, and I am firmly against that.

I think transparency is the most important factor in being the type of PR specialist I would want to be. Be up front about the fact that even when writing a journalistic story, you work for a company or organization. Be up front about what you would use data collection for.

If you can do that, I believe that you can use big data to help your company or organization meet its communication goals and still keep your integrity intact.

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