How to Visualise Data for a Successful Digital PR Campaign
There are many ingredients to creating a successful digital PR campaign that brings in those high quality links our clients are aiming for. From research and ideation to defining the brand connection and getting the green light to bring it to life, it’s no easy process - and that’s before you’ve even thought about launching the campaign to the press.
One of the most important areas to spend time on when creating a campaign is defining how you are going to show your data in a way that grabs your audience’s attention immediately. With seemingly endless data available, combined with an even longer list of ways to visualise it, what are some tips to manage this and create a campaign that your user can not only understand, but enjoy too?
So what is data visualisation?
Data visualisation is the display of data results in a way that is both pleasing to the eye, easy to digest by the reader and informative. If not done well, the narrative of the data can be lost and the campaign could potentially fail.
Once you have a campaign idea for your client - whether they are big or small - you need to think about how you are going to display the campaign.
Asking yourself these three questions will really help you work out your idea and how it's going to look to your audience:
- Is it data-heavy?
- Are there lots of different metrics to this campaign?
- What is the main narrative of this data and story?
Once you’ve figured out exactly what you are showing you’ll have the main crux of your digital PR campaign and will know what sort of data visualisations it lends itself to.
There are a bunch of different data visualisation styles to then choose from. For example a simple infographic, which typically sits on a site, and sometimes has a GIF element involved. Or a bubble comparison chart, bubble cluster, scatterplot, bar chart and of course the pie chart. All of these different visualisations lend themselves better to certain types of data sets more than others.
Don’t forget that there is no right or wrong way to display data (Knaflic, Storytelling with Data, 2015, p.69). Every campaign is different so you need to make sure that what you want to display is clearly articulated.
How to interpret and visualise data without losing your head
If you’re presenting big data results - for example government data or a huge pool of survey results - you need to balance between form and function when it comes to visualising the outcome.
“The plainest graph could be too boring to catch any notice or it could make a powerful point; the most stunning visualisation could utterly fail at conveying the right message or it could speak volumes. The data and the visuals need to work together, and there’s an art to combining great analysis with great storytelling”
So, be sure to analyse your data properly and really weigh up the best way to display the results.
Tableau says there’s a bunch of visualisation methods for presenting data in effective and interesting ways: charts, tables, graphs, maps, infographics and dashboards just being the tip of the iceberg. There are more specific ways to visualise data though, such as area charts, bubble clouds, Gantt charts, heat maps - the list goes on.
If you have lots of different metrics to your data, an index is one of the best ways to display the results - just because it allows the user to digest them in a segmented and straightforward way. Also, if there are lots of different angles to the data, indexes help the user understand each angle more easily.
Content doesn’t always need to be big, shiny and interactive
Some data may not require in-depth data visualisation, and a static infographic may do the job and get your story across.
For example, this graphic that we created for our client RS Components simply shows the growth of certain sectors in the UK over a 40 year span, and has no need for interactivity or impressive charts - therefore the user is able to digest the simple stats quite easily. Design elements such as having the overall percentage change in simple bold text on the right-hand side is important though - making it as prominent as possible gives it the oomph we’re after.
If the data had been displayed differently, for example, as a chart, or even bubble chart, the narrative of the story may have been missed and the user would have lost interest. Therefore, it’s really important to select the best visualisation format for your data results in order to impress the audience (in our case, journalists), which then leads to coverage and hopefully links.
A little extra help
If you’re still struggling to work out how to visualise data, be sure to ask yourself these questions:
- What do I need my audience to know?
- What is the right graph for my situation?
Knaflic believes that the best and easiest way for your audience to read the results is always the best answer, but if you’re still struggling, take a look at Information is Beautiful for some more inspiration.