I think I initially chose advertising as a major because of the lack of math classes. My only math requirements were a statistics class and a college algebra class. I rarely had to worry about Excel spreadsheets or make sense of large sets of numbers. In my naive college mind, I felt like I could make it on creative thinking and good presentation skills alone.
Man, was I wrong.
My last two years at a PR firm like DeMoss have sharpened my writing skills. Whether it's a long report, a thought leadership white paper (one coming soon) or a proposal for new business, I've written more long form content in the last two years than I ever have. At the same time, I've also had to do considerably more math.
We were fortunate at Engauge to have a full-blown analytics team. People whose full-time job was to make sense of large amounts of data and work with us to translate that story in a client report. At a smaller shop like DeMoss, we don't have a large group dedicated to measurement, so measuring digital campaigns usually falls on my list of responsibilities.
Every day I'm in Excel doing something. I may be exporting Facebook insights to measure the effectiveness of a client's content strategy. I could be in Twitter using data to justify why a client should/should not have a specific username in use. I could even be in Brandwatch, listening to content trends online and quantifying conversations to help craft client brand messages.
For a long time, public relations was a soft science. Now it's a real science where nearly everything can be measured. It's never been a better time to be able to justify the results of your work using hard data. There's also never been more opportunities for work accountability with the improvements made in data collection and measuring online activity.
In times when I've had to debate whether a strategy or tactic was the right one, I've found that math is the strongest trump card. It's hard to argue opinions when faced with tangible results.
The PR professional that survives in the future will be the one that's not afraid to get in the weeds and crunch numbers. They will find what's measurable...and maybe even allow math to prove their own opinions wrong in the process.
What about you? Have you seen your time crunching numbers increase over the last few years?
Did you get into the business of words to avoid the business of numbers?