“Data is the new oil”, they say except it is still in its crude form and needs refinement in order to be judiciously utilised. In the world of public relations and communications, it is fast becoming the new way of providing clarity to complement storytelling.


This is what Iretomiwa Akintunde-Johnson, Lead PR & Communications Adviser at ID Africa – a pan-African communications advisory – addressed in ‘Data Literacy in PR Report’ published by the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) which is the world’s largest professional PR association, representing more than 35,000 PR professionals in 82 countries worldwide.


There is an increasing shift in the demand for visualisation and data. While most public relations and communications practitioners are well-versed in story-telling, the demand for data as another form of communication means they need to up their game to attain global standards.

She wrote: “The challenge for practitioners is that although they may be skilled in written or verbal storytelling, they aren’t naturally good at storytelling with data. No one teaches us how to tell stories with numbers. There is no shortage of tools or data that are supposed to help. But these alone are not enough.”


Akintunde-Johnson said data story-telling is increasingly being demanded to provide insight on campaigns and business strategies. She leads a team of super advisers at ID Africa, the Pan-African executory firm of BHM, the continent’s leading public relations and reputation management consultancy, where data and insights into Africa has become one of its driving forces and a tool for providing world-class advisories.


Also in the report, Stephen Waddington, Chair, PRCA Innovation Forum and Managing Partner, Wadds Inc noted that as a result of digital transformation, media and organisations have created a huge volume of data which has improved audience engagement.


The report is a series of essays from 11 leading practitioners around the world and it aims to elevate understanding of best practices in the use of data in public relations. 


The essays explore how data informs strategy, decision-making, creativity, execution, and measurement while also explaining how insights can be developed from data and used as a foundation for content and storytelling.