Any PR professional will tell you. Funding news is aces. Thought leadership is essential. But nothing succeeds like data. Well-planned data campaigns pay dividends in the short and long term.
We knew it from experience, but we didn’t have hard numbers to prove it. Just how quickly did coverage arrive, and how long did it keep up? To find out, we reviewed the reports our clients had developed over the past two years.
The top-line findings were clear: coverage showed up fast and kept coming for weeks — even months. And the research turned up a lot more than that.
Before diving into the details, it’s worth noting that the reports we analyzed came from B2B tech startups. Trade publications in other sectors might publish on different schedules, or take a different level of interest in vendor-produced data. Mainstream outlets might find other industries more or less appealing. But caveats aside, the findings felt right, and we’d wager they’re applicable to most startups, regardless of vertical.
Finding #1: Data reports generate coverage over time
This was the key finding. More than 63% of studies received at least one piece of coverage after seven days, and 37% generated coverage more than a month after publication. Some reports were still generating coverage more than six months after publication.
Overall, 59% of total coverage appeared within a week of the announcement. By the two-week mark, 75% of total coverage had appeared; by one month, 82%.
That suggests two rules of thumb: First, you can expect most of your coverage to appear within the first month. Second, there’s often more coverage to be had after the one-month mark. A full 33% of announcements in our analysis saw coverage appear a month or more after publication.
That’s the great thing about data: it has such a long tail. In the short term, a data report can serve as a news item in itself. Over the longer run, it can feature as a supporting point in articles keyed off other data or other events in the news.
Distribution of Data Coverage Over Time
Finding #2: Data reports generate coverage fast
The vast majority of reports we studied — 94% — generated coverage within a week of publication. This includes instances where we offered the news to one outlet on an exclusive basis to ensure high-quality coverage the day the report was published.
Trades tended to publish first (74% of the time), though it was not unusual for top-tier reporters to steal a march on their colleagues at industry publications (see below). That was expected, since trades are on the hunt for news in their industry, and typically more open to data from vendors.
Finding #3: Top-tier coverage is sometimes fastest of all
While it’s true that good things come to those who wait, with data you don’t always have to. In the first-week news cycle, top-tier coverage (i.e. in a general-interest publication with a broad national audience) appeared earlier on average than coverage in the trades (an average of 2.0 days from the announcement for top-tier vs. 2.8 for trades).
This probably reflects the bias of national news outlets toward timeliness. Once the news is out, top-tier journalists have to report the news fast — if they’re going to report it at all. Most trade reporters aren’t under the same pressure to publish. They tend to operate at a slower pace, and will often publish news days or weeks after it comes out.
What is interesting is that this pattern reverses as we look farther out. The details are a bit complicated, but the main thing to know is that after the initial news cycle, top-tier coverage shows up, on average, later than trade coverage.
In other words, top-tier reporters are either going to rush out a story or take their time. After a week or so, top-tier inclusions will likely come from reporters folding data into a story about something else.
That’s why follow-up is essential. Even if your report does not receive top-tier coverage right off the bat, assuming the data is solid, the chances it will eventually be useful to a national reporter are quite good. The key is to be constantly on the lookout for opportunities to connect your data with industry trends and other news of the day.
Takeaway: Show up early, put in your reps
Which raises an important final point.
So far we’ve been talking about coverage as if it pops up at random, like a natural phenomenon. But of course, in most cases coverage is the intentional result of the PR team’s efforts.
That’s especially true with top-tier coverage. Reporters at national publications like the New York Times, Washington Post, Bloomberg News, CNBC are used to fielding data from trusted contacts at large analyst firms, consultancies like McKinsey and Gartner and departments of the US government. If you try to show up with data out of the blue, the trust simply won’t be there. You won’t have established yourself as a credible source.
That’s why the most effective data report is a regular data report.
Our new ebook, How to Stand Out with Data, offers this good advice: “Often it takes multiple iterations of a data report to align with the right journalist’s priorities and timings.”
Think of the first go-round as an introduction. You might not see top-tier coverage right off the bat, but with every new edition of your report, your credibility goes up — and so do your chances of seeing your hard work get the spotlight it deserves.
SVP of PR and Content at Firebrand, Chris is responsible for messaging and positioning, media strategy, content creation, campaign planning, media training and senior counsel. A skilled writer and business press specialist with deep tech expertise, Chris has previously worked as a journalist and a data-team manager.