As you have probably noticed, this is the time of year when many PR practitioners let loose their fortune telling side and publish an uncountable number of articles enumerating the trends that will dominate the field during the New Year. Most of the time it seems like these predictions are a repetition of what was said last year and the year before that. Not this time.
The world of communications is abuzz with the term “Big Data”. If you don’t know what it is (as I’m ashamed to say was my case until just a few days ago) it’s high time that you read up on the subject and get with the program, as Oprah would say.
In simple terms, Big Data is essentially a very sophisticated monitoring tool which will allow us to process huge amounts of data and cross reference them so that we can determine behavioural patterns and locate trends among consumers. In fact, Big Data analytics have already started being used by the Democratic Party in the United States to gain insights about potential voters, and it is said that they are largely responsible for President Obama’s victory in the 2012 election.
By integrating the information available about a person’s use of mobile phones, the Internet, social media sites, etc. we can paint a very accurate picture of his or her needs and interests. On a PR level, this means we will be able to effectively tailor messages not to a target audience but to a particular person. On a larger scale, we as PR professionals will be able to map out the growing network of digital influencers and monitor very extensively what is being said about a product, brand or company, who is saying it and where, thus predicting problems before they arise and developing adequate responses to them in advance.
How is that for fortune telling?