PR targeting: Using big data to personalise the approach

PR targeting: Using big data to personalise the approach

Charlotte Stoel

Charlotte Stoel

Most of you reading this will work in the PR and communication industry so will be as excited as me to hear about a new tool that crunches data from a person's online presence to give you tips on how to communicate with them.

Newly launched, it's called Crystal Knows and all you need is a person's name (although you can also add company and city for a more precise search). You’ll quickly find yourself searching every man and his dog - colleagues, business partners, acquaintances, friends, family, ex-employers...the list goes on. It becomes quite addictive and my experience so far shows can be scarily accurate in many cases.

How Crystal Knows works

In its free format it will give you tips of how to speak to, email, work with and sell to that person. It also lists things that come naturally and not so naturally to that individual.

Crystal reviews data it gathers from its community as well as thousands of publicly available online data sources to find information written by the individual. Crystal then runs a personality detection analysis on the text to match with one of 64 different personality types.

How it can help PR and communication professionals

Tone and style is very personal and matching these to people you contact will undoubtedly make you a better communicator. It's a great tool for better PR targeting with:

  • Stakeholders
  • Partners
  • Colleagues
  • Your boss's boss
  • ...anyone who you want on side and deserve that extra attention to detail. Office workers send or receive an average 121 emails a day, so it's important to stand out!

So, what does Crystal's analysis look like? I wanted to show you this by taking screen shots of some high profile CEOs like Mark Zuckerberg and Tim Cook, but unfortunately nothing comes up which brings up the question on its scope and accuracy.

Instead, we’ve profiled the most PR proof journalist – Robert Peston – famed for his slamming of the PR industry having called all PRs ‘the enemy’. Any PR should approach Robert Peston with caution, but here are some tips from Crystal Knows.


Robert Peston on Crystal Knows

Be mindful of the accuracy

Crystal will provide an “accuracy confidence" index which is determined by the relevance and volume of data - a useful indicator on how much you should trust the data (i.e. seriously or with a pinch of salt).

I mean, how many of you used to see how old the robot thought you are looking at just a photo of you? Many of you, I presume. And how accurate was it? Not very (but very amusing).

It's unfair to put Crystal in the same bucket as as the data analysis is a lot more sophisticated. However, it would be foolish to solely rely on the insights Crystal gives you. It’s far better to invest time in the content of your email and building that relationship so that regardless of whether you say ‘hey’ ‘hi’ ‘howdy’ or ‘dear’, that person will open, read and engage with you.

We’re sure this won’t be the last example of how big data can be used to improve communications, but it shows a growing trend and desire for improving how we communicate. We’re still yet to see the next generation of communication, despite innovations like Periscope, but we’re sure that sooner or later the ‘email killer’ will reveal itself.


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