Using data to track the success or failure of media campaigns is not a new concept. Back in 1927, the public relations industry made a name for itself when Arthur Page negotiated the top communications job working for AT&T. At the time, AT&T was under consumer scrutiny for its monopolization of the market. Nearly 90 percent of brand coverage was negative.

Page took a data-driven approach to solve this PR problem. He researched consumer sentiment and understood how consumers felt about the company. He used those data points and his research to reposition AT&T as a public utility, using tangible examples of how the company made a positive impact on society and consumers. The data-driven campaign worked. Arthur Page’s successful approach went on to spur a golden age of public relations and elevated the position of comms professionals to one of advisor and strategist for corporate leadership.

Fast-forward to today, where something has been lost: the data behind the decisions being made. According to the 2018 Global Comms Report, 77 percent of PR and comms respondents indicate that comms still can do a better job at measuring and proving its impact on business objectives. The comms profession often struggles to command the respect it deserves. But how did the industry fall so far in prominence? Why are PR pros, who were once held in such high esteem, now locked out of boardrooms and c-suite conversations? Why did comms professionals lose their budgets to their paid and owned counterparts?

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