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Our Top Three Free Data Sources We Use to Create National Headlines

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Emma-Leigh Hull

Digital PR and Campaigns Manager

Surveys have started to make an appearance again in headlines after a few years of disappearing for a little bit.

While surveys are a top-tier way to gathering data from a selected audience, they can be really expensive – some are around £4,000 based on how many questions you want, how specific the audience is and how quick you need the results back.

So, I thought I’d look at some of my favourite data sources that I utilise frequently to create compelling PR campaigns, or even just adding a little extra ‘oomph’ to a press release. Oh, and the best thing about them is that they are completely free – all they’ll need is your precious time to sift through and analyse. 

  1. Internal Data

Monzo did a really great piece in 2019 which has stuck with me. They analysed all of their customer’s spending over the year to push stories such as where the UK’s favourite takeaways are, our favourite high street stores, our favourite shops and so on. They gathered 365-days worth of their own data and then analysed it to get free, and great, headlines that they could push.

Some types of internal data you could look at would be things such as year-on-year comparisons. How many people are coming to you for quotes compared to last year? If it’s more, you could say “X% increase in mortgage applications YoY” – if you’re a mortgage broker or bank.

And I know I said no to surveys, but what I really meant was no *paid* surveys. You have a big list of customers on your email database, why don’t you chuck them a survey with ten questions and an incentive of “fill out this survey for your chance to win?” For that extra bit of encouragement. 

You’ll be able to get data straight from your customer base. Also a great way to gather some market research too!

  1. Google Search Data

This is the quickest way to gather really useful data and spot trends. It’s also very easy to gather if you have tools such as Ahrefs or Google Keyword Planner. 

I’m pretty sure a lot of people think search-data campaigns are a bit dead now, but if so, how do you explain the hundreds of links this year from campaigns such as this?

Over Christmas, we looked at which beauty advent calendars were the most popular for our sister-company, Foundation, based on which ones were getting searched for the most. This had pick-up from some really authoritative sites that were also completely relevant to the beauty sector. such as Marie Claire, Red Magazine and Women’s Health Magazine.

Knowing what people are searching for will help you spot trends and see how they rise. Google Keyword Planner allows you to view how trends have changed year-on-year, quarterly and even view how many searches specific things, on average, are getting each month.

Similar to the advent calendar piece, you could even type in a number of brands, countries, car makes and so on, to find out which ones are being searched for the most.

This data is easy to analyse as it’s all right in front of you, plus it shouldn’t take more than an hour tops to get exactly what you need!

  1. Freedom of Information

 There are hundreds of public bodies listed on the WhatDoTheyKnow website, where you can ask them a question to answer that they have to legally answer within a short time frame. 

If there should be publicly available data on their website when there isn’t, then this is your chance to ask for it directly.

This one is probably easier to explain with an example.

A few years ago, we were curious as to how many spaces in council-run car parks were disabled, and parent-child. There was no data available online, so the best thing to do was to ask each council for the number of total spaces they have, as well as the amount that were reserved for blue-badge holders and parents. 

From this, we were able to produce headlines to suit different regions, such as this below article from The Plymouth Live.

This campaign allowed for lots of regional angles, getting our client in several regional publications for different, yet the same, stories. We pitched stories on the best places for accessible parking, the worst places for accessible parking, and even a round-up of the results which got coverage on sites such as Disability Rights UK.

So, why do we keep spending thousands of pounds on surveys when the data is right there in front of us for free? There are definitely more free data sources such as Land Registry and YouGov’s already made surveys that you can jump on the back of, but these are three that I use quite frequently, especially if I need something quick then I go straight to Google search volumes.

If you’re keen to see what types of data we could use to get you some incredible press, then get in contact with our PR team.

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By

Emma-Leigh Hull

Digital PR and Campaigns Manager

Emma- Leigh previously worked at a travel PR agency and a number of tourist boards. At Liberty she has had a keen interest in e-commerce, getting clients in as many of our clients in ‘best buy’ guides. Finance, particularly property finance, mortgage rates, creating campaigns around housing and interest rates and legal. Creating reactive PR…

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