Zeno Group global head of analytics Michael Brito says that "using data to understand the whitespace and opportunity" is key for companies wanting to raise their visibility in the media.

"Being able to understand the why behind coverage is extremely valuable," Brito says, "because clients want to understand not just the number of hits that they got on a press release or coverage, but they want to understand the context."

To garner earned media, Brito says he thinks of it "through the lens of supply and demand." He says that data can help "uncover the stories, topics, and trends that are demanding the attention of our audience" by answering such questions as "What are they writing about? How often? What's the narrative? And then asking our clients, are we meeting the demand of the audience with your supply of earned media stories? And typically, they're not."

Brito cites Cision, Meltwater and Muck Rack as top tools for tracking coverage. But he says "where we have to rely on other tools is really uncovering and unpacking the coverage and the narrative within the topics that are being written about."

Picking the right platform is also essential for your messaging, he tells Simon. "Clients will say, we want to get in the New York Times, I mean, I hear that all the time, but the reality is that the New York Times might not be the best outlet for your story. And so, by using data we can tell clients, what is the best outlet or set of outlets that can drive the most impact in terms of reputation, clicks, reach, engagement sales in some cases, and then understanding what's the right angle to get coverage in those publications."

When bringing on team members, Brito says that a talent for storytelling is more important than pre-existing data skills. "You can teach data, you can teach analytics," he tells Simon, but adds that successful communicators need to "understand how PR works, the importance of brand reputation."

Data can also help to built a good rapport with journalists. "Relationships are very important to Zeno because that's how we deliver strong coverage for clients, but the analytics can inform and help us inform and prioritize which outlets, which journalists to go after and continue to build and nurture that relationship."

View all of the interviews in the “PR's Top Pros Talk” series. Subscribe to get notified when new episodes are available.

Interested in taking part? Contact Doug Simon at [email protected]

D S Simon Media helps clients get their stories on television through satellite media tours and by producing and distributing content to the media. The company also produces live social media events.