Adam Pawluk and Ken DeutschAdam Pawluk (L) and Ken Deutsch co-authored this article.

As communication professionals, we’re always looking to give our clients a competitive edge that will help them stand out in crowded markets. As our industry buzzes with talk of data science as a new secret weapon, many PR pros have grappled with the challenge of mastering these tools. The complexity of data science often feels like cracking a code, requiring expertise to harness effectively.

Yet, thanks to recent technological advancements—such as the rise of generative AI and the emergence of user-friendly platforms like ChatGPT—the once-intimidating world of data science is now within reach. These innovations are not just changing the game; they’re providing opportunities to “futureproof” brands, opening new possibilities for communicators.

Understanding your audience

Gone are the days of a one-size-fits-all campaign that relies on broad assumptions and generalizations about an audience. At JPA Health, we understand that knowing your audience inside and out is critical to messaging and content that will capture their attention and evoke a response. We developed our AI-powered tool, GRETEL Trails, to make unlocking valuable insights into an audience’s demographics, preferences and behaviors faster and more manageable than ever.

By sifting through social media chatter, diving into purchasing patterns and dissecting online behaviors, we can paint a more comprehensive picture of what truly resonates with each audience. From the topics that pique their interest to the content formats that keep them coming back for more, GRETEL Trails provides the intel we need to craft strategies that hit the mark every time, ensuring that your brand remains relevant—futureproofed—in a rapidly changing landscape.

This article is featured in O'Dwyer's May '24 PR Firm Rankings Magazine
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Seizing opportunities

There’s also futureproofing your brand against missed avenues for growth. If navigating endless news clips and media coverage feels like searching for a needle in a haystack, integrating data science can streamline the process significantly. By comparing clips to clients’ messages and objectives, you can quickly pinpoint changes to insert brands into competitor coverage and secure future placements, proactively seizing opportunities that might otherwise slip through the cracks.

By adopting data science practices, you can significantly expand your domain knowledge by reducing redundancy—but it doesn’t replace people. While data science aids in efficiency, it’s the people working with the data that elevate our work. It takes a keen eye for strategy and established relationships to transform these identified opportunities into tangible results.

Measuring impact and forecasting trends

Data science can also help communicators measure a campaign’s impact. Traditional metrics such as impressions and reach are declining in importance due to their imprecision, as they often fail to convey a campaign’s effectiveness. Here, data science offers a more nuanced approach, measuring factors such as sentiment analysis to assess the emotional tone of the audience’s response. By analyzing these metrics, communicators can understand what aspects of their campaigns are working and what needs improvement.

Beyond assessing past performance, data science is also a powerful way to predict trends. Communicators can unveil patterns and insights to guide future strategies by delving into historical data. For example, suppose an analysis consistently shows success for a particular content type. Based on that strategic insight, we can integrate similar content into upcoming campaigns, keeping our clients ahead of the curve.

Challenges and considerations

Embracing data science isn’t just about immediate gains but setting brands up for continued relevance and success in a dynamic market. That’s why we must approach data science with a clear understanding of its potential and challenges, futureproofing brands against possible pitfalls while harnessing its transformative power to stay ahead of the competition.

While having vast and complex data at our disposal may help us gain deeper insights, make informed decisions and create more effective campaigns, it may also require us to think differently about how we work. For example, analysis requires human expertise for the most accurate interpretation and strategic application of insights, not to mention navigating the intricacies of data privacy and security to ensure adherence to laws and ethical guidelines. Seasoned data scientists, like those at JPA Health, can help clients and internal agency teams take the steps necessary to safeguard sensitive information and maintain trust with stakeholders.

At JPA Health, we’re proud of our role as early adopters of data science and understand its transformative potential in shaping behaviors. By seamlessly integrating data science into a comprehensive suite of marketing and communications tactics, we’ve learned how to maximize its power to create lasting impact, futureproofing brands and empowering our clients to make a tangible difference in people’s health. We believe that with the right skills, tools and team support, today’s communicators can unleash the full potential of data, driving unprecedented results in promoting healthier lives.


Adam Pawluk is Chief Client Officer, Life Sciences at JPA Health. Ken Deutsch is Executive Vice President, Data Science at JPA Health and leads many of the agency’s generative AI efforts.