The title of my last post ‘Care about the code, not the data’ ruffled a few feathers amongst my comrades in PR. Big budgets are being spent on advertising campaigns pushing the concept of big data to businesses and frequently social talks from bandwagon PR practitioners touch on this jargon too. In the context of creating blogs, websites and microsites — caring about the code also means caring about data.

The title aims to show the intrinsic link between code and data. Unless the code is right then you can forget about reliable, readable or relevant data.

Data drives discussion

  • In politics, all election campaigns are driven by data and Obama’s election campaign serves as a unique example of this. He properly utilised ‘big data’, cross matching social media data with other relevant sources. Whilst ultimately people won the campaign, the entire process was driven by software managing datasets. Project Houdini would have revolutionised the Election Day ground game, although it failed on the day. Good data drives discussions around political issues, if you have the right tools for the job.
  • As exampled in previous social media network analysis posts, data can be used to map stakeholders online. This frames the context behind conversations and revolutionises how communication campaigns can be structured. It is here I must add that I was only able to undertake this research thanks to the support of my employer, Keene Communications.
  • Semantic analysis software exists and assists with the automatic detection of sentiment, topicality and key words of conversations. This is by the process of a computer breaking down syntactic structures to understand the language dependent meanings of phrases. It is a significant part of data capture as it attributes values to qualitative data, something once only a computer could do. Indeed, my last post focusing on Schema.org is a foundational coding requirement for the future of the semantic web to be secured.

These are just three examples of data driving discussion. There are plenty more.

The point with the above examples is that they are driven by code. Without geeky brainpower and programming in the early hours of the morning, none of these technologies would exist. We wouldn’t have the data to analyse.

This is why code matters. This is why if you want to be in PR, you need to know the basics of coding. Still think caring about code is controversial? Then online PR or Public Affairs isn’t for you.

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