FactsFacts AND Figures-Making the case for data-driven pitches

There’s a myth that journalists hate math. Not true! And in fact, a good beat reporter has to be able to compute percentages, chart growth, compare averages and, in general, hunt for trends hiding between the lines of spread sheets or school enrollment figures.

Journalists love numbers – they pack their stories with data big and small, analyzing the more or less, greater or fewer, and the highest and lowest figures as the facts that underpin the biggest headlines of the day.

So here’s a tip: Gain more attention and make your press release or pitch smarter and more timely with relevant statistics that not only provide greater context, but help the reporter.

If you represent a particular industry, get ahead of the news and be on the lookout for reports that are a strong fit to position your client, or yourself, as an expert on TV, radio, print or even the company blog, speech or powerpoint.

My go-to source? I go to where reporters do: Census.gov for stats, charts, maps and more. The U.S. Census Bureau has information on just about anything for anybody, such as:

Healthcare communicators: The annual report of health insurance stats posts in mid-September. Material for an op-ed just in time for open enrollment?

Transportation reps: Commute-to-work numbers will be updated next month. Here’s a fun fact: the average time people spent getting to work is 26.4 minutes – unless you were in the Dakotas, where it only took 16 minutes, according to last year’s report.

Insurance PR: Look for the number of businesses or homes along the coast in the Census Bureau’s special report on hurricanes.

Tech marketers: How has computer and Internet use changed? Find out August 29.

Just for Fun: The 2017 solar eclipse stellar facts and figures are due out any day.

The site’s navigation and data tables have become much more user-friendly. Beginners may want to peruse the FFF (Facts for Features, such as Back to School or Grandparents Day) or Stats for Stories (current and offbeat, such as the special report for motorcycle enthusiasts on this month’s rally in Sturgis, S.D., expecting a crowd of 500,000). If you get serious about Census.gov, sign up for the Tip Sheets or go look up your hometown in the American Community Survey.

Whether its Census.gov or PewResearch.org – my second favorite site for newsworthy trends – add more to your news pitch to make it count.


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