IBM expert: Comms pros must become data scientists

Communicators must embrace their role as strategists, storytellers and scientists to succeed. Data is at the heart of it all.

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Did you know that when it rains, people eat more pie than cake? After all, pie is comfort food on a dreary day, notes IBM’s Brandi Boatner.

Likewise, when high winds blow, people eat more TV dinners. That’s because when the weather is blustery, consumers are inclined to hunker down at home and excavate a prefab meal from the freezer.

Such information would clearly be useful to Pillsbury or Swanson. But how could anyone find out such details in the first place?

The answer is simple: data, says Boatner, who is Big Blue’s social media and influencer communications lead for global markets and its brand communications manager. (It helps that IBM owns The Weather Co.) She offered her insights Wednesday at Ragan’s Future of Communications Conference in Chicago.

“You should know everything about your audience—I mean everything about your audience,” says Boatner, who bills herself as the Beyonce of the Business World. “You’re a mix of strategist, storyteller and scientist … but you need to look at data for trends.”

Boatner offered tips to help communicators distinguish simple vanity metrics from the useful data that enable trendspotting.

New skills required

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