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Nick Szabo: Talking about Analytics

By Glynn Young, APR, Fellow PRSA
Communications Director, PRSA St. Louis

Three or so years ago, I was attending a PR conference, and two presentations on PR analytics and date were scheduled back to back. The first, by a PR guy, relied heavily on social media. The presentation was a wowzer, with a multiplex of big monitor screens showing real-time Twitter, Facebook, Google analytics, and more. 

The second presentation was by a data guy, a “big data” guy. It lacked flashy screens, but what it lacked in visual sizzle it made up for with a compelling talk on the totality of the data world, and why data needed to include but go far beyond social media. The data guy, who had not seen the previous presentation, also warned the audience against flashy computer screens. 

Nick Szabo, COO of Swizzle, would likely agree with the big data guy.

Swizzle, based in St. Louis and Seoul, Korea, uses cognitive technology and artificial intelligence to make sense of customer feedback. The information it includes as feedback includes social media, emails, comments, reviews, blog posts, internal communications, and more. In fact, if it can be captured electronically, nothing really falls outside of the data examined by Swizzle. 

Szabo talked with PRSA St. Louis members at a happy hour June 14, and had important insights and a few surprises. 

What’s coming, Szabo said, is a machine that will research, start and operate a business. Using artificial intelligence (AI), “every aspect of running a business is being taught to a computer right now.”

What’s here is the ability to capture, analyze, and understand large amounts of data, using the tools of cognitive technology, he said. 

Why does PR need analytics? 

“Without analytics,” Szabo said, “PR people are guessing at what’s happening. Analytics are vital: “You need to feed your decision-making machine with as much information as possible.” 

AI offers radical change in the future, he said, but given its current state, “people are still better at creativity.” And people need to use analytics to enhance that creativity. “Analytics helps us make smarter decisions and be more creative.” 

And for those who think social media and analytics are only for the young, Szabo maintains that the people who use social media the best are older women. They haven’t been raised steeped in social media technology from the beginning; their strong suit is social interactions and relationships. And they can easily learn the technologies and platforms. 

“And yet that’s not who companies hire for social media jobs,” he said.

That would make an interesting analytics case study.


Top photograph by Farzad Nazifi via Unsplash. Used with permission.

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