In Communications, Numbers and Statistics are your Friends
As we watched Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s press conference to reopen the state amid the COVID-19 pandemic, we noticed the use of numbers and statistics to make his case. We also watched New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's approach to sharing numerical information during his daily press conferences.
In the ‘new normal’ with daily updates about the change in the status of cases, including deaths, recoveries and rolling averages, it is a good reminder to have a planned, specific and comprehensive communications strategy customized to your audience(s).
The importance of numbers
Do not rely solely on the numbers and statistics to communicate your message. They can be daunting. Increasing numbers can be good or bad. They can also be too much for your audience to make sense of or just make them tune out your message. Sales numbers, as an example, can tell a story, but what is that story?
According to The University of New England “Statistics can never 'prove' anything. All a statistical test can do is assign a probability to the data you have, indicating the likelihood (or probability) that these numbers come from random fluctuations in sampling.”
This type of rhetoric is also known as ‘Blah, blah, blah…buh, blah bah," which is how many people hear references to numbers and statistics when they are presented or communicated. Statistical probabilities can tell what might or might not happen, but what is the significance of those numbers?
Governors Abbott and Cuomo had a huge audience…the entire states of Texas and New York. As part of the audience make up watching these briefings, we reflected on the way MOJOZ Consulting assists in crafting these types of communications specifically for our clients and their targeted audiences.
"You have to punctuate with numbers," said author and public relations expert Eric Yaverbaum in a recent webinar about crisis response. "Numbers tell a story you can’t get around."
It starts with a plan
Numbers are just a point of reference until you put context behind them. What do you want to say? What are the key messages or action items with which you want your audience to walk away? How does it fit with your overall strategy? How should the message be conveyed? These are just a few questions that need to be asked.
Executives focus on a myriad of numerical data on daily basis, from the company's performance in the industry to that industry's performance against others. It's no secret leaders love numbers. It is very easy for them to want to communicate a specific message around information, numbers and statistics about which they get excited. Good leaders recognize there is a specific time and place for any message.
In the ‘new normal’ communications can be flash points of positivity and negativity. In these times, it helps to have a professional partner to assist with that messaging.