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January 30, 2015

Track Smart: When to Track Data over Time

Fox Business 5.31.13 2

One option for returning newsworthy statistics from a market research firm – and gaining media attention – is tracking data over time. For a custom PR survey, this means asking the same question over a series of years to gauge change, or lack thereof – and thus, establish a trend. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • When should I track? When an issue has been covered in the past, and data over several years will support a larger trend. For example, in surveys for Brother, Wakefield asked small business owners (SBOs) what their stress level was in reaction to the current economic climate – in 2011, 2013 and 2014, against the backdrop of Great Recession recovery. Indeed, the number of SBOs who said their stress levels were higher than usual dropped by 16% between 2013 and 2014, and the stats were covered widely all three years.
  • What should I track? Questions that are likely to produce a change year-to-year as a result of a larger trend. It’s also important to make sure the trend will still be relevant in the media when the stats come out – for example, Great Recession recovery is something that business, financial and lifestyle media continue to cover.
  • Why should I track? To measure a change in data in a scientific way. A trend is all the more powerful (and compelling) when it’s proven with a measurable change in statistics.