SaaS PR: Telling a Great Story Through Data

Data crunching isn’t enough: What’s the data’s story?

“Maybe stories are just data with a soul!” ~ Brene Brown

Every good story starts with a hook — finding the cure for a brain-eating fungus in a post-apocalyptic world. Stopping the Empire from overtaking the galaxy. Playing a series of kids’ games where to lose is to die, but winning it all means making bank.

And some stories rely on data to hook their audiences. Numbers alone don’t necessarily make an impact — but when B2B SaaS marketers, PR pros (and honestly, anyone else reliant on numbers) weave a narrative around the data, presenting it in context and framing its broader implications? That’s when the magic happens.

What is data storytelling?

Data storytelling allows SaaS PR professionals to help their clients leverage complex data and analytics to build a compelling narrative that tells a specific story via graphs, charts and other visuals while informing and influencing a particular audience. When executed well, data storytelling:

  • Adds a human touch to data.
  • Elevates the value of data and insights by interpreting and highlighting the key points of complex information.
  • Helps explain data patterns and trends to non-technical audiences.
  • Builds credibility as an industry thought leader.
  • Improves data literacy by guiding people and teaching them how to read — and understand — data visualizations. 

You’ve got the data. Now what?

Interesting data stories include three main elements: the data, visuals and a narrative. These steps will help you transform your raw data into an interesting story. 

  1. Understand the question. Have you determined what question you want to answer first? If sales fell sharply last year among a certain demographic, do you know why? Knowing what you’re looking for will lead you to the best resources for the answer — whether it’s data about a product mix, marketing targets or customer preferences.
  2. Know the audience. Customize your presentation to suit them — are you sharing this story with the marketing team? Executive leadership? Board members? What’s their familiarity with the topic, problem or situation? How does it affect them? Are different presentation styles more effective than others? Can they process high levels of detail? These insights will shape your narrative approach.
  3. Analyze your data. You can’t create an interesting story without understanding the underlying data’s structure. Evaluate both the structure and quality, and highlight critical characteristics — patterns, format and completeness. You can even use a data management tool to confirm accuracy and validity.
  4. Organize and present your data consistently. Sometimes you might need to standardize formats (75% vs. .75). You may find other anomalies addressed via deduplicating, enriching or parsing. Look to other sources if your data set is incomplete.
  5. Craft your data story. Effectively using charts, graphs and other data visuals requires knowing how people perceive them. Some people want the big picture at a glance to understand the message’s value. Others want to drill down into the granular, nitty-gritty details.

In what order will you present the information to generate a maximum effect? Anticipate questions people might ask about a specific visual. The first chart might show decreased sales and the second might explain why. Think about the trends your research uncovered and organize your presentation into a logical path.

Embrace a “less is more” approach by building a story in layers. Use multiple visuals (instead of cramming everything onto one slide) so your audience won’t feel overwhelmed. Presenting everything on one crowded chart drowns out important messages. Divide the information among multiple consecutive charts, and use animations to reflect changes or add emphasis and help the story flow.

Give some love to the text accompanying the charts, which often catch the eye first. Go beyond mere labels and include a brief explanation of what it shows. Incorporate text annotations to highlight important details.

Champion simplicity. A line chart or bar graph often works well to present information — use color, arrows, circles or other simple graphics to add visual interest.

Take a look.

Don’t just take it from us SaaS PR pros, though. We pulled some of our favorite articles that do an exemplary job of weaving data storytelling into the overall narrative to educate, entertain and provoke thought.

We don’t make business decisions based on logic alone. Sure, analysis drives business thinking, but a barrage of numbers doesn’t inspire and motivate as effectively as a good story. Well-told stories create a shared human experience.

And let’s face it. Unless you’re a statistician, you’re unlikely to remember the numbers. Data in a vacuum? Pretty bland and unremarkable. But storytelling allows us to mold abstract, dry numbers into a captivating and interesting story.  And we’re far more likely to remember a story than cold, hard numbers. Want to make sure your data makes a lasting impression? Go ahead and stretch your narrative muscles.

Elevate Day 2023

I planned Our First Half-Day Training Event and Here’s What I Learned

BLASTmedia recently hosted our very first Elevate Day — a half-day training event that gave our employees the opportunity to learn about new strategies in the world of PR and content development, tap into their creative side, and learn about the SaaS investing landscape from VCs themselves.

Think somewhere between Dreamforce and a The Office-style whiteboard presentation.

We used Elevate Day to hone in on topics that we identified a need for extended training around due to market changes and evolving best practices, as well as trends we saw in a recent training benchmark survey that asked employees to self-report on their confidence level around certain skills. Each employee could choose their Elevate Day track from a number of session options in each training category to personalize the day to their individual interests.


Here are the top three things I learned (outside of making plans for unexpected weather!) at our very first Elevate Day training event:

The media landscape is changing more rapidly than we could have imagined even five years ago.

Who and how I pitched last quarter could completely differ from who and how someone else at the agency is pitching this quarter. That’s why it’s so important to knowledge share across your agency — and Elevate Day made that glaringly clear. As I listened to various sessions, I saw so many people sharing tips and tricks about new approaches they’re taking due to shifts in how reporters like to be pitched or shrinking newsroom staff. Let’s just say…Elevate Day motivated me to keep this knowledge-sharing alive and well in our agency.

The need for SaaS PR ain’t goin’ anywhere

It could be easy to think that the turbulent SaaS market means the demise of SaaS PR. But we think quite the opposite…and so do some of our favorite VC friends. In our fireside chat with Allos Ventures Managing Director David Kerr and Elevate Ventures Principal Sara Omohundro, CFA, we talked about the value of SaaS PR when it comes to a founder’s brand, building trust when times get tough, and more. Long live SaaS PR!

This conversation also reinforced the importance of tapping outside experts for their perspectives and advice. Outside of the investment landscape, we also talked about why PR sometimes gets a bad rap and ideas on how to position what we do to potentially skeptical execs or VCs (from VCs themselves!) — a conversation we face head-on regularly.

It pays to make time to learn

It’s easy to say that you want to make time to learn, but hard to actually set that time aside. Elevate Day showed me firsthand how important it is to not only create an environment of continual learning, but also to design opportunities for individuals to step outside of their norm to learn. That’s why we strategically planned the day during our regularly scheduled “No Meetings Week.”

Clearing our schedules and walking through the doors with our minds focused on soaking in everything the day had to offer made it so much easier to absorb new information and ask probing questions. I also noticed that stepping outside of our norm for a half day of learning helped boost the energy at the office and encouraged more creative thinking across the board!

Have a favorite learning event you’ve participated in that you’d like to share ideas from or want to speak at BLAST? Shoot me an email at lydia@blastmedia.com!

Why Getting Personal Matters in a SaaS PR Program

Would you rather buy from a brand pushing only product messaging or from a purpose-driven brand with a story to tell? According to AdWeek, 78% of consumers said they make purchase decisions based on their values and 55% purchase from brands that share their values. 

Currently, the economy is uncertain in the SaaS space, and many think that driving home product messaging or upping paid advertising will increase demand. But, with consumers so focused on doing good and finding alignment with their values, a key part of creating demand is leveraging personal stories through your SaaS PR program. 

While sharing personal or vulnerable anecdotes can be uncomfortable, remember that these types of stories are often the most relatable and can help build trust with your audience.

Here’s a closer look at how personal stories open the door to many brand benefits:

Humanizes the brand

Personal stories humanize your brand. We have all seen the banner changes on social media during significant events like Black History or Pride month, but do you have an individual who can share their own experience related to these events? If a company leader is willing to get vulnerable, these messages are more impactful and authentic than just going with the status quo. 

Providing a direct tie back to critical DEI conversations or worldly trends improves reputation with customers and is also positive for recruiting. If candidates can relate to company leadership personally, they’re more likely to consider your company when narrowing their options.

Example: Jeni Mayorskaya Creates Stork Club To Help People Control Their Reproductive Lives

Builds the subject matter expert’s personal brand

Personal stories not only improve brand perception but also help to build the brand of an individual subject matter expert. More than ever, people want to buy from people, and investors want to invest in leaders. 

But don’t fall victim to the myth that personal stories don’t provide valuable lead-generation opportunities. Since tier-one media are often more interested in features with a person at the core, they can improve your ability to rank in search as a thought leader and company. Not to mention, those “about the author” sections often include the prized backlink!

Example: How I’ve leveraged my bipolar 2 for success as a CEO

Creates differentiation to pique reporter interest

Securing opportunities with tier-one media is often a goal many organizations want from their SaaS PR program. A key item to achieve this goal is to build rapport and foster a relationship with editors who may reach out for commentary opportunities in the future. 

Well, rapport doesn’t happen overnight — and definitely doesn’t happen by constantly shoving product messages at a reporter. Leveraging personal stories is typically a great place to start. They let a reporter get to know you as an individual, company leader and then get to know your brand. 

They may not result in a story right away, but they often create opportunities in the long run. 

Example: My Coach Taught Me How To Sit In An Office Chair – And It Made A Difference! The Evolving Story Of Sam Isaacson’s Coaching Career

In today’s world, surface-level commentary will not cut it. Reporters and buyers want more, and we need personal, meaningful connections to capture media and audience attention. To learn more about how personal stories can improve your SaaS PR program, contact Lindsey Groepper

ChatGPT’s Impact on SaaS Marketing: First Take

Like many, I’ve spent the last few months reading, watching and listening to various opinions regarding generative AI and ChatGPT, a large language model trained by OpenAI. This technology takes immense amounts of data, looks for patterns, and becomes more proficient at mainly generating accurate and probable outputs. The buzz surrounding the tech today is primarily around the humanlike language and thoughts it can generate with only a few inputs from you or me. 

More specifically, I’ve naturally leaned into how AI bots like ChatGPT affect the marketing industry and our future as a SaaS PR agency. Through this journey, I’ve realized that many of us are asking the wrong question. It’s not about whether or not ChatGPT will replace marketing jobs. The reality I’ve come to accept, and excitedly so, is that marketers who embrace ChatGPT will replace those who do not. And I believe this holds for every company across every sector. 

The businesses that are quickest to adopt and refine this technology will win. 

If you’re still on the fence about generative AI, I get it. It’s a lot to digest. To help potentially reframe your thinking, I’ll tackle a few overarching takeaways from the hours of material I reviewed, including insight from academics, technologists, marketers and analysts.

The technology reflects us

There will be ChatGPT champs and chumps, as ChatGPT starts with a human entering a prompt for a specific outcome. Suppose a particular human is apathetic about their job, takes shortcuts, and is generally lazy before using ChatGPT. In that case, there is a good chance ChatGPT will be used in a way that reflects poorly on the technology and its output. The output quality will depend on how much attention and time is spent on the input and refining the results. The lazy human will take the first draft received from the bot and run with it as the final. 

On the flip side, if one approaches the technology from the viewpoint of being a beginning point, an idea-starter, and a tool to be more efficient, the strength, value and perception of the technology will be positive. The intuitive and intentional use of ChatGPT can result in helpful and valuable outputs if you approach it the right way. 

Bots can’t be “forwardists”

AI bots like ChatGPT are limited to replicating what they’ve learned from what already exists online. And the training set currently only includes data through 2021. For example, ChatGPT won’t be able to create language around a new SaaS category, introduce a future concept or promote a new product because there is likely nothing accurate online about it yet from which to pull data.

Creating new points of view and introducing fresh concepts or unique predictions will still require human insight and creativity.

If you’ve played around with ChatGPT, as I have, you’ll see both the impressive value and the limitations of the technology. For example, I noticed very confident falsities in the output, “facts” that were inaccurate or not cited. In addition, most results were fairly general and baseline, even with intentional and detailed inputs.

ChatGPT isn’t good enough (yet) to be a competitor

The technology isn’t good enough yet to be seen as a competitive threat or a viable replacement for human creativity and common sense. Rather, it’s just another new tool in the martech stack. It’s insanely helpful at cranking out a “crappy first draft” when staring at a blank page, writing alternative headlines or email subject lines, and revising content in another tone or voice. 

Think of ChatGPT as adding a new instrument to the band. It enhances the overall sound but doesn’t replace or compete with the other instruments. 

Bot bias is real

One of the key challenges with AI-generated content is the risk of bias, which shows up for a couple of reasons. First, the AI has trained on a biased sample set because the internet inherently is limited with a general lack of representation in its content. Second, humans are biased, so human-created content is biased too. 

Marketers need to be trained and more attentive to bias and take steps to minimize it in their communication. It is not a simple tech fix, but it requires a conscious effort on the part of marketers to ensure their communication is unbiased and inclusive.

Modern marketing teams will adapt ChatGPT; it’s inevitable if you want to survive. But it’s up to us humans to use it effectively and creatively. As with any tool, it’s only as helpful as the person wielding it. So, let’s become highly skilled at our technique and use it when needed and for the proper purpose. 

BLASTmedia Named to US Agency Awards Shortlist

(INDIANAPOLIS – Oct. 28, 2021) – BLASTmedia, the only PR agency dedicated to B2B SaaS, was recently named to the US Agency Awards Shortlist in the Best Large Agency of the Year category.  

The US Agency Awards celebrate and reward exceptional U.S.-based agencies, campaigns and talent based on factors like progress toward agency goals and outstanding examples of client work. As a finalist in the Best Large Agency of the Year category, BLASTmedia is recognized as a standout agency among over 150 advertising, marketing and PR agencies that applied.

“2021 has been a year of exponential growth for our agency,” said BLASTmedia President Lindsey Groepper. “Increasing demand for our SaaS PR services has yielded a 100% increase in headcount since this time last year — while nearly doubling revenue. To be a finalist in the Best Large Agency of the Year category is further validation of how we are delivering consistent value for our roster of B2B SaaS clients.”

Facilitated by Don’t Panic Projects, judging features a panel of leading in-house marketing, communications and advertising professionals representing the world’s biggest brands, including Navico, Nestlé and Snap Inc. Winners of the US Agency Awards will be announced Nov. 23. 

For more information about BLASTmedia, including career opportunities with the B2B SaaS PR agency, visit https://www.blastmedia.com/careers/.

About BLASTmedia 
Established in 2005, BLASTmedia is the only PR agency in the US dedicated to B2B SaaS, representing companies in all growth stages—from startup to publicly traded. BLASTmedia understands the unique challenges associated with scaling a SaaS business and uses media coverage and thought leadership campaigns to impact four primary pillars: investors, employees, partners, and customers.

2021 SaaS PR Predictions

This time each year we work with our clients to put together predictions for the year ahead, and for the past few years we’ve been taking our own advice and creating SaaS PR predictions of our own. 

Looking back on a year that, to put it gently, went completely off track, I was surprised to see many of our predictions for 2020 panned out (on the PR front). This year, we saw fewer SaaS marketing execs using share of voice as their standalone metric to measure the success of PR. We also saw a much closer integration between our clients and their customers — so much so that we now offer to interview and write customer stories on behalf of our clients.

When I sat down to think about 2021, a few things immediately came to mind. Yes, some of those things are related to the pandemic and how it impacted the way we do work, but other trends were well underway beforehand.

Paywalled journalism means we must adapt 

It’s happened to all of us — you see an interesting story shared on Twitter and click to learn more only to be hit with a paywall. While it can be frustrating, paywalls actually make a lot of sense. Think about it: you pay for Hulu with no ads, you pay to join Dave Gerhardt’s Patreon marketing group, you even pay for access to workouts on Peloton — why wouldn’t you pay for unlimited access to news content created specifically for your interests? 

As talented journalists continue to fall victim to shrinking newsrooms, they’re increasingly turning to platforms like Substack to grow followings of their own. Most recently startup reporter Eric Newcomer left Bloomberg to start Newcomer, a subscription newsletter about startups and venture capital. Earlier in the year tech journalist Casey Newton left The Verge to start Platformer, and before that Fortune’s Polina Marinova Pompliano left to build The Profile. I anticipate many more will follow suit. 

Earlier in the year, I sent a few questions on paywalls to Travis Bernard at TechCrunch. He launched TechCrunch’s subscription platform ExtraCrunch just a year earlier. His newsroom faced a choice: broaden coverage to drive up advertising impressions and therefore dollars, or double down on a smaller, more engaged audience willing to pay. They chose the latter. 

So, what does this mean for those of us in SaaS PR? Get creative about what you consider an “outlet.” It no longer needs to be TechCrunch or Forbes to count as meaningful coverage for your brand. Encourage your client/boss to look past vanity metrics like unique monthly visitors. As journalists are building their audiences, these metrics may or may not be available. 

Build relationships with emerging publications (including podcasts), and get comfortable with explaining the value of coverage behind a paywall to your client. Sure, there are challenges (namely, sharing on social) but the inherent value is the already engaged, paying audience. And, ask your CFO for more room in the 2021 budget for news subscriptions. 

Speaking slots will become even more difficult to secure 

Now that Neil Patel, Jay Baer and Seth Godin can speak at 10 conferences in a matter of days — what’s left for the rest of us? I am halfway kidding but, if you think securing speaking slots isn’t going to get a lot more difficult in 2021, you should reassess your goals. 

  • Exhibit A) Many events well into 2021 are still going to be canceled, creating fewer overall opportunities.
  • Exhibit B) For virtual events, travel, and its associated costs, are eliminated. This means we’ll see the most well-respected speakers speaking more often.

Those two items lead to a lack of opportunity for anyone not already an established keynote. My advice? Keep your events/speaking team focused on small, local or industry-specific events to build your reel until events and speaking slots become more widely available, hopefully in 2022. 

Audiences wise up to newswires — kind of

For better or for worse, 2021 is not the year the newswire dies. In simple terms, newswires have value because we believe they have value. So, until your CEO stops forwarding you Google Alerts he has set for competitors’ press releases with the “why aren’t we getting this type of press” note attached, newswires are a necessary means to a “make the CEO happy” end. 

In 2021, marketing and comms leads will start considering the broad spectrum of places outside of a wire we can place releases. A company blog or, if you have some extra budget, a paid posting in a trade publication are valid options to consider, and can often have the same impact as a newswire posting (minus the syndications). 

While wires themselves are likely to remain a piece of your PR puzzle in 2021, I think most SaaS PR people will no longer find value in the “outreach” efforts offered by wire services. The claims they send your press release “directly to the newsrooms of all the top media publications,” while technically true are completely useless. And, candidly, in eight years of doing media relations, I have never seen a single organic story run as a result of this type of distribution.

Deskside meetings are *finally* put to bed 

This is one area of PR that has certainly been impacted by the coronavirus, and I think for the better. Speaking specifically within the realm of SaaS PR — desksides are no longer an impactful way to communicate with journalists. Now that desks themselves (at least the kind in large office buildings) are few and far between, deskside meetings have become a relic of our PR past. 

As we’ve learned over the past year, we can be just as impactful and collaborative without being in person. Instead of forcing a press tour to work because they’re what you’re used to, set availability for your executive or spokesperson over the course of a week. Slot in interviews as they make sense for availability and interest on both sides, and if the meeting requires a product delivery, send it ahead of time. Make sure to get updated contact information for the journalists, though, since they’re likely not in an office. (PS — phone etiquette changes when it’s a cell phone you’re calling. Proceed with extreme caution.) 

I think I speak for all of us when I say we’re looking forward to putting 2020 behind us. But, for a year that turned out to be quite challenging, it sure did teach us a lot — especially when it comes to communication. 

Never has it been more important to put time and effort into what you’re saying, who you’re talking to, and why you’re saying it. From communication to your employees on a shift to working from home to communicating to the world what you stand for, putting thought behind your words is never going out of style. 

What do you predict 2021 will hold for SaaS PR? Share with us on LinkedIn or Twitter

5 Indicators You Should Invest in PR

Public relations can often fall to the bottom of a company’s to-do list. Businesses need exposure, credibility and awareness and PR is crucial in the process of achieving those. While it is easy to put off PR, it is never too late to start your journey. If you find yourself asking “is it time to invest in PR,” look for these five key moments. These indicators are great signals that your company is primed to start a PR program. Continue reading “5 Indicators You Should Invest in PR”

3 Things Social Media and Media Relations Share

Laying the marketing foundation for a SaaS brand is no easy task. It takes hard work, strategy and a methodical touch to create a business that not only provides a good solution to customers but is a respected source of knowledge in the marketplace. While this takes time — read: years — strategies like social media and media relations are key to taking your brand from an idea to an industry name.

Continue reading “3 Things Social Media and Media Relations Share”

MarTech Companies Moz and 6sense Join BLASTmedia SaaS Client Roster

(INDIANAPOLIS — November 29, 2018) — BLASTmedia, the only B2B SaaS PR agency, welcomes Moz and 6sense as new clients in Q4. The scaling west-coast SaaS brands tapped BLASTmedia to lead media relations and thought leadership efforts, helping increase industry influence and raise the visibility of executive team members. Continue reading “MarTech Companies Moz and 6sense Join BLASTmedia SaaS Client Roster”