Data Journalism is for Marketers, Too [Podcast Episode]

Amanda Milligan
By Amanda Milligan
February 2, 2021

Data journalism can help you build backlinks and brand awareness.

But executing it can be tough. (This is why Fractl offers it as a service, after all.)

I loved having the opportunity to talk to my friend Laura Morelli from Semrush about how she's used data journalism to elevate the Semrush brand.

 

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Want to see Laura walk through an entire example of how she came up with a data journalism campaign and pitched it to the media? Sign up for our monthly podcast newsletter to get exclusive access to bonus interview content and resources! We'll release this bonus content at the end of February 2021.

 

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • Why marketers should care about data journalism
  • How to determine if a content idea is newsworthy
  • How to find more data-driven content ideas
  • How to use Semrush for data-driven storytelling
  • How to present data when pitching a journalist

Related links/resources:

Transcription:

Amanda: Hey, friends, welcome to Cashing in on Content Marketing, I'm Amanda Milligan, the marketing director at Fractl, and every week on the show, I interview marketing experts about ways to know the value of your work and get buy in for your strategies. This week, I'm so pleased to welcome my friend Laura Morelli on the show, she's the global media manager at Semrush and she's going to talk about the value of data journalism. Welcome to the show, Laura.

Laura: Thanks for having me, Amanda.

Amanda: We met when I was on your show, The Marketing Scoop Podcast, I'll be sure to link to that in the show notes and you are just so awesome and smart and I'm so glad to have you on. So, to kick things off, can you just talk about your background? Because you've seen kind of both sides of the journalism world, you've been a reporter yourself, and now you work to pitch reporters so, I love that you've seen kind of both sides of that. Can you talk a little bit about your background? 

Laura: Yeah, definitely. It's been quite a journey and like you said, it's funny being on both the dark side, look at that as you like, but I think I just always wanted to get into journalism. So, I completed a bachelor’s degree in communications, majoring in journalism in Australia, Sydney, and I was lucky enough to get a scholarship to a university in Paris and I promised myself from that moment on that I'd have to work and travel overseas, which is why I'm in London at the moment, living here and working here. But, started off interning at MTV, doing lots of kind of the glamorous side of things, which is just interviews with lots of celebrities and that was really, really fun and then got my first job at Sky News, I was in multifunctional journalist there. So, I did digital desk, I did news production behind the scenes, and then I actually did some entertainment reporting as well and I was pretty lucky to interview some cool celebrities, I've got Hugo Weaving, who I'm a big fan of, Kim Kardashian, Tina Areina, who's amazing, yeah, heaps of really interesting, quirky characters. And then after that, I went to a few other channels doing TV reporting and editing, and producing and then, got a really cool job at the National Indigenous Television channel so, that's, yeah, really, really awesome company to work for at SBS and I was doing lots of First Nations reporting, yeah, lots of cool interviews as well. And then l that's when I pretty much decided cool, I had had enough of Sydney and wanted to come to London and then I got in the world of SEO journalism so, that was really cool. I got a job at News UK and I was producing SEO content and videos and then that's when I started linking up with Semrush, obviously, amazing SEO company. So, that's when it all kind of linked to kind of start blending data driven journalism, with search trends. And yes, I am here today.

Amanda: I love how-- hearing how people get into this industry, it seems like, I know for me, I just fell into it, I didn't even know it was an industry until suddenly I was in it. So, it's cool to see how you had, it was just like in your job, it suddenly became like, "Oh, now you have the right for SEO as well," it's not just separate from ranking online.

Laura: That's the funny thing, I was chatting to someone from MuckRack, actually, who was on the new marketing script and we were just yeah, really, really kind of breaking down SEO and especially SEO in journalism and funnily enough, like, I mean, I don't know how we didn't kind of focus on it more in the beginning, but you know, small things from writing the title to kind of having those hashtags or keywords, you know, all the content, the style of the content, you know, the pictures used, the captions, everything is so SEO focused. So, it's just naturally been ingrained in most media people and professionals but yeah, only now I feel like a bit more of an expert in this world.

Amanda: So, before I get into some of the other questions about data journalism, can you talk about what it is? First, from your perspective, what is data driven journalism?

Laura: Yes, so, I mean, specifically with Semrush, it's pretty interesting. I guess, okay, I'll break it down into what I know data journalism is with what I use it with on a day to day basis. But have you ever wondered what the wider public thinks when it comes to having a female James Bond? Have you ever wondered how many people are searching how to learn sign language in America? Or perhaps you know, what state's searching the most for how to get a divorce during COVID? Maybe you want to know what US brands have seen spikes to their websites during lockdown, maybe you want to know what changes have been in ad spend, or learn new trends across the country, or across the globe as well, basically, Semrush can get all of this data. So, we analyze search trends across the globe, we can see your new patterns, we identify a shift in consumer behavior, demand, opinion, everything. So, we've got the domain analysis, where we're able to see, you know, shifting patterns in site popularity, ad spend, we can see what categories specific brands budgets are being spent on. We have sentiment analysis; we can identify the wider public's reaction to topical and controversial conversations on social media. So basically, when we talk about data journalism, it is everything that is what you are searching for as a person behind the screen.

Amanda: I love that. It's just another way of getting at the very typical question research that anybody who works in content or SEO kind of has to do is exploring what are people wondering about like, you led with, have you ever thought about x, y, z? And there are ways to find that, right? There are tools where you can do that onlin and then you're saying, okay, here are those questions, now we have the tools to provide at least a perspective of what those answers can be, and I think that's a really good way of kind of describing data journalism. It's like, you're still answering those questions, you're just trying to get more quantitative information behind those answers. 

Laura: Yeah, exactly, 100% Amanda, like spot on with that answer. Because like, especially now, at a time where fake news is rife, you know, the world really does have that need for, you know, real facts and kind of what the actual numbers are, and not just, you know, commentary and opinion pieces, but actual stats to back up what's happening around the world.

Amanda: Actually, on that note, because you are a journalist for so long, you know, what do you think that data driven journalism needs to have in order to build that trust? Obviously, inherently, having the data is a big part of that, it's like, we didn't just come up with this information, we base this on some sources, but I know that there's been more scrutiny over like, oh, what are those sources? Like, people aren't always checking like the source of material or like how much data was gathered and that sort of thing. Like, what what do you use as kind of like, even if you're looking at it from the perspective of, you're getting pitched, for example, like when you're a journalist, like, what are some red flags for you or what are things that you kind of expect from data you're sent?

Laura: Yeah, I think, this is a tricky thing, obviously but it's, you know, credibility is everything, you know, for journalists, and for any media professional, obviously, credibility, and trustworthiness has to be your top priority. So, I think, especially when it came to getting data as a journalist, we would work with government officials, or, you know, research findings, from, you know, big name brands, and people who did the hard work. I'm a massive fan for online search behavior kind of patterns and trends because at the end of the day, you know, I mean I know, I'm definitely the first person, if I need something, if I need to check something, my first point of call is online, I go to Google, and I search, you know, my symptoms, or if I'm feeling sick, or you know, if someone's asking a question in trivia and I don't know the answer, I'm definitely going to google it afterwards to find out that answer. So, you know, I'm definitely pretty keen to see what the trends are from online search behavior.

Amanda: So, backing up a little bit, we talked about how when people ask questions online, and we're curious about the answers, that could be a really good source of a project, but what in your eyes qualifies as something that's actually newsworthy? How do you get a sense of this is going to be interesting for people, this is going to be something that people are going to want to cover if we put all of this together?

Laura: Yeah, that's a great question, Amanda. I like to just think, you know, pure, simple, imagine you're scrolling on your phone, and you see something interesting. If you think it's interesting, I'm sure everyone else will think it's interesting, you know, or if you're telling a story, and it's a good bit of gossip that's really, really captivated people, you know, there's something extra to explore in that story. But I also-- we have a little thing at work where we like to, you know, we say jazz it up or make it sexy, you know, if you've got like a really cool title, if you've got something really cool to kind of work with, like, if there's just one cool element that you can dig deeper into, be it a character, be it the topic, be it the stat or fact figure, anything like that. If you've got something really cool that you can just really use as your hook like your news hook, then you can always flesh it out, any story, no matter what it is, but if you've got one cool, captivating thing, I think that's when you know, cool, there is a story, whatever my story is to tell, I know I've got something to work off.

Amanda: I love that we're talking about this because I think this is the first time on the show where something's like super relevant to what we do at Fractl, maybe not the first time but definitely, we create data driven campaigns for our clients, and we've seen in these projects that it will be sometimes one tiny data point that blows up. 

Laura: Yeah, I remember when you gave me that example of the home decor, and it was some really cool random fact and then that was your story. Like, that is an amazing example.

Amanda: Yeah. And it really kind of made us think, not only, you don't want to get too in the weeds, right? It's like, you don't want to talk forever, because people kind of zone out with that but it was like, we need to make sure that we include some different angles and then we would imagine, what are the headlines that would accompany these things? And that's how we would kind of visualize if it might succeed.and like, similar to the way you're saying, would I find this interesting if I was scrolling through my phone? Would I stop? Would I share it with my friends? It was like, how do I visualize what this headline might look like and then it's like, okay, this makes it into the project then, if we can imagine that happening.

Laura: That's really yeah, that's a perfect way, I love the title like angle. And I've heard another thing, which I haven't tried yet, but I've been told also looking at it backwards. So, starting from the end, and then working your way up to the top.

Amanda: You mean like literally like, what you're looking at the story? 

Laura: Yes, exactly. I don't know if you've ever done that, or if you've ever heard of that concept but I have a team who is very, very, like they like swear by that.

Amanda: So wait, walk me through that, because I've heard about that for editing actually, I've heard about that about copy editing, like in order to like, get yourself out of the weed to the project if you've worked on something for days, and you just don't want to look at it anymore, they're like, oh, you know, either make the font different size or read it backwards, because it kind of takes you out of the normal experience. So, how does that work for determining if something's interesting?

Laura: I feel like we'll definitely have to like, check this with them later but along the lines of like, thinking about the reaction, so the reactive point of view from the story you're about to do, is it positive? Is it negative? Then working with like the body of the story, like, what is the aim of the conclusion? What did the readers get from it? Then, you know, what information, what was like, the educative kind of angle? And then, what's the hook? So, then kind of working backwards. And then, the title, you know, so I think it's about kind of creating, I think it's thinking what you want to do for your audience.

Amanda: Yeah. It's like impact focused, I like that. I've never thought of it that way but yeah, it's like, how do we want or how do we think that the audience is going to react and then actually setting the story up to accommodate that. That's cool. So, when you like got into this work, obviously, you had the journalism background and we already talked about like question research, but how did you get ideas as to the types of things that people might be interested in? Like, where did you find that inspiration from? 

Laura: Literally, that was having the news on in the background and hearing them talk about- - I think I gave the example, for example, there was the James Bond, everyone was like, oh, the reports were just mixed, it was like, some people saying, yes to it being a female and others are saying no. So, I just thought, well, hold on, let's just find out what that is. Like, we've got the tool to do it, as you said, and one really powerful case, it worked really well in our favor and again, just out of pure genuine interest was, at the time, Michael Jackson, that documentary was being played and everywhere on the radio and the television, everyone was just saying he's lost his fan base, he's lost his fan base, you know, Michael Jackson's not getting-- all of his loyalty has been lost, we're stopping all this music, you know, basically, he'll be forgotten about and I was just thinking, that's interesting, because, you know, he's got a huge fan base, how could it just all be so negative? So, what we ended up doing was collecting Twitter sentiment analysis and contrary to what the news was saying, which is again, why I love having the stats to tell the truth, he's the positive negative sentiment was in his favor,100%, it was ridiculous how high it was in his favor and then the top hashtags were boycott HBO, MJ innocent, you know, support MJ. So, it just showed no, he hasn't lost his fan base and, you know, media does need to kind of be careful and think about what they're reporting on because, yeah, you definitely need the stats to back it up, especially in things like that. But we had those stats, and I remember the BBC got hold of them, and it just spread like wildfire, like everyone was like desperate to have those solid facts to say, well hold on a minute. No, actually look at the response and not just response on Twitter, it was a global response. So, it was people kind of feeding off real stats that showed, hold on a minute, this is what we've got to prove. So, to answer your question, it's just generally what I'm interested in, I want to know some stats behind it and then again, just monitoring news and thinking cool, there's a story about, you know, COVID, it's been in our news agenda for the whole year, well, what do we want to know about it? I actually wonder what is the most searched thing got to do with COVID because when we do the Semrush tool, let's say, you give me a word, I can do a collect plus related search terms, which just shows everything that's the top searched for when it comes to that one keyword. So, we can actually really discover some interesting trends and patterns from just one keyword. So yeah, just general interest in different news topics, from breaking news to the entertainment, to lifestyle, and anything else in between.

Amanda: I love that example. I've always had this theory that there are so many times where we kind of like assume something's true, and we feel that something is true and like in your case, it was this suspicion that like, oh, he probably hasn't lost his fan base, right? And you have this idea that you feel like is probably anecdotally the case for a lot of people, that they think it but then if you provide the data, it does catch on so well, because it's like validating to people, like I knew-- I thought this was the case and now I can prove that it's the case with this data set that somebody provided. And I think that's a really-- it's a rare but super effective, sweet spot for anybody who's doing this type of work, even if you're working at a you know, for a brand, if you're thinking like I think this thing is true, but I've never gotten like the data around it or, like found a way to prove it, if you have a thought like that, like run with that. I think that's a very effective way to approach it. So, you just, you recently won an award for your work like this, can you tell us about that award and walk through the project? Because I think I mean, this shows a really great example of how powerful this kind of work can be in addition to the marketing ramifications, but actually, like how much truth they can unearth.

Laura: Yeah, so we were really excited to win such a powerful award like that, and obviously be part of a very, very important conversation but, it was just quite funny, because it was just a bit of a nightmare during that submission, just because we were doing something so different to the norm, that we just thought we were completely out of our realm, but we ended up being totally on top of it. So again, really, really proud to be part of it. But I think we just wanted to prove that there is such a thing as like mission driven marketing, in that sense, where we would-- we don't have, you know, maybe a campaign that, you know, did really, really well and changed a lot of lot of minds but what we did do was contribute to important conversations, and really, really try and give people free data insights, which are very rare and we're just trying to show our support for, in terms of media professionals as a whole. So, we definitely-- I'll just run you through it, as you said, yeah. Basically, my aim at Semrush, the reason I was hired was to, you know, obviously try and show the importance of data driven journalism, and to try and intertwine statistics for storytelling. So, with that in mind, we wanted to be part of really important conversations and we're thinking, you know, as we're just discussing what is topical in the news? What do people want to know about? What can we show? Or, you know, what can we uncover with our statistics? So unfortunately, as you know, we all know, during lockdown, you know, people were victims of domestic abuse and it was unfortunate that at the very beginning, this was all happening and there was no official statistics out on that at the moment. So, no one was aware that people are suffering in silence, because, you know, the abuse hotlines, they didn't have the information yet and obviously, the news didn't get the official reports until months and months later. 

So, Semrush was actually really, really a fantastic tool to kind of really analyze what was going on. So, you know, we were able to become part of that important conversation, drive awareness and we made that service available for all journalists and we were able to show the spikes of searches for domestic abuse related with websites. So, from the National one to specific ones, to women and children's ones, we could show the percentage increase, month on month on month to show, well, it was here, now it's here and now, you know, driven up to this in just this many months. We could see the searches for domestic abuse made it quite clear that these were first time victims because it was people asking what is domestic abuse. So, it's those kinds of questions that were very simple and just quite scary because it was literally people who were clearly never dealing with it before, but now all of a sudden dealing with it. So, yeah, we were really, really lucky to be able to get into those results and find out where in the UK so we could break it down, in terms of regions, where in the UK was suffering the most and like I said, we did the site traffic, we did searches, questions, and just saw so many stats.

Amanda: So, this is another really good example, there's a couple things I wanted to touch on from what you just said, another really good example of how you were able to lend data to journalists who were already covering these types of stories, but didn't have what they needed. And that's something to really keep tabs on I think, as a marketer, it doesn't always have to be national news, it's just what in your industry, is there still kind of like an open ended question about and how can you help provide to that conversation? But the other thing you touched on in this really pointed example, this difficult topic is that there are people behind all this data and in this case, I think it's more apparent, but this is always the case; its actually human beings that we're talking about. So how, especially in like less obvious scenarios, how do you bring kind of the humanity to the project? How do you make it captivating? How do you take the data and turn it into a story? 

Laura: Great question, Amanda. I think good journalism lies in finding that human angle and specifically, in the case that we worked with, a lot of victims couldn't actually speak up openly and obviously, they were suffering in silence behind closed doors so, they couldn't really pick up their phones and you know, call support lines or get the advice they needed in lockdown, they were obviously turning to the online space to seek help. So, when we kind of changed those stories, we definitely get the data, uncover those, you know, hidden stories, and we find people to kind of speak on that. So, it's as much as a mixed kind of report, as you could imagine so, we'd obviously have the stats, we'd have the experts so, we'd, you know, from a charity, domestic abuse charity, potentially, or, you know, potentially a psychologist who could speak on the issue and then of course, we'd also try and find someone who, unfortunately, had dealt with domestic abuse and could speak as, you know, the expert on that, as well as a source. So, it's about blending different stories, and having the right mix of, you know, expert with the actual source, who's kind of the storyteller, and then the stats to back up everything to kind of show the trends and the patterns and the need for this reason-- the need for the story to the actually told and to the wider public.

Amanda: I love that. So, you're actually including real human voices to accompany the data and give that additional perspective of all the people who are impacted by this or have a sense of why they're impacted by it.

Laura: Yeah, definitely, with most of our stories, we definitely do try and either find, we do have that expert voice, you know, we did another one about conspiracy theories and we had a conspiracy theorist expert, who would gladly want to jump on and speak about the data, because he was so excited, he was so passionate, that that was his own expertise. So, he was more than happy to be the expert and then, you know, we've had, when we did meat free Christmas last year, searches for meat free Christmas were hugely on the rise so, we actually got a boutique vegan, she was like a vegan shop owner and she obviously was able to put her expertise behind the stats and prove that, yeah, my sales have been, you know, completely out of the roof this year because obviously, there is a demand for vegan free Christmas, and you know, eco friendly gifts and stuff. So, we definitely love to have a mix of voices to really back up the data and just tell a better story.

Amanda: I like that. And it's encouraging marketers to be more like journalists, ask people and you get the bonus of those people probably promoting the story that you're putting together because they were involved in creating it in some way. So, what does it look like when you're actually packaging all of this together? Like, what does the end result look like? When you're sending this to journalists and you're saying, like, look at this cool thing we put together, I know, on our end, we create like a whole page for it. So, like graphics and text, like what is your approach?

Laura: I laughed then because literally just had a bit of a nightmare thought in my mind of when I get the data, it's just raw numbers on an Excel sheet and I literally want to rip my hair out but no, no, I-- again, I think I'm very lucky to come from that journalist background. I think if I had asked someone for data, and I got sent what we get as the raw data, I would just delete it, I would have no idea what to do with it. So, what I do is, with all the people I work with, I make sure I know what-- I just say, give me your aim, give me one sentence, what are you looking for? What do you want? So, they'll give me that and then I know when I grab the data, because we've got, you know, 1000, you've seen it, 1000s and 1000s and 1000s of numbers, just in one page or in 10 pages, just, it is a lot to deal with. So, I make sure I do break it down, I find the top trends, and I work one on one with my data scientists to kind of see, you know, maybe emerging patterns or crazy spikes during lockdown, or, you know, we work together to find the real story in it, highlight that, and then obviously, make sure we get the aim of the person who's requested that data as well. But, so I will pretty much use dot points, I think they're just the easiest so, I'll just say, you know, according to, you know, UK, US or global searches, we've seen a percentage increase this much since the dates, and then I'll try and break it down for them as much as possible. And yeah, like I said, we've got the site analysis, we've got search trends that can be broken down by region, we've got Twitter sentiment analysis so, depending on what they want, I will make it as either colorful, like with Twitter sentiment analysis, we've got most used emojis, we've got, you know, fun things like the hashtag so, you know, we can kind of make it colorful with graphs to try and make it easy and digestible. But when it's search trends and stuff like that, we try and really beef it out by showing the spikes, the growth, the patterns, your new trends, etc. So, I like to work quite simply with my dot points but yeah, sometimes I like a graph here and there as well when I can.

Amanda: Yeah, I don't know if you agree with this but what we found is there's so much data that even already exists online, but it's never packaged in a really, like, interesting, easy to understand way and there's so much possibility there, if you take the time to be that person to say what do all these numbers actually mean? What are they trying to tell us? And to package it in a way where someone's like, oh, they can look at it quickly and actually understand what that information is trying to say, that can take you very far.

Laura: Yeah, 100% Amanda. I swear, every time I reach out to journalists, and I think I was telling you about some issues I faced, especially journalists in the UK, when I offer them data, they say no, sorry, I don't do that, I'm not a data journalist. But I'm trying to explain to them, it doesn't -- you don't have to be, we've got data on like I said, entertainment, you know, from celebs to pets to, any term that has been searched on Google, we've got that data. So, I think everyone naturally freaks out the minute they hear data, because they don't know what to do with it and I was one of them, I hated numbers. I was in high school, my dad was an accountant and oh, my gosh, he used to train me for math and boy, would I get in trouble when I couldn't get a percentage right. I just -- I freaked out and he is so -- he's laughing at me now that I'm working in data journalism and the numbers because I used to refuse to work on Excel sheets with him and here I am, every day breaking them down. So, I think it's a natural tendency, especially for journalists who are creatives and you know, don't really love numbers, to freak out when you hear the word data and you know, think of the spreadsheet but when you do break it down in that simple format, like you said, something easy to digest, it actually is a dream, when you're telling, we're trying to find a story or, yeah, break some kind of undercover -- uncovering news trends.

Amanda: Yeah, when we pitch journalists, we always include bullet points with our top insights in them. So, like, these are the data points that we thought were the most interesting in our analysis and if you want to see like the whole breakdown, we'll attach all that for you but just so you know, like, this is why we're pitching you, these are the interesting things.

Laura: I hope those journalists get you a really nice Christmas present because that is an absolute dream to have someone be that helpful.

Amanda: You're right. It's like, not only do people not necessarily want to dig around in the data, but they don't always have the time, you know, and it's like, when you package it the way that you do, or you already have a story in mind and you know what's interesting about it, and you can say it, I think that goes a long way. So, Laura, you said at the top of the show that your job is basically saying the importance of data journalism, and we already talked about how it can increase your authority as a person, as a brand, what other benefits do you see it having? 

Laura: Oh, when you said authority, I straightaway thought of backlinks.

Amanda: Yes. That's my favorite one.

Laura: I know. I mean, I'm not going to talk about that, you should talk about that because that's what you talked about on the show with me, which was just amazing. But yeah, definitely backlinks, obviously, as you are well aware about that, it's all about having that authoritative kind of body publish your work or republish your work. So, you know, for instance, if you know, Semrush had new research, and everyone linked to Semrush, that's just you know, that does wonders for your site and site, kind of, not only site traffic, but like your site credibility, and I think like we mentioned before coming back to everything, why journalists are using specific data or research, it is that credibility. At the end of the day, you have to have trustworthiness and you have to have credibility to your name so, that's why things such as backlinks are really, really important. I think also just naturally just, you know, being that authority figure, so being able to be the leading, you know, kind of-- for instance, for us, it's to be that number one trusted data provider. So, if we are giving data to, you know, every single news company that we can, all around the globe, on any topic, we therefore are trying to position ourselves or on the way to position ourselves as that number one trusted data provider. So yeah, several things to definitely kind of be the authority figure and a trusted, credible, newsworthy source.

Amanda: And it compounds so much, right? Like, if you provide that information one time, and the journalist really appreciates it and values it, it's more likely that they'll even start turning to you for that information in the future.

Laura: Yeah, exactly, and that's where we want to be at. We don't, well definitely not me, as I mentioned, I'm not a fan of outreaching too much but I love it, and nothing -- I love nothing more than when a journalist comes to me, calls me and says, can you get us this please? That is just like, such an achievement for me, I'm just, job done, when someone's begging for data, anything you want I will get for you. So yeah, that's where we want to be and that's-- I'm happy when, like I said, when anyone's asking for data, and coming to us, that's just yeah, you know, you've done your job and it's a great thing to see that people are so impressed with the stats we can get that they want to obviously use them in their stories, and then, you know, build on other things, or potentially even find new trends and you know, make their own stories and make their own news headlines, which, that's yeah, we were just happy to support people. Because like I said, a lot of people do charge ridiculous amounts of money for data insights and you know, journalism is not the highest paying job so, we just need to make sure we support people who are telling us our news so, we get the right news and quality news at that.

Amanda: So, I can't let this interview end without plugging the fact that we're doing a project together, because I'm so pumped about this. 

Laura: Yes, me too. I'm actually so excited for this one.

Amanda: So, we're recording this in December, but it'll probably be live in January and we're using data so, we always see these projects at the end of every year, at the beginning of every year about what the big strategies and tactics are going to be in marketing and we decided this time, we're going to let data inform those decisions rather than kind of guessing or using our own personal experience. So, Laura and the Semrush team pulled information about what keywords are the most searched for in the marketing sphere, and also what agencies, websites, not specific agencies; we are not going to list agencies, but what types of agencies are receiving the most traffic throughout the last year. So, look out for that, I will include that link once it's live so, hopefully, when this interview goes live, it will already be live and check that out because it's another great example -- it's kind of meta, because we're talking about like marketing in the marketing sphere, which is why my job cracks me up sometimes. But any of this can be applied to anyone at any brand, as long as you are really caring about coming up with data that answers questions relevant to your audience, anybody can be doing this type of thing, just, it's a lot of work, sure, that's why agencies exist. But it's something that Laura and I both have seen work really well so, check out that project, because I'm really excited about it and work with Laura, if you have the chance, she's fantastic. I also Laura, I end every show in 2021 with a more general kind of random question about creativity and I want to ask you, where -- I know I've kind of already asked you where you get inspiration for ideas, but even in a more general sense, where do you tap into your creativity, especially after 2020, I'm like burnt out, I have no idea kind of where to tap into that part of myself anymore so, I'd love to hear your thoughts on that.

Laura: Oh, that's a tricky question, Amanda and on the spot too, I just can't think. Is this in general for like story ideas or like in anything in particular?

Amanda: Yeah, like some people have answered just in their life, you know, like, they meditate or they, you know, go for a walk like, which is, where do you like tap into, or break away from just like your day to day, you know, kind of like, automatic type of work and zoom out and think a little more creatively?

Laura: I definitely have the attention span of a puppy so, I can't meditate, even if I tried. I guess, okay, yeah, I've got a few, I've got a few, not sure. Especially just because of COVID, I feel like that's thrown a curveball for everyone so, you've definitely had to kind of work with it. But I started this thing with a friend, and I mean, I didn't start it, I'm sure it's been around for ages, but we started doing it and it's actually proven to be quite positive. But it's like walking chats so, instead of like, sitting on the phone at home, you'd actually go outside and meet for a walk and talk about, you know, personal goals, work goals, and kind of set these like realistic achievements but whilst you walk, apparently, there's been proven studies, that that really kind of cements it, I'm not sure why. But yeah, I'll have to read up on them, but it does cement, like, it makes-- it puts it in motion, basically. So, and I, that's not the first time I've heard about it either, my psychologist actually suggested that we walk around when we do our little sessions as well. So, lots of kind of, just getting this movement, like everyone has just been very, very, very pushing on the fact that you just have to kind of always have movements, even when you are working, every 30 minutes, put an alarm on, get up and jump around or kind of do some kind of body movement, small, big, whatever you want but apparently, that really gets the brain functioning.

Amanda: I have been so bad about that recently and you're absolutely right, though, whenever I do force myself to like, stop sitting at my desk working for hours, you know, and just move around, my entire -- not even just my mindset, but my mood shifts, it happens pretty quickly. So, I think that's a great answer.

Laura: It's been a funny one, though, you really like I've felt quite tested this year and I think and not like especially -- I'm assuming we're all still remote working at the moment but definitely just making it work around you a bit more as well. So, like, for instance, if it's a sunny day, I'm not going to feel guilty about going outside for a walk, because I'll have a little bit later night time then and I've had my sunshine, gone out, done a bit of exercise whilst it was a nice day, well and knowing that I will get my work done tonight, finish it by the end of the day. So yeah, no need to be hard on yourself as you know, a remote worker, working from home.

Amanda: Yeah, that can be really tough. So Laura, knowing the objective of the show is to help content marketers, who would you recommend to be guests on future episodes?

Laura: Okay. Well, this is a good one, Amanda, I've got such a long list.

Amanda: That's exciting for me.

Laura: I had a really, really good chat, and I'm happy to put you in contact with them, awesome, awesome content creator from MuckRack and I love whatMuckRack are doing, you know, really awesome for journalists and media professionals and stuff like that so, it'd be a great contact for you as well. But, yeah, he basically kind of monitors all research, he does all the writing, kind of puts together surveys for journalists and PR pros atMuckRack and, yeah, that was just a really, really cool chat I had and they have some really, really cool stuff that they're working on at the company, and Greg's the CEO, Greg's an amazing, amazing character in himself so, like the whole team at MuckRack, just a really cool. So, I'm a big fan of them and I've had some good chats when I was on the marketing script with them. Who else is really interesting? I've got another contact that I'm just in awe of, I work really closely with him. He's got his own SEO company so, his name is Harry Sanders from Australia, he's 22 and has just the coolest story, like one of the youngest, you know, successful CEOs that I've ever met in my lifetime and yeah, he's got a really awesome story. He was homeless when he was a teenager and now he's built this awesome, pretty much his own little empire of SEO in Australia. 

Amanda: Wow. That's incredible. 

Laura: And he's just, yeah, he's so passionate, very driven and just is -- has been doing it since he was 14, he has been doing SEO as a child and just had such a talent for it and is just so good when it comes to like spot on content and making you know, his brand be of like the big players you know, in the little game, pretty much. But, yeah, he's like, you know, awesome in terms of making everything he does very genuine and like literally the authority of kind of players in SEO. So, Harry Sanders from StudioHawk, he's really awesome and has a cool story.

Laura: Awesome. Well, thank you. I always ask this question because I love meeting people through others who I never would have met otherwise.

Laura: I'll definitely, we'll have to do a bit of a list sharing. There's so many people that I spoke to that are really interesting but yeah, I think that personal story stuck out to me the most with Harry and then just what they do at MuckRack, I'm a big, big fan so they always stuck out to me, too.

Amanda: Yeah, absolutely. So, if you've listened to this episode, and you have interest in data journalism, please reach out to either of us. This is, like I said, this is a topic that I love as well. Laura, how can people reach you?

Laura: Yeah, please do reach me at l.morelli@semrush.com, you can, you know, look me up on Twitter, LinkedIn, yeah, I'm pretty much there, the host of The Marketing Scoop, f anyone was a fan of that, I did that so, you can find me and please do reach out and please do send me your data requests because we want to help.

Amanda: Yes, absolutely, and if you have questions, more in depth questions about getting buy in for this type of work, we've already talked about some of those major benefits, which are just building your brand authority, building amazing backlinks, you couldn't get otherwise, getting your brand awareness out there but if you're still having trouble getting buy in from leadership, or your peers, or what have you, definitely reach out, I'm happy to answer any of those types of questions because on the agency side, we've worked with with points of contact who have had to face this, and we've helped them out. So, please feel free to email if you have questions on that. But, Laura, thank you so much for taking the time to be on the show and sharing your perspective, I really appreciate it. 

Laura: Oh, my absolute pleasure, hopefully, it helps.

Amanda: Oh, of course it did, it was great. If you've listened to this and want even more tips, sign up for our podcast newsletter by going to the podcast page on the Fractl website and if you've learned anything from this show, we'd love it if you'd subscribe on your favorite podcast platform and leave a review. Also, I apologize for this noise in the background, somebody outside us decided to saw something, I don't know.

Laura: It's just so organic and natural, you can tell you're at home.

Amanda: Right? 

Laura: And can I also quickly just mention that, for all that data insights, they are free for all media professionals.

Amanda: Oh, great point to mention. Yes. Like I said, reach out to Laura, we've done projects with Semrush data, it's really awesome. Finally, if you have any feedback, suggestions, bullet journaling tips, mental health mantras, cheap date night ideas, or anything you'd like to share with me, shoot me an email at amanda@frac.tl. I'm a shameless extrovert, who would love to hear from you. Thank you to Sean Kelly for podcast music and editing and Joao Pereyra for the logo design and thank you, dear listener, I hope you'll join us next time.

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