As the scope of public relations work expands and evolves, so do the roles and capabilities of those working within the field. At Powell Tate, Kristine Fitton has the unique role of helping to guide this evolution. With her business strategy and marketing expertise, Kristine joined the team as Executive Vice President of Planning, spearheading qualitative research and data analysis to better inform audience engagement strategies across practice areas.
In recent years, the public relations industry has come to value the importance of quantitative, “hard” data and analytics. But Kristine knows that quantitative data doesn’t always tell the whole story.
“Data analytics can tell you what people are doing,” she said, “but sometimes you have to extrapolate the ‘why’ from qualitative research.”
She believes that qualitative, “soft” data is an equally essential component of successful campaign planning because it helps explain the audience and how their motivations connect to actions. To gather qualitative insights and to “connect the dots,” as Kristine puts it, between motivations and actions, she spends much of her time on one-on-one interviews, studying media consumption habits of target audiences, and working with analytics experts to get smarter about clients, industry, and customers.
From Kristine’s early-career work experiences at both an ad agency and a management consulting firm, she came to realize a passion for work that married the creative aspect of advertising with the strategic element of consulting. Thus landing her at Powell Tate, where the perfect opportunity for Kristine to apply her expertise emerged from our agency’s expansion of capabilities beyond its traditional functions and its commitment to using data to drive strategy.
Kristine’s work is interdisciplinary at its core, as she applies the principles of psychology to every element of her strategic communications work. During our chat, I discovered that we share a fascination for how consumer behavior drives business and influences markets. Coincidentally, we share an undergraduate degree in economics, which, despite its misconception of being a strictly quantitative field, is built on the study of human decision-making. The question of why people behave the way they do — often irrationally — is central to the study of behavioral economics, and fuels the qualitative research that Kristine utilizes for campaign strategy.
Although strategy has always been one of the agency’s pillars, it is now more important than ever as access to data, and different types of data, continues to expand. Powell Tate’s commitment to infusing strategic thinking into every aspect of its work, coupled with the Value Based Community model’s emphasis on insightful intelligence, highlights the importance of Kristine’s role and the likelihood of this practice area to expand further. For me — a behavioral economics nerd and qualitative data enthusiast — the opportunity to bring these insights to my future strategic communications work is couldn’t be more exciting.