Digital marketing briefing explores storytelling through data


L-R: Hugh Jones (Sytorus), Tara Grehan (Datalytics), Colleen Savage (Savage Research) and Alan McCarthy (Standard Life)

27 June 2014: Some of the key ways that stories can be told with data were explored during the first of this summer’s breakfast briefings organised by DIT School of Marketing and the Marketing Institute of Ireland.

The Storytelling through Data session was organised by the team behind the MSc in Digital Marketing and Analytics, which will soon enter into its second year.

The course is delivered by leading marketing academics and digital marketing practitioners, working closely together to ensure an effective blend of theory and practice. It’s designed for marketing professionals who are seeking to build their digital marketing knowledge and skills. Participants further develop their ability to design, implement and measure the effectiveness of marketing strategies - full information is available at

The panel discussed ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ of using data to tell stories to an audience. Tara Grehan, Managing Director at Datalytics, moderated the panel of three speakers and spoke on ‘The Ugly’ side of data.

She shared her own experience of moving from the more qualitative side of research to the quantitative and how she has got to grips with big data.

She also talked about some of the key visualisation tools for telling a story with the data that you have, including some tools from Excel, infographics and one of her favourites – the reliable Venn diagram!

Alan McCarthy from Standard Life gave his take on ‘The Good’ – how picking the right analytics and really thinking about the key data you want to capture can lead to a very real difference in your sales performance.

Hugh Jones of Sytorus spoke on ‘The Bad’ side of data – what happens when things go wrong and there is a data protection breach.


L-R: Hugh Jones (Sytorus), Etain Kidney (DIT), Tara Grehan (Datalytics), Colleen Savage (Savage Research), Alan McCarthy (Standard Life), Kate Ui Ghallachoir (DIT) and Tom Trainor (MII)

He said the single biggest cost of a data breach for companies is their brand positioning and they have to work hard to regain the trust of consumers. He said that even though data protection breaches are often down to human error, no-one ever knows the name of the person who caused the issue – it’s the brand that is instantly affected.

He also spoke on how there is sometimes an impulse on the part of companies to gather as much data as possible, without really thinking through if they need that information in the first place.

Colleen Savage of Savage Research spoke on the natural skills that we have to tell stories and gave her top tips on how to tell a really good story.

These included thinking through to the end of the story before you begin, really understanding your audience and what motivates them, taking some time away with the data to work out what story you want to tell and figuring out your storytelling style, as that’s what’s going to help you deliver data in presentations, meetings or documents.

After the panel concluded, a Q&A session brought up some interesting topics including which Irish companies are doing a good job with data, remarketing and data protection and how to integrate the data focused and creative focused sides of marketing.

The next digital marketing breakfast briefing takes place on Wednesday 16 July and is now open for registrations.

It will cover Future Trends for 2015 and explain how to ‘Innovate Your Way to Greater Profits’. Meabh Quoirin from The Future Foundation will explore the five biggest trends that marketers should expect next year.

The event will also give attendees the chance to meet lecturers and current students from the Msc in Digital Marketing and Analytics.

To book your spot, visit or email

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