CREATING A STORY OUT OF NUMBERS
Jasmine Pastakia, digital specialist at bp, describes how, with a bit of creativity, even the most jargon-heavy data report can be turned into compelling content that engages and inspires its audience.
How do you create a story out of data? How do you tell a story that is compelling, sparks interest and, ultimately, demonstrates your organisation as a trusted voice and subject expert?
At bp, this is a question we ask ourselves regularly: how do we position ourselves as a credible voice, while also sharing data in an interesting and compelling way? Through storytelling – through using data to form a narrative that is easy for everyone to understand while also remaining interesting.
To achieve this, it is important first to understand who your audience is and take inspiration from there. A company website’s audience will range from stakeholders and interested parties to those who do not support the company and its beliefs. Knowing your most active audience helps to direct your thinking towards what they want to see and hear.
Let me share an example. Every year, bp releases its Statistical Review of World Energy, a major report full of data that informs investors on the future of the energy transition. The report is released in conjunction with a global webcast hosted by bp’s head economist, Spencer Dale. The report and webcast are primarily for our economics audience; however, we know that we also have those outside this group who are interested in bp and what it has to say. 2021 marked bp’s 70th year of reporting the Statistical Review of World Energy. This presented us, bp’s magazine, Reimagining Energy, with the opportunity to tell a story and really make the report stand out.
The 2021 report was a particularly pivotal moment, not only from a longevity point of view, but the review itself included the effects of COVID-19 pandemic had had on world energy consumption. There is no doubt that COVID-19 had a massive impact on the global economy – and with energy demand so closely linked to human activity, this sector was one of the hardest hit by the effects of the pandemic. It was a shock to the energy system and inspired us to explore the biggest shocks to the energy system over the past 70 years – from the 1956 Suez Crisis to the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. Through this exploration, the magazine article was able to explain the shock, cause, and effect of each major event.
The explanation of the five biggest shocks to the energy system was achieved through a timeline – starting with the first shock in 1956 and ending with the last in 2011. By using a simple infographic, we were able to chart through time in a digestible way. The graphic also built up to the present day and, knowing that COVID-19 was the next big shock, we were able to entice audiences to read the report and sign up for the webcast.
So, by using 70 years of reporting as a starting line, the team was able to creatively use the data to form a narrative while positioning bp as an expert in the field and leaving enough interest for the reader to open the report or watch the webcast.