They all use statistics … in the media, in politics, in sports. But they mostly forget that statistics, especially official statistics, are made by professionals in a quite demanding, time- and resource-consuming process. The WO/MAN-IN-THE-MIDDLE, the professionals, providing information and knowledge from facts remain hidden (despite Googles’ statement that statistician will be ‘the sexy job in the next ten years‘)
Source: 'Statistics – A universal language', Swiss Statistics, Neuchâtel
How to promote the statisticians’ work?
This question is a perennial topic in the statistics community. And the answers are manifold. Some examples:
Show the results!
Dissemination of statistics is widely developed and of high quality. Websites of statistical institutions present rich information – from simple facts to interactive presentations and visualisations.
New media play its role, too. And they are important. Feeds and tweets are omnipresent (-> Some examples of official statistical tweets).
See Statistics Netherlands’ experience: ‘In addition to the normal distribution of news reports, Twitter has become a standard way for Statistics Netherlands to distribute day-to-day information. The number of followers of @statistiekcbs grew from 14,000 in early 2014 to almost 56,000 by the end of the year. In December, Statistics Netherlands’ tweets were viewed a total of 3.6 million times which represents an average of almost 120,000 per day. In the final months of 2014, news reports were being retweeted on an average of 100 times a day. `(Statistics Netherlands Annual Report for 2014, p.9)
Yes, ok … but the professionals behind these presentations are not visible. Even as brilliant presenters as Hans Rosling let us forget how the facts for his beautiful visualisations were prepared.
Selfies of statistical institutions are standard on their websites. These presentations are short and normally without a marketing touch.
There are some examples, where a self-portrait gets an own website and presents more than static information about the institution. The European Statistical System (ESS) publishes a website serving as a ‘single entry point to relevant information on the organization and activities of the ESS’ and its partner organizations. An RSS feed provides updates and readers can follow the work of more than 30 statistical institutions … so long as they provide their news to the website.
Launching a campaign is another way to attract attention. This is mostly chosen for periodical Census. So for instance in the US, Germany or the UK. There are also mini-campaigns. ‘Statistics counts for you’ is such an example.
Clicking on the animated teaser in the homepage opens a new website with the message and a summary of available statistics. There’s no offer to communicate with the reader via news-tweets or newsletters.
And finally there are also examples of more interactive and user-oriented approaches.
CBS Corporate News
is a specific website ( http://corporate.cbs.nl ) and a beautiful presentation of Statistics Netherlands, showing activities and achievements in six fields by choosing the relevant filters (like projects, events&congresses, new services, innovative developments, user relations and international affairs). It’s attractive, personal, interactive and provides updates via a newsletter.
is an interactive, multimedia presentation of Statistics Switzerland’s activities and products.
Five filters for topics (Personalities, Publications, Swiss History and Statistics, Achievements and Methods) and filters for years back to the beginnings of Statistics Switzerland in 1860 let readers follow multiple aspects of Statistics. With this timeline it provides an archive.
The be-all and end-all of statistical self-portraying are updating. Updated information presents an active institution and maintains the contact with users and interested groups. It fosters understanding for the work behind the statistical information and prevents from cutting necessary resources.