Brands reach audiences through any number of methods including publicity, advertising, social media, in-store experiences, contests, and so on. But there is only one way to generate content for all the above: market research.
Whether for market insights or storytelling purposes, research has become a must have/must do service for all PR Agencies and consumer brands. Telling stories helps drive the consumer-brand relationship.
Here are eight tips to help ensure your market research PR survey produces headlines you can use:
8 Tips for Creating PR Surveys
- Identify your audience. It’s important that your research is conducted with the right people (sample) since this can significantly impact the findings. Speak to the people that matter most to your business and consume the products and services you offer. Otherwise, you risk getting information that isn’t relevant and therefore useless.
- Engage the appropriate large sample. For any study to be a true representative, and for the story to be reliable, it needs to survey a sufficient number of respondents. There is no maximum limit, but many media outlets consider a 1,000 or 2,000 respondent sample to be most reliable. If you opt for 5,000 or 10,000, your accuracy will increase and your story will enhance its credibility.
- Quality over quantity. Yes, we did just say the more the merrier, however, identifying your proper audience is paramount. You can get better results with a 1,000 respondent survey that is a national representative (mirrors the national demographic %) than you would with a 3,000 general population survey. The aim of any research is to be as applicable as possible to the population for which it was conducted (Example: The US has a different population demographic than Canada and as such the same survey run in Canada would have a different number of female respondents than it will have in The US – but both would be national representative for that population.)
- Be the respondent. Before asking the questions to your respondents, ask them to yourself. If they make sense and you can understand them, so will your respondents. A common mistake surveyors often make is asking questions that are not relatable to their audience and then causing confusion or a bias.
- Treat the questionnaire like a play.
Just like in any good play, your research must have a plot. It must start with knowing your audience (warming them up), defining your groups (who’s the happy client, the frustrated client, the indifferent client), building momentum (don’t give away the purpose of the research – don’t ask questions that imply the client or scope of the project), and have an ending (wrap up with light-weighted, positive questions.) Any information that can identify the purpose of the study/end client can and should be displayed at the end.
- Get quirky: Any research can generate content, but not any content can generate interest. Always have a couple of crazy-silly options in your choice of answers. It’s always a good idea to have the right balance of insight vs. entertainment because most of the storytelling surveys are used for the story they create.
- Focus more on the answers than the questions: Asking the right questions is obviously important but it’s equally important to provide the right choice of answers. Content is written based on the answers and a story is generated as such. It’s futile to ask a great question but offer a poor choice of answers. This is why quirky answers create fun interesting content.
- Be fair with your data: Analyze your responses and make sure you don’t exaggerate or misuse the findings. The idea is to create, not to invent the story.
Connecting the Dots:
Public relations and communications professionals conducting media outreach efforts on their clients’ behalf often use market research PR surveys because the sample population of 2,000 or more adults is viewed as highly credible and often considered the "gold standard" by journalists. Using the perfect headline resulting from the research can drive the topic and increase earned interviews for Satellite Media Tours.
Tim Furdui - Senior Research Analyst
Tim focuses on the quantitative services of 4media Group, overseeing successful delivery of all projects, clients varying from Microsoft, Heinz, Oral-B and Timberland. His specialty areas include panel management, online communities (both creating and fostering), survey, conjoint, max-diff, data analysis, SPSS, moderation, online focus groups, semiotics and ethnographic. Before joining Atomik Research, Tim worked as Community Manager and Researcher for companies including Cision, Allegra Strategies and Channel 4.