There are many, many different types of research. They vary not only in aim, but in how they are performed. At 4media, we do Public Relations Surveys among other things. Those surveys are intended for use in public relations outreach and initiatives and can be both quantitative and qualitative.
Other types of research are academic, or consumer insight driven. We do those too, but we recognize where and how they differ from the sort of research that generates an excellent news headline. In the grand scheme of research, many professionals are what you can call process driven. They operate, as they ought to, under strict standards that are guaranteed to create an academic sort of research. They consider a whole host of extremely specific things, and discuss reliability and validity in terms of coefficients and guys named Cronbach and types of probability samplings--all important information, to be sure. Though it can be discussed, and often understood too, in much simpler terms.
There is a bit of a difference in the type of research required to complete an excellent PR survey and the type of research required to create a doctoral dissertation. Please hear me here: I am not advocating for poor research methods, nor am I suggesting that all researchers ought not adhere to strict standards that ensure valid results that can be generalized. We care deeply about accuracy at 4media—but we are also realists.
In a recent project, we encountered a team of hyper-academic researchers, who would be incredibly well prepared for the creation of a doctoral dissertation--but whose attention to every word and its possible interpretation in each question left our survey so sanitized that no answers could create a truly great headline.
So how can PR’s and marketers keep the minutiae from muting otherwise wonderful results? That answer lies in creative autonomy, and in early consistent communication with clients who need to know what to expect.
One of the reasons we always hold 'kickoff calls' with clients is to brief them on our creative processes. Everyone does things differently, and we think it's important that clients know what to expect when working with our research team.
The first step there is explaining that our research is created with the idea of driving news hooks--bite-sized, mediagenic tidbits of awesome information. Information that's statistically valid, driven by real research methods, and can be generalized across a population--but is also interesting, hopefully clever, and definitely on brand.
This kind of communication is so key because it provides a client with realistic expectations and an idea of what they'll be getting: Teamwork, real research, and results that are sure to drive interest.
If you came here to see how you could make the best possible survey, then be certain you’re clear with your client. It’s of paramount importance that they understand where the line lies in creating great public relations results, while performing research that can stand on its own as valid, representative and overall worth sharing.
Want a way to open that door? Be our client. We can open it for you.
TJ Stallbaumer is 4media Group's Account Coordinator in Media and Research, where he focuses on delivering meaningful, click-worthy and research-driven content for clients and their brands. TJ worked in television news, where he was an online content editor and social media manager in a top-100 media market. TJ also spent time as a freelance longform journalist, and has had pieces featured in publications across Northwest Arkansas ranging in scope from 'social media's subliminal priming in political discussions' to a series detailing the area's best motorcycle roads. TJ has a master's degree in journalism from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, and is an NWA native living in Rogers.