Market Research Insights: 8 Tips for Creating PR Surveys

Survey says…

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 surveys produce headlines you can use:

8 Tips for Creating PR Surveys

  1. 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.PR Survey
  2. 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.
  3. 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.)
  4. 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.
  5. Treat the questionnaire like a play.Surveys.jpegJust 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.

SATELLITE MEDIA TOUR INSIGHTS: TOP TIER MEDIA & FACEBOOK LIVETrackers, Brand Tracking Surveys or Usage & Attitude Surveys are synonymous and intended to measure changes in consumer behavior related to brand, product or service over a period of time. They are also known as waves, as like a wave, they run repeatedly every X months or years, generally using the same questions and metrics. Brand Tracking Research differs from the normal consumer survey as it relies on metric measurement and changes in measurement from wave to wave. Tracking Survey.jpg Before you run a wave or tracker, it is important you have a clear segment and agreed brand positioning in mind; it must be clear why you intend to measure and how it will be measured. The research agency undertaking the fieldwork can help you establish HOW to do this, however it is your task as the client to determine WHY you are running a tracker. Frequency of the tracker is also important. You don’t want to run recurrently as saturation can result. Comparatively, you don’t want to measure too sporadically. Generally, you want to match them with launching, changing or testing new advertisements, products or services. You want to ensure you get data back in time for your company strategy meeting. Global brands will run trackers every month, big brands once a quarter, medium brands twice a year and smaller, yearly. The logic: unless your brand is omnipresent, it will be difficult to find a qualifying sample for monthly or quarterly studies. It is also unlikely that attitudes and usage would change quickly enough. An ubiquitous brand can experience changes in U&A fairly often with additional factors and exposure that can lead to such variations, so they monitor more often. It is advisable that smaller brands run trackers yearly or twice a year at most. With a smaller consumer pool to reach, constructing a decent size fresh sample proves difficult. As such, repeat sample may need to be used. In this case, respondents must be given adequate time before being re-invited to a tracker to ensure objective metric measurement, without previous wave bias. This is called an exclusion period. Now we ask ourselves: do we use fresh sample for each wave or use repeat sample? The answer is never straight forward. Tracker studies must be conducted with a sample that is brand aware, otherwise it would not be possible to measure changes of attitudes (i.e.: if X has never heard of XYZ brand, X won’t be able to measure/rank brand attributes). For well-known brands, it is easy to secure fresh samples, but for smaller ones, it’s often a challenge. This means samples must be re-used. Allowing enough time between trackers ensures answers are not affected by previous waves. Reasons for using fresh samples each tracker include avoiding bias, over-exposure, fatigue and subjectivity in relation to the answers. It also means there cannot be a true correlation in metric variations. A true correlation within a time interval should be measured against equal subjects, minimizing respondent dependent variations (i.e.: asking the same question each year for 10 years to the same person vs asking the same question each year to different people). Surveys.jpg The middle way uses a split sample of 50% fresh and 50% re-used and creates further correlations between U&A changes. However, this is not always an affordable luxury. To measure trackers the correct way, it’s important you are always using rating and ranking scales. For more in-depth insight, card-slot style questions are recommended. To avoid subjectivity and misread questions, the tracker would consist of rated questions with a clearly balanced scale. Rank questions are also used to define stratification and importance of a group. Card slots are hybrid questions where respondents assign a series of attributes to specific products and are more complex than MaxDiff and Conjoint studies. MaxDiff are used to obtain importance (or preference) scores for different items; also known as best-worst scale. Conjoint, similar to MaxDiff, select a group of attributes but don't need to be opposite each other and can be similar. Ultimately, trackers or wave studies, are cost effective quantitative research options to measure usage and attitudes. They provide insightful business analytics, allow consumer trend understanding, rectify mal-intended business solutions and generate lucrative material for marketing, R&D and advertising departments. Wondering if it's time for your brand to conduct a tracking survey?