Making a PR research project work for you
Media pitches always need a news hook, and vendor-led research is becoming an increasingly common tool to reel journalists in. Whether it’s within cybersecurity or telecommunications, owned statistics can be a key way to secure media coverage. Here, we’ll explore the purpose of running a research campaign and how it’s done.
As PRs, one of our goals is to establish our clients and their spokespeople as industry thought leaders, able to influence discussion and provide unique points of view on the issues keeping decision-makers up at night. While we commonly do this with commentary, journalist briefings and bylined articles, it can be useful to have qualified statistics to support their ideas and the business’ agenda, as well as helping to grab journalists’ attention with a unique story.
As well as supporting PR activity, a research project can form the basis of an entire integrated marketing campaign. With a gated landing page, blog content and written report, a single research campaign can feed into PR, lead gen, social media and wider marketing activities, with results possibly able to form the basis of a webinar or virtual event.
Before you start…
It is likely that a research project will involve many stakeholders, with a market research partner, client marketing team and subject matter experts working alongside the PR team to pull the project together. To avoid the cliché of too many cooks spoiling the broth, it’s important to have a clear idea of what you want to achieve from the beginning, before developing the survey questions. An important tactic here is to envision your perfect press release headline and develop questions that, dependent on the results received, will bring it to life.
As well as this, the scope of the research and the target respondents should be considered before the project kicks off. If the respondents are only from the UK, it can be difficult to pitch to US-based journalists and vice versa. However, while covering additional regions and turning it into a global project can add weight to the research, this will also increase the cost and time needed for data collection. Finally, depending on the subject of the research it can make sense to target either C-suite decision-makers, technical employees with their ear to the ground, or even the end user. This should be discussed when planning the project, and changes based on the subject of the research and what you’re hoping to achieve. For example, while more senior respondents may carry more weight – and are likely to be more suited to a business-led story – technical staff can hold more weight and relevance when the questions relate to certain developments or specific areas of technology.
While they can provide valuable results, research projects can be time and resource intensive. It’s therefore important to keep a constant channel of communication running between all parties involved to ensure the smooth running of the survey development and data collection stages. If the right questions are asked to the right people, interpreting the data and developing the associated content will be much easier.
Presenting and pitching
As mentioned, when your results have been collected there are a number of ways the data can be presented and leveraged within PR. This will likely take the form of a press release to announce the results and a written report detailing the findings. However, it can be expanded to include an infographic that can be used by journalists or on social media, a blog for the client’s website, and a landing page to host a gated version of the report and other related content the client has to offer, such as how their products relate to the subject or findings.
As an example of what research can achieve, our client Acquia, a leading customer experience company, asked us to commission research into the controversial issue of third-party consumer data sharing earlier this year, to understand the impact of likely changes this will have on marketing in the future. Our research, which polled 500 marketing professionals, not only found some surprising results, which we were able to contribute to the ongoing media discussion, but we were also able to position Acquia as a thought leader on this controversial topic. The weight of the findings helped us secure tier one coverage with Campaign, Verdict, BBC News and BBC Tech Tent among others.
If you would like to learn more about how we can deliver research that can meet your company’s needs, please get in touch.