By: Joe Luhning
When most people think of research, they do not generally think of the topic as exciting or interesting. Most people might associate research with writing papers for class or simply searching the internet for the answer to their particular problem. However, most people are ignoring the core aspect of research. Research allows us to understand the bigger picture and develop a concrete understanding of the issue at hand.
Public relations research is an integral part of developing a public relations campaign. According to the book “A Practitioners Guide to Public Relations Research, Measurement and Evaluation,” research is defined as “the systematic effort before or during and/or after a communication activity aimed at discovering and collecting the facts or opinions pertaining to an identified issue, need, or question.” In a profession where public opinion means a great deal, research is incredibly important in understanding and influencing public opinion, so following a guideline can be helpful.
In the first stages of secondary research, gathering a broad understanding of the organization as a whole is important. An organization with a wide range of resources on its website makes this process much easier. Easily accessible information is crucial in making sure an organization and message are reaching the target audience. Special Olympics Louisiana has a wide variety of information on its website.
In working with Capital Area Special Olympics, Empower PR has developed a simple online survey in order to gauge the public’s awareness, perceptions and actions regarding the nonprofit. Rather than conduct focus groups or interviews, the group conducted a survey because it is a cost effective solution to the often expensive primary research process. In CASOL’s case, cost effective solutions are important because the more money it saves, the more money the organization has to spend on services for the intellectually disabled.
One of the most important aspects of good research is that is provides objective, unbiased information. Numbers do not lie. In a business relying so much on how people think and feel, concrete figures describing the public’s feelings and actions are invaluable in reaching them with a targeted message.
In the most recent season of Netflix’s political drama “House of Cards” (don’t worry, no spoilers), a major plot point is the use of big data to target potential voters. This plot point serves to demonstrate how valuable strong data can be in targeting and influencing particular groups of people. While not all research and data collection may be interesting enough to include in a political drama with Kevin Spacey, it is important in developing an understanding of the world around us and creating solutions to our problems.
Connect with Empower Public Relation’s Research Director, Joseph Luhning.