Sunday, 21 October 2012

Research Techniques used in PR Campaign and Its Role

 Have you done your research?

Public relations research provides the groundwork for almost everything PR practitioners do including identifying key publics, addressing issues, devleoping strategy, and measuring results.

A great PR campaign starts with R.A.C.E. which stands for Research, Action, Communicate, and Evaluate. Research is the critical first step and the nucleus to a successful PR Campaign and every PR activity. It is the beginning of a process that seeks to bring about a specific objective.

There are really only two types of research methods that are categorized into two groups, secondary or primary. Secondary research is often referred to as desk research that involves using existing information from already published sources in books, electronic data bases, papers, journals, libraries etc. Primary research is new and original information gathered first hand through questionnaires, interviews, telephone interviews, focus groups, blogs, and polls.  

In addition to categorizing we can distinguish between qualitative and quantitative research. Qualitative research is often referred to as soft data and quantitative research is known as hard data.

Qualitative Data
Quantitative Data
  • “Soft” data
  • Open-ended questions
  • Deals with descriptions.
  • Unstructured
  • Data can be observed but not measured.
  • Colors, textures, smells, tastes, appearance, beauty, etc.
  • Rarely representative of larger audience
  • Qualitative → Quality
Examples: focus groups, in depth interviews, observations, participation, role playing, convenience pole
  • “Hard” data
  • Close-ended questions
  • Deals with numbers.
  • Highly structured
  • Data which can be measured.
  • Length, height, area, volume, weight, speed, time, temperature, humidity, sound levels, cost, members, ages, etc.
  • Usually representative of larger audience
  • Quantitative → Quantity
Examples: telephone polls, mail surveys, face-to-face interviews, panel studies, questionnaires

Using these research techniques will determine your target market which will be your publics and stakeholders who are pertinent to your campaign. You will also find out their attitudes and beliefs and this will allow you to tailor your message appropriately and communicate in a way your audience can understand and appreciate. As a PR professional we must become fully aware of everything both externally or internally and this in turn will help formulate a strategic public relations plan.

In conclusion, engaging in key research techniques will essentially enable the PR professional to accomplish the following:

  • Achieve credibility with management 
  • Define Audiences and segmenting publics 
  • Formulate strategy 
  • Test messages
  • Prevent crisis
  • Monitor competition
  • Measure success
It is so important to understand what research can do for organizations and how practitioners can use it to reach their goals. It is the first step in creating a very successful PR Campaign and the ability to conduct research can benefit the campaign and the PR practitioner’s career so it's crucial to stay in the R.A.C.E!  


  3. Public Relations Research in the Real World of Business, By Laurel English, ABC, Principal, English Communications – Internet - pdf file
  4. Wilcox, Cameron, Reber, Shin (2013) - Think Public Relations
  5. relations research

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