Chapter 5: Research

Research is an important part in planning, program development, and evaluation process in public realtions.  PR firms spend about 3-5% of their budget on research, but experts believe firms should spend closer to 10%.

PR pros use research in a number of ways.  They use research to achieve credibility with management, to test messages, to prevent crises, to sway public opinion, and to generate publicity, just to name a few.

There are 3 broad approaches to research:

  1. Secondary research:  This includes archival research, library and online databases, and the Internet.
  2. Qualitative research:  This is “soft” data, usually open ended questions, valid but not reliable, and exploratory in nature.
  3. Quantitative research:  This is “hard” data, requires close ended questions, valid and reliable, and uses random samples

Examples of Qualitative Research:

  • Content analysis: This is the systematic & objective counting of information.
  • Interviews: An intercept interview which is when a PR firm conducts the interview in a public place.  The problem is that it is unreliable.  In depth interviews are a PR firms best approach.
  • Focus groups:  This helps identify attitudes and motivations of important publics.  It also lets the firm test out the message before launching the entire campaign.

PR firms must put a great amount of effort into their surveys to receive accurate responses.  They must:

  • Carefully consider wording
  • Avoid loaded questions
  • Consider timing and context
  • Avoid the politically correct answer
  • Give a range of possible answers

PR firms can reach the people they are surveying through mail questionaires, telephone surveys, personal interviews, omnibus surveys, and Web and e-mail surveys.

This information was taken from the book  Public Relations Strategies and Tactics, Ninth Edition by Dennis L. Wilcox and Glen T. Cameron.

Published in: on April 21, 2009 at 7:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

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