Andi Mahoney, FPRA Northwest Florida Coast Chapter President-Elect
The words “marketing research” may sound dull; however marketing research can be interesting and engaging and greatly enhance your PR strategy. Whether you are working on new product development, brand image and positioning, customer satisfaction or crisis management, it’s important to understand who your target audience should be, what message will be most effective, and who should be communicating it.
As we are forced to communicate faster and faster, particularly with the growing reach and importance of social media, marketing research should be at the cornerstone of our public relations campaigns, providing the insights needed to develop informed communications strategies.
Kyrce Culbertson, Director of Quantitative Services at Majority Opinion Research in Atlanta, GA, shared some insights with the Northwest Florida Coast Chapter on how research can, and should, enhance any PR strategy.
Culbertson shared that research should be used to shed light on the reality of a situation. For example, research is the first step to determine if there is an issue in the public’s mind. Once you’ve assessed the situation, research can then be used to determine the messages to develop and the appropriate sources for reaching an intended audience.
Culberson noted some common mistakes made in marketing research:
- There is a non-representative population sample used
- The questions are biased, or the order they are presented in is biased
- The data is not interpreted correctly
- Nuances in the data are overlooked
In order to do it right, Culberson recommend the following:
- Define what you want to learn from the research
- Plan how you will use the results
- Determine who your target audience is
- Determine how to reach your audience
- Execute the research
- Analyze and report the findings
It is impossible to determine the success of a PR campaign without first developing a benchmark. Research gives PR professionals the insights they need to quantify, measure and track a campaign’s success.