Research builds media relations in times of rapid change
The news agenda is in sharp focus during the COVID-19 pandemic. Culture secretary Oliver Dowden even described the media as a “fourth emergency service,” providing access to quality information at a time of uncertainty.
The ever-changing nature of the COVID-19 situation highlights the importance of up-to-date, reliable data on which to base news stories, with journalists actively looking for factual information to support articles and provide real-world context. The latest Reuters Digital News Report indicates the crisis has “reinforced the need for reliable, accurate journalism.”
As B2B technology PR experts, we take our responsibility to work with the media and provide timely and relevant information on behalf of our clients very seriously, and that’s where research can help. The ability to lean on data-rich insights and supply journalists with robust and relevant information will allow a company spokesperson to be elevated from part-time commentator to trusted expert, ultimately raising the profile of that company.
Of course research isn’t solely about media relations. Insight is also vital for strategy planning, especially during a time of rapid change and recalibration where businesses may need to pivot to offer revised products or services. Business intelligence enables organisations to stay up-to-date with quickly changing customer needs and behaviours, and to adjust plans as necessary. By undertaking research into what their customers want and need right now, businesses can ensure their products and services are optimised for these exceptional times, as well as generating valuable insights for media coverage. Both these aspects of research will place their business in a strong position for the recovery bounce.
The interconnected digital world makes it is easier than ever to access audiences and conduct research on a global scale, both on a B2C or B2B level. And today’s PR agencies should be well placed to develop and oversee research projects on behalf of clients, assisting with everything from survey design to data analysis. Here are four top tips for anyone considering research to support media campaigns and inform strategy:
1. Ensure research is timely
Research needs to be deployed into the field, analysed, and pitched to media publications as quickly as possible to ensure the data is representative and the insights are relevant in an evolving situation. Omnibus research – a quick quantitative approach – can return insights within a matter of hours if needed. Ideally surveys should combine questions about the current situation with some forward looking predictions-style questions that ask participants what they are expecting or planning over the next 12 months. This approach gives the resulting insights a longer shelf life and could provide opportunities for a second wave of coverage at a later date.
2. Gauge interest ahead of time
If possible, businesses or their PR representatives should check research ideas with friendly media contacts ahead of time to make sure the questions hit specific areas journalists are interested in. They should also explore research recently published by competitors or other companies to ensure novelty and originality. Surveys should combine questions that allow multiple responses with those that have simple yes/no answers for the greatest chance of generating attention grabbing results. While ensuring research is designed to deliver newsworthy insights is important, business must also be sure not to lose sight of any key strategic objectives the research is designed to meet.
3. Achieve sufficient scale
Research sample sizes should be considered to make certain research is robust and representative of the relevant industry or consumer demographic. For a multi-region, representative consumer survey, businesses should be looking at between 1,000 and 2,000 respondents per country. For a B2B survey, sample size will depend on how niche the industry sector or specific job title is. If research is conducted among multiple groups, ensure there is sufficient representation of each. For instance a survey of media buyers may require adequate representation of both brand and agency advertisers.
4. Maximise output creatively
Once research and data analysis are complete, think about how the resulting insights can best be presented, both internally to inform strategy and externally in the media. Using the data to compile a whitepaper is a good starting point, but this can be combined with press releases, infographics, thought leadership articles and blog posts for broader appeal. Research results can also be used as the basis for a webinar or a speaker slot at an industry event, giving presenters something unique to discuss. There are many different ways a PR agency can leverage research insights to ensure a good return on investment.
To find out more about the research-led PR services GingerMay can offer your business during this time of rapid change, please contact us at email@example.com