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How businesses can harness research to power smarter PR


Victoria Usher

Published On:

October 7, 2020

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How businesses can harness research to power smarter PR

Generating the latest industry data offers more than just increased agility. While it’s true that the businesses behind innovative research are better positioned to keep pace with evolving customer needs, market conditions and news stories in times of rapid change – as explored in our recent blog – the potential value and applications of unique data stretches much further.

Owned resources such as research data can help provide a strong asset for strategic public relations (PR) programmes that help elevate business trust, influence, and overall success. In fact, GingerMay partnerships prove programmes that incorporate bespoke research amplify both reach and results, with one research-driven campaign for a global e-commerce martech organisation achieving over 30 pieces of coverage across four major markets leading to a 30% uplift for qualified in-bound sales leads.

But it’s also important to recognise that the impact of research initiatives is determined by the way they are approached and harnessed. To realise the full power of first-party data, organisations must understand how to produce and use it effectively.

Why invest in research?

At a thought leadership level, conducting research that explores wider industry context and emerging trends allows businesses to not only take the lead on current conversations, but also bolster their authority. By supporting contributions with owned data, they can enhance the value they bring to discussions and their status as trusted experts.

What’s more, the capacity to demonstrate that viewpoints are rooted in real knowledge will increase their appeal for journalists who are more focused than ever on giving news stories a firmer factual basis, especially as demand for reliable information rises. This will give organisations a better chance of becoming the preferred choice for industry commentary and analysis; boosting their share of voice within the media and strengthening long-term relationships with key publications. Plus, there is also the opportunity for companies to use unique assets as the basis for producing high-quality thought leadership content. For example, that might include gated white papers that serve multiple purposes — providing audience education while bringing in new leads and driving valuable data collection — or widely available blogs, bylined articles, press releases and ’snackable’ one-pagers or infographics that reach broader audiences.

And from the wider organisational perspective, research has an essential part to pay in guiding smarter decisions across the business. With deeper insight into what customers want and how those needs are likely to change, companies can refine their activities to guide short and long-term success: tapping into today’s needs with targeted marketing and advertising campaigns, while preparing for tomorrow’s requirements with proactive product and service development.

The four pillars of research success

To build the optimal research project, businesses must build a smart research strategy that follows several vital steps:

1. Start with the key goal

Obvious as it sounds, broad studies typically produce generalised findings that offer limited value. For instance, having data that shows 80% of consumers plan to purchase gifts this Christmas would be a positive but not illuminating finding. But uncovering more specific trends — such as an inclination to spend more this year amid the recent pandemic disruption and the ways in which the general public will spend — could help companies increase their edge over competitors and gain top-tier media coverage that raises their profile among relevant target audiences.

It’s therefore paramount to start with the desired headline and work backwards. By pinpointing what exactly they want to find and building research questions around it, companies will have greater chance of generating interesting and actionable data.

2. Format questions with care

Similarly, it’s also important to consider how research questions are asked dependent on the methodology. For example, using open-ended questions can help obtain detailed qualitative insight, but usability depends on research scope and goals. If companies are keen to understand the perspectives of a relatively small sample size — such as 150-200 B2B marketers — this is a viable option. Conversely, those aiming to analyse the preferences and priorities of 2,000 consumers may find such open-ended and variable responses mean resulting data is too unwieldy and complex to analyse effectively.

At the other end of the scale, overly simplified questions don’t accommodate the nuances of individual opinion. For example, binary ‘yes or no’ questions on whether respondents currently use certain technology tech tools may fail to pick up on their interest in adopting it in future.

3. Set a realistic timeline

There are no shortcuts to high quality research. To conduct robust investigations and deliver valid outcomes, organisations must allow a realistic timeline that enables them to cover all the essential bases; including comprehensive planning, testing, and analysis.

Taking the time to test a selection of questions before sending out full surveys, can ensure there will be enough response among their sample to produce results that are representative and useable. Meanwhile, allowing sufficient time for granular post-survey analysis will enable companies to extract maximum value from their data; applying refined segmentation and evaluation to find significant trends, patterns and behaviours they may otherwise have missed.

4. Pick the right partner

Finally, organisations need the right partner for their needs. For example, when projects are intended to power PR activities, the best choice will not only have a thorough understanding of research best practices, but also the capabilities needed to harness data for strategic PR activity.

At GingerMay, our expert team have extensive experience in coordinating the entire research process, including seasoned specialists to build questionnaires that have the best chance of yielding rich results and translating data into headlines with the highest probability of capturing media attention, in the right places.

For more information about our research services, click here.

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