Readings from: Public Relations: Strategies and Tactics
Effective public relations is a process, and the essential first step in the process is research. Research is a form of listening. Before any public relations program can be undertaken, information must be gathered and data must be collected and interpreted. Many questions should be asked before formulating a research design:
- What is the problem?
- What kind of information is needed?
- How will the results of the research be used?
- What specific public should be researched?
- Should the organization do the research in house or hire an outside consultant?
- How will the research data be analyzed, reported or applied?
- How soon will the results be needed?
- How much will the research cost?
- To achieve credibility with management. Executives want facts, not guesses.
- To define audiences and segment publics. Detailed information about the demographics, lifestyles, characteristics, and consumption patterns of audiences helps to ensure that messages reach the proper audiences.
- To formulate strategy. Much money can be spent pursuing the wrong strategies.
- To test messages. Research is often used to determine what particular massage is most popular with the target audience.
- To help management keep in touch. In a large city, top management is increasingly isolated from the concerns of employees, customers, and other important publics.
- To prevent crises. Research can often uncover trouble spots and public concerns before they become news.
- To monitor the competition. This is done through surveys that ask consumers to comment on competing products, content analysis of the competition’s media coverage, and reviews of industry reports in trade journals.
- To sway the public opinion. Facts and figures, compiled from a variety of primary and secondary sources, can change public opinion.