‘Research’ for PR Planning and Evaluation
Just as PR practices without measurement and evaluation are futile; in an ideal situation, PR practitioners should conduct research before launching a PR campaign. A public relations research methodology has the potential to build the foundation for not just better public relations, but better brands as well.
Whether it’s qualitative or quantitative, thorough research will provide a strong foothold to almost everything that PR practitioners do. Identifying target audiences, framing key messages, developing organizational strategy and finalizing on PR goals; all of it are areas of importance where public relations research is essential to optimize results.
It is essential to understand that brands and their target audiences seldom have perfectly accurate understandings about each other. With PR research, one can identify perception gaps and devise better communique to strike a balance between the two receiving ends of a PR campaign.
It is also interesting to know that content analysis is an essential tool that systematically analyzes the content of communication to determine whether key messages are being communicated to target audiences. It should be used to analyze documents, news articles and television pieces along with speeches, interviews, and other PR tactics; to gauge competition, perception, and brand understanding. Several studies have also found a link between PR research and PR participation in brand decision-making. Despite the recognized benefits of PR research, many practitioners conduct little or no research.
To conclude, public relations research helps determine what an organization’s goals should be, identify possible barriers to achieving goals, and provides knowledge about the key audiences so that every brand achieves its communication, marketing and PR goals. This signifies that even when the ‘lack’ of funds, manpower and time-constraints hit out hard to complete tasks on deadlines; PR research must sail through for successful PR practicing.