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Successfully using research for PR

By Andrew Dalglish -

Eye care: Clearly confused” read the headline in Personnel Today.  “Research by Specsavers Corporate Eyecare shows that misconceptions surrounding the display screen equipment regulations are leading to eye care overspend” it continues.

OK, I don’t really care either.  What is interesting are some dodgy conclusions.

“30% think the regulations are unclear” they tell us.  Hold on.  That means 70% of businesses, the vast majority, think the regulations are clear.  Not quite the story Specsavers wanted but why let that get in the way.

Now, it could be argued this is a success.  After all, they got coverage regardless.  I disagree.  A well executed knowledge based marketing strategy builds profile whilst also reinforcing perceptions of expertise and a sense of affinity with client issues.  Specsavers have made some noise but potentially damaged the brand’s position by suggesting a lack of true insight.

Too often the ‘we’ll do a cheap survey and get some free PR’ attitude prevails.  The smart marketer though takes a carefully considered approach which follows six guidelines.

  • Make it topical.  Put aside pre-conceptions and the story you want to tell.  Instead, speak with friendly clients and media contacts about what interests them and the pressures faced
  • Make it unique.  Audit the volume and quality of existing analysis in the area.  There’s no point focusing on a worn out topic.  Pick something under- or poorly-covered
  • Make it credible.  Journalists and readers will question reliability and validity.  Design carefully if you want to avoid the bin
  • Make it simple.  In strategically led surveys more complex questioning is invaluable.  Simplicity is the keyword here though.  For example, use straightforward agree/disagree statements rather than 10 point rating scales
  • Make it honest.  It’s obvious when results have been twisted. Telling it like it is adds value and will gain you respect
  • Make it work hard.  Split the survey to cover different topics which can drive regular communication bursts.  And look beyond the press release.  Develop tool kits to support those impacted, create video commentary, run seminars, write white papers

Find out more about Circle Research’s B2B research services here.

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