Public relations pros are experts at taking a topic, client, or product and slicing and dicing it into many different story angles. A tried and true tactic is using public relations survey results to help generate media coverage.
However, just commissioning a survey does not guarantee results…you have to be smart about it.
There are many benefits of public relations surveys–findings can be used for not only the actual press release but also for:
- Blog content
- White papers
- Data visualization
Because of this, public relations survey results offer professionals a wealth of different topics to expound on.
Watch our brief introduction to public relations surveys before learning how to maximize the results.
Tip 1: Think about your story angle
Think about what you want the data to say to help move your storyline forward. Leveraging anything from what’s in the zeitgeist to gaining consumer attitudes or insights on a topic are good areas to start.
For example, I had a client who wanted to talk about the competitive pricing of their product compared to the market leader.
Since we couldn’t pitch a story that said “our product is cheaper and just as good if not better than the market leader,” we decided to use a survey to ask adults how they would spend $1,000 (the annual delta between the products) that they could save over a year.
This type of psychological strategy to influence customer spending is a less invasive way to get the information you need.
The survey results allowed us to have a natural way to raise the pricing topic.
When considering consumer behavior, you must consider consumer psychology.
By doing this, you’ll understand why the consumer behaves the way they do. In the aforementioned example, consumers were given the opportunity to think about the possibilities of saving $1,000.
This tactic not only got consumers thinking about their spending habits, it gave the client detailed information on their market.
💡 The Key Takeaway: Understanding the angle you want to use with your feedback is a necessary step. Going into a PR survey without potential story ideas can add difficulty to the process. By crafting a thought-out public relations questionnaire, organizing content will be that much easier.
Tip 2: Target your audience
While research pros think of “audience” as those to be surveyed, PR practitioners think of the “audience” as not just consumers/customers but also reporters/media outlets. If you want to increase the ROI of your research, you need to get as much media coverage as possible.
Therefore, thinking about parsing out the public relations survey results in a tiered approach can give even more traction. For example, perhaps you have a key reporter in mind to “break” your story.
So, you work with that reporter for the “curtain-raising” story, followed by a blog post (linking to the story) and coming up with a general pitch to a broader group of journalists.
Working with a national print/online outlet can help your story jump to broadcast channels…and that’s just all gravy!
However, recent studies show that 59% of public relations professionals find it hard to snag a journalist to communicate with for a story. Don’t let this deter you–just make sure you dedicate time to get in touch with a reporter.
Your first “curtain-raising” story from your public relations survey results signals that the piece is credible to other journalists and can help spur more results when targeting other print, online, broadcast, bloggers, podcasts outlets.
And remember, everything you send to a reporter is fair game. So, please do not send something inappropriate and cringe-worthy, or a fluffy pitch to a serious reporter–or vice versa.
Sometimes poorly-targeted pitches get printed, including excerpts or in their entirety.
💡 The Key Takeaway: Your audience isn’t only the people that will be reading your PR survey content, it’s media outlets, too. Consider partnering with a journalist to work on your first story to learn what type of data they're looking for. Then, the journalist can link to your survey results in their published article.
Tip 3: PR Survey Advertising
While experienced PR polling pros know if you want media coverage, your public relations research survey cannot be overtly commercial.
However, sometimes, over-eager executives don’t appreciate the nuance of research methods for public relations. It’s our job as subject matter experts to diplomatically explain how and why the data will be used.
Explain your communications strategy and, if needed, the research company you work with can provide you with talking points or even join a conference call to provide industry best practices.
You can also point out that public relations survey results can be used in an advertising campaign, but the survey shouldn’t be structured to just say how great your product, idea, or company is.
Reporters like “tension” in their stories and are very unlikely to publish something that is a glowing review.
💡 The Key Takeaway: Take care to ensure your survey results aren’t one-sided. The more overtly “positive” your results are, the less likely they are to grab attention.
Tip 4: Make it Credible
Do you want to get national (or any) media coverage? Then you have to shell out some additional bucks to ensure the survey results are statistically relevant to the population.
The minimum is 1,000 responses, which provides a margin of error of +/- 3.1%--but even better is 2,000 responses for a margin of error of +/- 2.2%.
The media is not interested in survey results with a margin of error greater than +/-3.1%. The margin of error is too high for credible outlets to deem accurate or credible.
What is margin of error, exactly?
It refers to the standard for reliability of data with randomized sampling and probability. Intertwined with three best-in-class market research statistics, a margin of error is related to confidence levels.
A survey with the following margin of error percentages are considered best practice:
With these numbers, margin of error is able to tell you the accuracy of data received.
💡 The Key Takeaway: Spending more money to make sure the results of your survey are accurate is 100% worth it, trust us. Data that isn’t seen as reliable is less likely to be used or trusted by audiences.
Tip 5: Toot your own horn
Similar to slicing and dicing topics into pitch angles, take the data from your public relations survey results and amplify them in your owned channels.
As we covered earlier in the post, PR surveys are marketing gold because of how many ways you can benefit from them. There’s no “right” or “wrong” way with how you use this feedback–that depends on your brand’s specific needs and goals.
There are lots of ways to amplify your message, including:
- A blog post about your survey results
- Thought leadership piece for LinkedIn citing the results
- Infographic and publish it in its entirety as well carve into snackable bites
- Sample tweets, LinkedIn and FB posts for employee evangelists to share as appropriate
- Bylined articles for trade or business journals
- Promoted and/or paid social media posts
- YouTube video or animated infographic
- Customer emails
- Marketing materials
- Sales materials
For instance, it was found that B2B consumers preferred video (49%) and interactive content (36%), along with others formats. By knowing your target media outlets and audience, you’ll be able to successfully pick which channels to promote your new data.
💡 The Key Takeaway: The ways in which you choose to use your PR survey data are many. From infographics to blog posts to social media posts and everything in between, make sure that you use your feedback for a variety of different outlets.
About the Author
This is a guest post from Lara Wyss, senior public relations executive and founder of LaraPR, a preferred PR partner for Drive Research. Lara's work is focused on the intersection of award-winning communications strategies and world-class organizations – drawing consumer, corporate, and issues management experience to strategically grow brands.
Drive Research is a PR polling company located in New York. Our services extend across the U.S. and the world. Our market research firm has worked with Fortune 500 brands, helping deliver insights, action items, and ROI on their survey efforts.
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