PR Market Research: Why & How to Conduct It

press release on desk

Any public relations professional knows that gaining media coverage requires more than just effective messaging. It calls for exclusive content that is relevant and tells a story that has never been told before.

That's where PR market research steps into the limelight.

In this blog post, we'll unravel the essence of public relations market research - what they are, why they are valuable in today's media landscape, and how to craft and conduct them effectively.

From earning media coverage to becoming a thought leader in your industry, PR surveys hold a multitude of benefits. So, let's dive into the art and science of leveraging surveys to shape your PR strategy and make a lasting impression.

What is PR Market Research? 

A significant aspect of PR market research involves the utilization of surveys to generate headlines and garner PR coverage.

Through custom PR surveys, marketers and public relations professionals can rely on unique statistics that enable the creation of more impactful PR campaigns. 

For instance, Cision surveyed 3,000 journalists to help communication professionals create mutually beneficial partnerships with media outlets.

When asked what kind of content or information journalists wanted to receive from strategic communicators, 68% said they wanted data – in the form of original research.

Some other pretty telling findings:

  • 43% of journalists have used data visualization in their work in the last year.
  • 37% of journalists won't cover a product unless the pitch includes “data showing trends and problems the product is solving for my readers.”
  • 34% of journalists included web polls or surveys in their content this past year (up from 16% in the year prior).

It's no wonder public relations surveys are the secret weapon of PR pros.

Steps to Conducting PR Market Research

As we've discussed conducting public relations market research is crucial for understanding your target audience, identifying media outlets, crafting effective messaging, and measuring the impact of your PR efforts.

But how do you do it?

Here is the step-by-step process to help you conduct PR market research:

Step 1. Kickoff meeting

Whether you are working with a PR survey company or conducting the research in-house, we recommend starting the project with a kickoff meeting of sorts. 

Here you will want to clearly outline what you want to achieve with your PR efforts.

For instance, are you looking to increase brand awareness, launch a product, improve your company's reputation, or something else?

Another great discussion point is determining who your ideal audience is.

This includes demographics, psychographics, and any other relevant characteristics. Consider factors like age, gender, location, interests, and behaviors.

From here, all project stakeholders can move forward knowing they're on the same page. 

Step 2. Project workplan

Next up is the market research project work plan

Why is this such an important step? No guesswork! 

All Drive Research studies include a project workplan which is crafted shortly after the initial kickoff meeting. This document clearly outlines what needs to be done throughout the entirety of the project. 

We find that creating a workplan helps both the research team and client work within the planned timeframe and prioritize key tasks.

Additionally, it's also helpful to the client as it keeps them updated on the process. 

Step 3. Survey design

Questions for a PR survey, or any survey for that matter, need to have an end goal in mind. 

  • What is the desired response?
  • Is this question relevant to the goals of the study?
  • How can the potential responses be used for headlines? 

Heading into survey writing and design blind won't benefit anyone, which is why it's important to ask these questions. 

When using survey results from PR, it's especially key to look ahead to how the responses will be used. Think about what's going to garner attention and create eye-catching headlines! 

It's also critical the survey is relatively short - we're talking three to five minutes. This ensures respondents will stay engaged and not lose interest. 

Step 4. Survey programming 

Next up is survey programming. Taking a relatively short time, the survey questions will be taken from their original document and then programmed into the survey platform. 

During this process, researchers will review:

  • Grammar/spelling
  • Question order
  • Skip patterns

Step 5. Survey testing

It's really important to test surveys prior to fieldwork. Doing this allows for tiny issues that may be lurking to be caught. 

Much of this is done in what's called a soft launch. Soft launching is where the survey is sent out to a small pool of respondents versus the entire pool. 

This way, if there is an issue, it won't be seen by the entire group of respondents. 

Step 6. Full launch and online portal

Once the survey is good to go, the full launch starts! This is when all respondents will be able to take the survey. 

Our online portal plays a large role in this process. 

This special reporting dashboard allows clients to stay updated on how their PR survey is coming. The online portal can be accessed anywhere with a phone or laptop, giving clients peace of mind that their survey is running smoothly. 

Drive Research online survey portal

Step 7. Reporting and Debrief Meeting

After the survey data has been cleaned, the final report for the PR survey will include all of the important information found in the responses. 

Your PR survey findings will either come in a polished topline or comprehensive market research report

Both reports will include a full rundown of the project, including the methodology used, key data points, and how clients can use the information to earn more press coverage.

The report can also include a banner Excel file, which includes cross-tabs comparing results across each category in the PR survey. 

Lastly, a debriefing meeting will also be held to close the project.

Both the research team and the client will discuss the following:

  • Overview of the project
  • Key findings/interesting details
  • How to use information moving forward

Why Conduct PR Market Research

Reason #1: Your Company Can Use PR Surveys to Earn Media Coverage 

Is your brand seeking to obtain media coverage? Whether your ultimate goal is Forbes, Cosmopolitan, The Wall Street Journal, or more local news outlets, public relations market research is a great way to get your company featured in the media. 

PR market research yields newsworthy data that can be easily crafted into a press release and distributed to journalists around the world. 

The benefits of earned media coverage statistically outweigh those of paid media.

Some of the advantages of earned media are: 

  • Higher ROI
  • Increased credibility 
  • Broader reach to a range of audiences
  • Generate brand awareness
  • More cost-effective

Reason #2: Become a Thought Leader in Any Industry

Perhaps your industry is extremely competitive, stuck in its old ways, or rapidly changing.

Wherever your industry or company may fall within the market, it's probably important to your company that it is considered competitive, innovative, and a thought leader in its space. 

A PR survey is a great way for companies to be considered a thought leader in their industry.

With the ownership of new data and ideas through exclusive research, your company will have proprietary information that sets it apart from your competitors. 

What are some of the benefits of using custom research to become a thought leader? These may include: 

  • Press coverage 
  • New customers 
  • More credibility 
  • Increased exposure 
  • Business development opportunities

Reason #3: One of the Most Cost-Effective Methodologies

Public relations market research and surveys are known for having a high return on investment (ROI).

Why’s that?

Rather than investing thousands and thousands of dollars into a paid digital advertising campaign, PR surveys allow companies to invest a fraction of their traditional advertising budgets into market research and generate earned media coverage. 

From there, your company is able to use the survey data in several other ways…which brings us to reason #4.   

Reason #4: There are Endless Uses for PR Survey Data

One of the many reasons PR surveys are so cost-effective and have such a high ROI is the number of uses for the data and feedback. 

Here are a few ways organizations can maximize the results of PR market research:

Press releases, infographics, and other social media deliverables

Turning exclusive market research data into eye-catching deliverables such as press releases, infographics, and other social media content is one of the many advantages of conducting a PR survey.

These deliverables will help your company generate media coverage and communicate the findings with internal and external stakeholders. 

Here is an example of an infographic created by Drive Research with data from this PR study.

PR survey infographic example

Power data-driven marketing campaigns

Data-driven marketing is an added benefit of not just PR surveys, but any type of market research.

PR-focused market research might uncover valuable information that can, in turn, be used to optimize your brand’s communication.

As a marketer, you’ll be able to take the unique data to inspire a creative marketing campaign and communicate with the consumers that matter most to your business.   

Sell consumer products or experiences

Have you ever purchased a product and printed right on the package was something along the lines of “97% saw results in just 2 weeks!”?

Consumer survey data can easily be used to sell products and experiences to consumers.

Website copy and blog posts 

PR survey findings aren’t just for press releases. The research can be repurposed into website copy or blog posts to allow your company to take advantage of the market research it invested in. 


The shelf-life of survey data can continue long beyond the initial deliverables. A webinar is a great opportunity for your company to increase its brand awareness and credibility. 

For example, here is a webinar we hosted after conducting a PR survey on shifts in consumer behavior as it relates to COVID-19.

Reason #5: Online Surveys Yield High-Quality Data

Drive Research carefully writes its online surveys to result in unbiased, high-quality data.

How do we ensure high-quality data? 

Before fully launching a PR study, Drive Research takes the survey for a test drive where we’ll collect responses from about 5% of the desired sample size.

Why do we do this?

It allows us to triple-check data quality, survey logic, and survey question comprehension. 

Once a survey has successfully made it through the soft launch and initial quality checks, we’ll send the survey into its full launch. From there, we’ll keep a close eye on the responses as they come in to ensure the data is panning out as expected. 

During fieldwork analysis, we’ll remove any survey speeders, duplicate IP addresses, non-sense responses, and anything else that doesn’t look right. 

Reason #6: PR Market Research is Timely 

Have an idea for a PR polling study, but you don’t have the time to sit around and wait for the survey results? We move quickly here at our market research company

Through the use of our market research panel, we’re able to get high-quality data into your hands in as little as two to three days (sometimes even quicker).

No matter what your market research timeline consists of, there are likely PR survey packages that will work for your company. 

Reason #7: There is an Endless Number of Trending Survey Topics

Since PR surveys are custom for each individual client, the number of survey topics available to choose from is endless.

Whether you know exactly what you’d like to learn about, or have not the slightest of ideas, there are plenty of trending topics for your company to explore. 

Our market research team will help you brainstorm for survey topics until we find something that works best for you (through the use of some secondary research, of course).  

Our experts will take a look at: 

  • What’s trending in your industry 
  • Any existing relevant market research 
  • What’s newsworthy and relevant at the time

Contact Our PR Market Research Company

Drive Research is a PR market research 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.

Questions about how to make surveys work for PR? 

Contact us below for a detailed proposal for your project.

  1. Message us on our website
  2. Email us at [email protected]
  3. Call us at 888-725-DATA
  4. Text us at 315-303-2040

elizabeth sincavage author of market research company blog

Elizabeth Sincavage

Elizabeth has a curious mind and is never afraid to ask “why?” She discovered her passion for research and exploring data while completing her bachelor’s degree at Marist College. As a researcher, she believes you’re never truly done learning.

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