PR agencies (even those in Manchester) are well known for delivering survey stories to the media. But there’s a big difference between surveys that just constitute lazy PR and those that really make a point, act as building blocks for a message or campaign and provide a basis for discussion and debate between you and the media.
We’ve recently collaborated with research company Loudhouse on the latter of the above approaches, which amongst other things achieved the lead story in Human Resources magazine for our client. Suzy Timms of Loudhouse has kindly guest blogged for us here outlining why and how surveys must tell stories. Thanks Suzy!
Numbers tell stories, and stories help people engage with brands. As such, surveys and statistics can elevate PR campaigns by providing a compelling narrative built around the attitudes and behaviours of a brand’s target market.
Done properly, PR surveys can generate good media attention, provide useful insights and boost a brand’s profile significantly with its target audience. Done poorly, PR surveys are not only a waste of time and money, but can also damage credibility.
New technologies have made surveys cheaper and easier to execute than ever before and as a result journalists are now deluged with dodgy data and meaningless numbers. Surveys remain a potent tool for content generation if done professionally and presented in a way that makes them stand out from the crowd.
Here are some tips for making PR surveys work for you:
Be clear about why you are conducting the survey – what do you want to get out of it?
Come up with an original idea. See what has been done before and develop alternative angles for research to make sure your idea resonates and captures attention
Carefully consider who you want to survey so it relates to your target audience and the media they will read
Make sure you have a robust sample size so that results are meaningful and credible, especially if you want to analyse any sub-groups such as age, region or industry
Don’t conduct research that directly promotes your brand. Instead use it as a platform to create conversations about things that do or should interest or concern your target audience
Think about telling a story when designing a questionnaire. Having questions that link together to form a narrative will deliver more value and credibility than relying on a single data point. Building a story around contrast and tension is often effective
Consider using infographics. These can make it easy for journalists to get to the key data and make your survey stand out
Make the most of the results. Often a survey can generate more than one story that can be released over time. Putting outputs on your client’s website, creating interactive profiling tools, producing white papers or webinars are just some ways to help give your survey longevity
Get some expert help in putting together a PR survey. This can be a very cost-effective route to ensuring your survey becomes an influential part of your PR campaign
Ask journalists what they want to know – what better way of giving them something they want than getting them involved at the outset
The world doesn’t need any more junk data and phony statistics. People want facts and numbers that mean something to them. When properly thought out and executed PR surveys provide just that becoming both a creative and credible source for the media and key building blocks for successful PR campaigns.
Suzy Timms (@suzytimms)