Have you done your research?

Poll or survey? Multiple choice or scale of 1-10? Quantitative or qualitative? When it comes to research, deciding on what you want the end goal to be and the best approach to achieving it is essential. As a B2B PR agency we regularly work with our clients to conduct research projects with the results being used as the basis for a range of content assets.

Research is a valuable tool that can be used to provide content for a number of PR and marketing assets including, news hooks for press releases, blog and social media content as well as infographics and animations. The research topic can help organisations align their business and brand with a subject area that’s of interest to their target audience. For example, we recently worked with our client Wax Digital, a provider of eProcurement software to find out what their target audience’s business growing pains are. We worked with a market research company to survey their target audience (UK’s mid-market businesses) and asked a host of questions relating to various business issues, including how procurement impacts business growth. We were then able to use the results as the basis for a marketing and PR campaign.

If you decide to embark on a research project there are a number of different approaches you can take to achieve your end result. Desk research is one example and as its name suggests requires time spent researching a topic including relevant businesses, social media influencers, news articles and picking up the phone and asking your target audience a series of questions. Desk research can also involve simple surveys over social media or eshots, which can provide additional information or statistics.

Sometimes a business can be sat on research or data that they don’t even realise is interesting to a wider audience. Using existing resources is what we like to call natural storytelling, foraging for interesting data which might be hidden within your business and using it to create content that can be used for marketing and PR. We took this approach with Vielife, a global health and wellbeing solutions provider. We uncovered some really interesting data they had on sleep patterns that we revealed to the media resulting in some fantastic media coverage. Find out more here.

Paying an independent market research company to undertake research on your behalf is often one of the most effective ways of gaining the results you want from a survey. Market research companies can help you shape your line of questioning to get the best results. They then conduct the research with your target audience to provide you with a wider and more in-depth piece of research and insight into your chosen topic. This approach usually yields the best results as you’re able to survey a large number of people, plus journalists are generally receptive to independent research surveying a wide cross-section of the population.

You don’t need to look far to find a survey-related story in the national media. For example, earlier this year Paymentsense, a low cost card payment service, conducted a survey into the nation’s favourite takeaway and found that us Brits love a good Chinese. It surveyed 2,000 people and found that 35% chose it as their go to cuisine, closely followed by Indian with 24% of the votes. Paymentsense works with over 50,000 small businesses in the UK including a number of eateries, and looked at how much the average person spends when purchasing a takeaway and how often we order one, to understand how much people are spending. The research revealed that millennials are more likely to order a takeaway once a week, with the average spend being £9.75. The results of the research were wide reaching including in The Mirror, AOL Money, The Caterer and the data has been turned into an infographic for the business’s website, demonstrating how a piece of research can be used for different types of content.

Knowing where to start if you’d like to conduct a piece of research may seem a little daunting, however with multiple ways to use the results it can be a great way to create ‘news’ for your business and support both marketing and PR campaigns. Now, is it lunchtime yet, all this talk of takeaways is really making me crave a Chow mein.

Kat Wilding is a regular contributor to the Skout blog 

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