How to Plan Your Next PR and Content Research Project



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Using all types of market research to better understand your customers or your addressable market is a long-established way to deliver better products, services and experiences. But using quantitative market research (surveys, polls and questionnaires) to fuel PR and content research marketing campaigns is an underutilized strategy. The data and analysis generated from this kind of research provides a treasure trove of opportunities for integrated marketing teams to build brand awareness, increase share of voice and attract new prospects.

But undertaking your own market research campaign can seem daunting, and many businesses feel priced out of, or overwhelmed by research opportunities.

The good news is you don’t have to be a market research expert or have a huge budget to leverage research for your PR and content research marketing campaigns: research campaigns are not one-size-fits-all. With a little preparation, clear objectives and precise questions for potential partners, you can tailor a market study to perfectly fit your business needs and your budget. The Fletcher Group team takes frequent forays into the world of market research for content marketing and PR and have a few tips to help you get your research underway.

  • Work backward: Exactly what purpose will the data you generate serve for your business? Will it back up product claims? Drive sales? Create marketing and PR material? Although research can be leveraged in multiple areas of your business, be sure you have a focused and prioritized set of objectives. Once you know your end point – the specific roles this research will play in your larger business plan – you can connect the dots backward to identify the steps you’ll need to take to achieve the desired outcome. In terms of media relations, for example, we’ve found that creating headlines before we craft survey questions is helpful. That way, when we’re reviewing drafted questions, it’s easier to look back at our headlines and make sure we’ve asked questions that will speak to each point or hypothesis.
  • Be original: Before you begin to develop your research strategy, have a look at the research being done in your industry. Would your study bring a new perspective to the table? Is there a “white space” that your company can own? Compare what’s out there to the research you’d like to conduct to get a sense of the value such research will bring to your intended market and avoid going head-to-head with other established research studies.
  • Be timely but think long-term: Find a topic and hypothesis with shelf-life and avoid locking your research into hyper-specific events or time windows. The caveat here is that if your industry revolves around certain calendar-specific events (i.e. retail’s relationship to the Christmas shopping season), those are fair targets for market research. Studies around other one-off events of short-lived trends, however, will get stale fast.
  • Use your data everywhere: Make sure you have a plan to make the most of your data beyond the release date. Look for ways to repackage and repurpose the study, whether that’s a zoom-in-blog on specific aspects of your study or bundling findings into a speaker presentation or dozens of stat-focused social posts. You might also consider a study with a tracking element, allowing you to report out fresh findings every month, quarter or year and follow trends as they develop.

Often, businesses interested in conducting market research will engage a partner to conduct, analyze, package and present the study. There are a wide variety of partners available to you, but they generally fall into one of three categories: third party market research firms, industry analysts and media/trade outlets with research capabilities. It is imperative that you align your goals and strategy with a partner who offers exactly what you need (and won’t charge you for things you don’t).

It is important to understand what you can expect at each price tier when putting together a market research plan. Generally, the more you spend on a partner, the broader your study can be, and the more legwork is taken off your plate. Working in the top tier means you’re contracting a team of data scientists, market analysts and designers. You’re also paying for a third party’s brand name credibility. The high cost of these top tier research contracts presents a real barrier to entry for some businesses. Luckily, there are ways to get into the market research game at many budget levels.

Courtney Brunkow, Anna Kragie and Lindsey Abshire contributed to this story.