The headline-driven research survey is chief amongst the many weapons in the technology PR arsenal. Initially, it’s a great way for us to help our clients create a newsworthy story that will resonate well with the media and win that all-important coverage. It also creates more long-term advantages by providing clients with a means to test the waters for their IT services and solutions. Research results can even form the basis of industry whitepapers, infographics and other broader marketing collateral that can be used to drive additional value across our clients’ business.
However, it’s not just a case of banging out a few questions and sitting back to revel in the results (thankfully, or we’d be out of a job!) A lot of thought and planning needs to go into the creation of a PR survey; along with a good amount of blood, sweat and tears. As with any craft; there are some very distinctive dos and don’ts to take into account:
- Do: Create a win-win – tech journalists won’t want to cover a story that just plugs one of our client’s services without offering a meaty story, but our clients will be understandably averse to investing in a research project that offers little else than media mileage. The knack is to find a happy middle-ground; which is why in tech PR it’s so important to combine an in-depth knowledge of the major issues of the day with a detailed understanding of how our clients help to solve them
- Don’t: Create a ‘no sh*t Sherlock’ survey – the market is now so crowded with research surveys that an already cynical media is becoming even more so whenever the word ‘research’ is uttered. As a result, tech PRs can’t afford to be plaguing them with surveys that just tell them what everybody already knows; or worse still, what another survey ‘revealed’ weeks ago. Taking the time to do some research into what other surveys have been conducted, the levels of coverage they achieved and then spending a while thinking about how the debate can be moved on is crucial to success
- Do: Think about the story – your intricately crafted research questions might sound like the most insightful thing that man ever uttered, but if the endgame is to give clients a platform from which to voice their message then that’s the best place to start. Thinking about what questions need to be asked in order to create a clear and concise story that builds that platform is far more effective than just plucking questions out of thin air, or asking them because they sound intelligent!
- Don’t: Ask pointless questions – I can’t stress this one enough. Not only do questions cost clients money (so you don’t want to be wasting one on ‘setting the scene’) but they can also have unforeseen consequences. For example, it’s fairly standard in consumer research to make demographic comparisons, but when it comes to B2B tech is it really that necessary to highlight what sex the survey respondents are? Fairly innocuous you might think, but then a recent headline in Cloud Pro suggests otherwise. It’s difficult to imagine any modern business that stands to benefit from a touch of overt sexism, so it’s a safe bet that they didn’t take this line in the press release! At the end of the day, any journalist worth his (or her!) salt will be looking for the juiciest story in the research findings. Unintentionally creating an angle that sheds clients in a negative light is inexcusable
When handled right, a good research survey can yield some fantastic results; providing our clients with a gramophone to make their voice plainly heard, whilst giving our colleagues in the media industry a decent story to really get their teeth into. So let’s focus on getting it right.