Research also fits in with a strategic public relations plan. According to Steven Symes (2015), research for public is important for four reasons: it provides unbiased information, allows a PR practitioner to look at the organization’s strengths and weaknesses, provides information on how to properly prepare a public relations message, and to be able to gain feedback about a public relations plan.
Unbiased information is key in a situation of planning a public relations campaign because, no matter which employees in the company one talks to, they are all going include some sort of bias in their responses. Research removes that and allows for the public relations practitioner to get a clear idea of what the company stands for and what they are looking for. Looking at the strengths and weaknesses of an organization can help because it could determine where the organization needs to work and change in order to better reach their consumers. If it is something beyond their control, then it is understandable that they are unable to change that particular factor. However, if it is something that is in their control, then the PR practitioner can suggest ways or ideas on how to make improvements.
When properly preparing a public relations message, research is important so that the facts being presented are correct and the information makes sense in terms of relating to the task at hand. The information being presented should also be from credible sources, otherwise the executives of the company who need a PR practitioners help may not have the confidence if the sources used for research are not credible. Gaining feedback is also important because it can let a PR practitioner and the company know what strategies or tactics that are currently being utilized are actually working or not. If they do not work, then they can take the information provided from feedback to either completely change the tactic or tweak it just enough that it actually does prove useful and provides adequate results.
Research also allows the PR practitioner to be able to provide adequate rational as to why something was done. PrFriend (n.d) lists three things to keep in mind when either researching a topic or getting ready to present to a company: know the client, find the market, and choose the media. It can be almost guaranteed that a client will be asking why the PR practitioner suggested to reach out to this particular audience instead of that particular audience. I think of the ‘who, what, when, where, and why” that has always been mentioned in school. Be prepared to answer the why…and this is where research in PR can come into play. Once again, credibility is also important here. Being able to answer the ‘why’ through the use of research can add to the credibility of a PR firm or practitioner.
Research can also be used to look at the consumer. Frank Lang (1951) states in his article that questions asked about customer attitudes fell into four categories: attitude toward the service provided by the company, attitude toward cost of service, attitude toward the company in particular, and recall of company advertising in the press and radio. It can be beneficial to understand what the customer thinks because they are, after all, the person who is purchasing the product or service. The company can learn what tactics are working and what may not be working from the eyes of the person who has seen the efforts of the company to reach them. Overall, research has many uses in PR and learning how to not only properly research but utilize the information can be valuable.
Lang, F. (1951). The role of research in public relations. The Public Opinion Quarterly, 15(1), 54-64. doi:10.1086/266278
PR Friend. (n.d.) The Importance of Research in Public Relations http://www.prfriend.com/research-in-public-relations
Symes, S. (2015). How is Research Important to Strategic Public Relations Plans? http://smallbusiness.chron.com/research-important-strategic-public-relations-plans-15586.html