Research is essential to everything. When it comes to Public Relations, research is quintessential to making any public relations plan effective. The entire concept of research is to become informed with what has been done, what needs to be done, and how to accomplish that goal. Without researching the client, the target audience, and the product, a possible PR strategy could be repeating a plan that was already executed, thus wasting everyone’s time. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons it really is beneficial to research in public relations.
The firm needs to know what the client has done in the past. If they try to dive into a new public relations plan with no prior knowledge of what the company has done before, they are taking a huge risk that isn’t necessary. The first thing they need to do is assess and plan for the year ahead according to Rachel Meranus (2014): “Determine the angles and pitches that worked well and resulted in positive coverage. Take note of which journalists reported in their favor and which didn’t.” They’ve got to be aware of what they’re working with and what has worked for this client before, in order to best plan out what the future public relations plan will entail.
The firm has to be able to explain itself and what they’re trying to do for the client. According to Don W. Stacks (2010), “Research is important because public relations people are finding that research is part and parcel of their jobs when they offer communication strategies, counsel on communication problems, and educate clients as to the best public relations strategies or actions.” If the public relations firm isn’t educated about the subject, why would the client choose that firm? Stacks (2010) goes on to say that “[Practitioners] are reduced to taking, at best, educated guesses regarding the problem and potential intervention programs, and thus they run a greater risk of being unable to predict outcomes accurately.” If they don’t research, they are setting themselves up for failure. Research the competitors, see what they are doing. Even if one thinks their idea is completely original, they’ve got to be able to back that statement up with solid, unbiased facts. Determine what the overall business objectives are and use those as a basis of creating the plan of attack.
Finally, they need to research how they’re going to accomplish that goal and if it is going to be effective. They need to ask themselves, “What will be the best way to reach this target audience most effectively?” Zulhamri Abdullah (2012) states that there are two different types of data collection. “A positivistic approach is based on quantitative observation, which provides descriptive data about particular subjects of study.” This approach includes instruments such as questionnaire surveys or experiments. Zulhamri goes on to explain, “In contrast, a phenomenological approach is used to study more complex human experiences of life, and involves in-depth and detailed descriptions of events and direct quotations.” This approach includes instruments such as in-depth interviews and focus groups. Depending on the client, target audience, and overall objectives, they have to be able to make an educated guess on which research approach will be best for the client, and without research they won’t be able to confidently give an opinion.
At the end of the day, it is easy to tell why research is important in public relations. Without it, there is no rhyme or reason to anything one might want to do. There needs to be a plan and it has to be able to be backed up every step of the way.
Abdullah, Z. (2012). Improving educational and professional standards of public relations professionalism: Towards a mixed methods research approach. International Journal of Multiple Research Approaches, 6(2), 109-124. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.gvsu.edu/docview/1314696085?accountid=39473
Meranus, Rachel. (2014). Developing a PR Plan. Retrieved from http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/173460
Stacks, Don W. (2010). Primer of Public Relations Research. Retrieved from https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=VvR_JA8oqicC&oi=fnd&pg=PR1&dq=why+is+research+important+in+public+relations&ots=_VaVTBy-xn&sig=cFouYutzPlY77ZycKS78Ln_7ZJY#v=onepage&q=why%20is%20research%20important%20in%20public%20relations&f=false