*COVID-19 - Click here to see how we are working during the coronavirus pandemic.
Shout! Communications
Shout! Communications
View all posts >
Blog Post

What makes perfect PR research?

Shout! Communications
Shout! Communications
View all posts >
  • 47% of adults say a sunny morning makes their day
  • 36% of teenagers say they’ve been bullied
  • 68% of mums say they wish they could have a child free day a week.

What would PR practitioners do without research? Some would say research has had its day, but we know that newsrooms short of resources no longer have the budget to fill every bulletin with investigative or breaking news stories. Often they’re grateful for some engaging content.

Surveys are a mainstay of broadcast PR campaigns and allow brands to gain high media visibility. From a brand’s perspective, third party research can endorse its messages and the more credible the research the more likely it is to be talked about. In our experience research, tends to work best for radio campaigns. Often a survey-based story can be summed up on air in a couple of sentences, and with a good spokesperson to comment on the stats it can spark a debate or discussion. They work at their best when they tap into trends or predict things – these can be light-hearted, such as the prevalence of ‘snaccidents’ or more serious, such as optimism regarding global economic conditions.

Watch out, though, for the ‘so-what?’ stories. If when you’re compiling the questions your reaction is neutral or disinterested, the questions probably aren’t right for a broadcast research campaign. A brand mention on behalf of the brand who commissioned the research can be weaved into a broadcast  interview, and both BBC and commercial stations accept this is the payoff for running your story.

TV news and lifestyle programmes can find it more challenging to illustrate surveys as they lack pictures and often require case studies to bring them to life. Some polling companies provide them but they require careful vetting. Where research works well for TV is on more serious stories, where the stations can create their own graphics crediting the brand for the information – for example stats on dog attacks, or uninsured drivers.

Broadcasters, the BBC in particular, have strict guidelines about using PR generated research. The minimum polling size is 1000 and ideally 2000+. It is critical that the research is broken down into regions, and a bonus if it also encompasses cities too. There are some exceptions to this – if the research is speaking to a specific niche audience, for example, GP’s or CEO’s of the top 250 FTSE companies, then a smaller sample is acceptable. Trusted research firms include YouGov, MORI and Harris but others including OnePoll are highly respected. Radio and TV journalists are savvy  – snappy infographics and pages of data won’t dress up less credible research.

Research can be expensive, entry level from around £1500 plus VAT for 6-8 questions to tens of thousands of pounds for quality, quantitative global research. It is a significant investment and there are some guidelines which will help your broadcast PR research story to deliver the best return on investment.

Our top tips:

Our recommendation would be to spend more of your budget on increasing the number of people polled rather than questions asked. 10-12 questions is typically is more than enough to create a broadcast press release.

It sounds obvious but don’t ask closed questions – questionnaire design is critical to the final outcome. In our experience the best research findings are when you think of the headlines you’d like to see and then engineer the questions accordingly. There is also a tendency from polling companies to give too many options to respondents, this dilutes the headlines and makes crafting the press release with any meaningful top lines very difficult.

One final critical point is to ensure that your research is as contemporaneous as possible – leave the polling to the last possible moment and ideally no more than a month before you publish it. The first place broadcasters will go is to the notes to editors to see how and when it was conducted. Credible research has been rejected for being too old. Beware too of trying to squeeze two separate campaigns out of one set of research questions.

by Catherine Bayfield, Co-Director at Shout! Communications

Interested in learning more? Why not book into our free course; ‘Commissioning Research for PR Campaigns’, hosted in partnership with 3Gem Research and Insights.

Comments are closed.

Free eBook

Free Guide

Best PR Video Practices

This E-book looks at some tips and tricks in all areas of production

Download now

Related Work

English Apples

Shout! worked to promote the start of English apple season with a national and regional radio day and creative corporate video for English Apples’ social media pages.

See full case study >