Written by Heather McLeod • Published 18th April 2016 • 3 minute read

Every good PR professional attributes their success to the ability to plan a solid strategy and tell a story. However, in a crowded market with a huge number of different causes and campaigns competing for their moment in the spotlight, one of the biggest challenges facing third sector PR teams is how to make their media campaign stand out.

Research is a fantastic way in which to do this, it helps to bring a campaign to life and gives it meaning and a clear goal, whether it be to influence behaviour, encourage use of a particular service or to just break stigma and encourage conversation on an issue.

The structure of research, however, is crucial.

To get the desired insight into the issue, organisation is key – if you don’t have quality and well-thought-out questions you can’t expect useful or insightful answers. If your survey is poorly structured, you can end up with incomplete, biased and unfocused responses which will harm your campaign.

Here are four ways to make sure the launch of your research campaign is successful:

Start at the end

It is crucial to start your campaign with the end goal in mind. Be clear what you want the campaign research to do: what story you want it to tell, who it will target/ talk to and what change you want to inflict. This will determine your research questioning and structure.

Tips:

  • Envision your campaign top lines and work your survey questions around this. If you can see how your results will look in terms of headlines and visuals, you will find it easier to construct your questions
  • Make sure each question is specific and focused on a single topic or issue at a time
  • Don’t exceed ten questions

Recruit a market research agency

There are a variety of survey tools available for free through online companies like Survey Monkey which make it extremely easy to put together your own survey and launch it for no cost. However, this leaves you with the problem of distributing the questions to respondents and gaining quick insight, which is not an easy task without the database of a market research agency behind you.

Survey Monkey market research

Image courtesy of SurveyMonkey, flickr.com

It is worth investing in a market research company to validate your research. Such companies can help you be more specific with your demographic, enabling you to choose criteria such as age, region and profession and most importantly, they guarantee a solid response rate in a short time frame.

Tip:

  • Discuss your requirements with different providers and gain a competitive quote. Negotiation is key
  • PR agencies can often offer you a competitive in-house rate too

Have a distribution plan of attack

You’ve spent a lot of time developing the strategy of your campaign and then conducting, analysing and evaluating the research so don’t let your organisation fall here. Having a plan of attack will ensure you are sharing the results with the public effectively. This is where you turn your results into news.

Magazines, media distribution

Image courtesy of Dave, flickr.com

Tips:

  • Create a press release
  • Generate a media list with your target journalists and media outlets
  • Share the press release with these contacts under embargo
  • Announce on launch day
  • Look out for current news that you can hook your research results to
  • Tailor your research for different audiences

Have an identity

It is so important to have an identity for a campaign. PR is an important part of the launch of a research report, but a full marketing mix is vital here. Additional forms of marketing need to be present for people to be able to engage with the material. Make sure the following are in place;

Tips:

  • Campaign key messages: to tie into all PR
  • A website landing page: as a call to action
  • Social media: a campaign hashtag to include in all PR and to track conversation
  • Newsletters & blogs: to communicate to your audience in a different tone, style and format
  • PDF report: a downloadable document with full extent and theme of research