The first step in the PR process is research. Before any PR program can be undertaken, information myst be gathered and data must be collected and itnterpreted. Questions should be asked before formulating a research design such as: What is the problem? What kind of information is needed? How will the results of the research be used? What specific public (or publics) should be researched? Should the organzations do the research in-house or hire and outside consultant? How will the research data be anazlyzed, reported, or applied? How soon wil the results be needed? How much will the research cost?
These questions will help the PR person determine the extent and nature of the research needed. PR proffesionals use research to achieve credibility with management, define audiences and segment publics, formulate strategies, test messeages, help management keep in touch, to prevent crisises, monitor the competition, to sway public opinion, generate publicity, and to measure success.
Techniques include secondary research, qualitative and quantitatice research. Secondary research uses existing information. They secondary information may include archival research, which looks at the inventory of the organization materials that can inform about succes of product/service, geographical sales analysis, and profile of the typical consumer of product/service. Library and online databases as well as the internet are also examples of where to gather secondary information. This is useful because it is the least expensice. Qualitative research is useful for probing attitudes and perceptions. This is accomplished through many ways. The first may be content analysis, which measures the amount of media coverage and the content of the coverage. Interviews can be conducted by intercept interview, done in public places when a research stops to ask you questions. A more in-depth interview is called purposive interviewing, where interviewees are more carefully selected based on expertise, influence, or leadership. Other ways of researching are focus groups, copy testing and ethnographic techniques. Quantitative research is based on two factors: randomness and a large number of responses. The biggest differnece between quantitative and qualitiative is finding individual preferences and generalized population opinions.

pr-research

Source:

Wilcox, D.L. & Cameron, G.T. (2009). Public Relations: Strategies and Tactics (9th Edition). Boston: Allyn & Bacon

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