Top tips for conducting a successful PR research story

Top tips for conducting a successful PR research story

Charlotte Stoel

Charlotte Stoel

How long would you wait in a queue? What’s the weirdest thing you’ve bought when shopping online after a drink or two? The nation’s preferences, habits and choices are revealed to us on a daily basis through surveys and these are just a couple of questions we’ve asked the public in recent market research for clients.

A PR campaign is comprised of many different factors, with survey stories one of the most effective coverage generators for consumer and b2b businesses to get their key messages heard. Whether supporting a PR campaign or thought leadership piece, research can be a cost-effective addition. The data will provide journalists with a news hook or shock factor that they can build out into a brand new story.

What would you like to know image

With a range of research companies at the ready to help you implement quick and simple surveys, it’s important to plan properly before you put questions into the field. With that in mind, here are our top tips to get the most out of PR research:

1. Do your research before doing research

 When you’ve decided that data will be a good support to your PR activity, conduct an audit to check out what research has already been carried out in your sector. Make sure you are not repeating a survey which has already been conducted and you are bringing a new angle to the topic.

2. Clearly outline objectives beforehand

What do you want to achieve from your research activity? Sign ups, awareness, traffic to a certain page of your website? Have your audience in mind and your objectives in place before you start working out what stories you want to tell.

3. Reverse engineering

Think headline first, then work back from there. Outlining the answers you hope to achieve, means you can find a way of asking the right question. Make sure you cover the ‘so what?’. For example, saying that people only have the patience to queue in a shop for 5 minutes might not mean anything unless you say how that can heavily impact retail sales.

4. Strategically order the questions

Think about what your respondents’ mindset might be after being asked questions on a certain topic, as it may influence their response to questions further down the line. For example, you’re likely to get different answers to the question ‘do you have a healthy lifestyle?’ if you ask several questions beforehand about diet and exercise.

 5. Test your questions

Your questions might sound great to you and your client, but might not resonate with the audience. One quick way of avoiding this is testing your questions on friends or colleagues first of all.

 6. Expand on your initial story idea

Often you receive data that has been broken down by gender, age and region. You can use these figures for stories targeting a broader range of titles, making it go further. What was originally a national story could be regionalised and later repurposed into a trade story.

7. Be relevant

 We’ve all seen pieces in the Metro where a research story has been covered with little relation to the company who published the research. These stories may have reached the pages of nationals, but what business result will companies really see from these? Make sure this isn’t you!

8. Mining your own data

Companies are constantly collecting data, which, if interpreted in the right way, can tell an interesting story. For example, Firefly client Give as you Live – an online shopping platform – analysed thousands of shopping transactions in 2013 to reveal that most holiday bookings are made in April. The results appeared in a range of publications, from the Mail Online to a host of regional titles, including the Western Daily Press.

If you’re looking to add a research story to your next PR campaign, please get in touch – email us at or call 0203 170 8008

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