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Using PR Market Research for your communications campaign

By David Beesley

Using PR Market Research for your communications campaign

It’s been said that the most successful PR campaigns are those that dedicate the appropriate time and resources to generate the desired results. In principle that’s hard to disagree with - you put the effort in and you get the results. It’s not rocket science.

The challenges arrive when it comes to sustaining the effort. Solid PR campaigns are a marathon, not a sprint, and like a marathon, you have to pace yourself otherwise you’re quickly going to run out of energy.

Generating content with a consistent message takes a lot of effort and strategic and tactical planning. Depending on where you are on the scale of dedicating time and resources, you can start with the basics of a communications campaign using press releases, blogs and feature articles. You can generate sustained results from this activity with good forward planning, but once you’ve bossed this level - what’s next?

Enter PR Market Research, which is crucial for understanding customer needs, tracking market trends, and guiding strategic decision-making in the business-to-business (B2B) sector.

Market Research provides unique insights

The greatest weapon in a PR armoury is having something different or unique to say. This will get the attention of the journalists you’re targeting in your communications campaign. But where do your spokespeople get their information from? Probably by reading the news, industry magazines and following industry influencers?

Yes, many business leaders will have their own opinions on certain technological advancements, business challenges or government policies for example. However, how many are a) truly original and b) willing to put their name to those opinions and have them published in the public domain

By investing in quantitative market research you generate valuable insights that are unique to your business. You’re no longer relying on other people’s opinions or any qualitative or quantitative research they have conducted - you get your own set of market research findings to draw upon and inform your communications, PR or Marketing strategies. Market research reports can provide unique insights that are valuable for PR campaigns.

What types of Market Research can I use for PR?

This depends on your target audience and industry, however, from a high-level point of view, you can perform consumer research or B2B market research. Both have pros and cons, but both can be used for B2B PR campaigns.

Consumer Research = Strengths

  • Sample a large audience that provides a strong national representation 

  • Once live, the data can be gathered quickly 

  • Produces great headlines

  • An annual commitment allows you to create/ track consumer trends over time

  • Cost-effective 

Consumer Research = Weaknesses

  • Sometimes generalistic, so if you want a niche point of view then it can prove tricky/ take longer

B2B Market Research = Strengths

  • Can target key decision makers - therefore adds credibility amongst peers

  • Understanding the buying process is crucial for targeting key decision-makers in B2B research, as it helps navigate complex sales cycles and decision-making involving multiple stakeholders.

  • Produces unique insights that are specific to your target audience and can fuel marketing campaigns and aid sales

  • An annual commitment allows you to create/ track industry trends over time

B2B Research = Weaknesses

  • Takes longer due to specific industry targeting

  • Small sample sizes - but still enough to provide statistical viability and credibility

  • More expensive 

A key distinction to make here is that these examples relate to online quantitative data methods, not qualitative research. Qualitative research is great at adding further context and a better understanding to responses from quantitative data - but these additional insights do have a cost associated with them.

Free-form text boxes on a questionnaire take time to analyse and discover trends. Interviews over the phone take time to secure and ensure you're speaking to the right person. More time = more money. For your first PR Market Research project it's advisable to start with a quantitative research project - whether that is consumer or B2B market research, both are achievable at far less of a cost than large qualitative research.

Using Market Research and Market Trends for Marketing and Sales

A good market research campaign does not just support the press releases, blogs and feature articles I mentioned earlier - this is just the tip of the iceberg. The results should be used to support Social Media activity and create visuals like infographics/ gifs or customising popular memes. Identifying emerging trends can help tailor marketing and sales strategies to address specific market demands effectively. The report can be used as a piece of downloadable collateral on your website, or as a handout at trade shows, or create a launch event and invite customers and journalists along to get exclusive access.

Pass it on to your sales team to arm them with unique insight into their target audience and allow them to use it as supporting material and/or talking points, enhancing their sales efforts. Create a video using the insights to demonstrate to future customers that you’re not only focused on selling your product or service, but that you’re invested in understanding your customers, the market AND how you’re forging ahead in the future.

Market Research provides independence

One of the most powerful advantages of performing your market research is that it provides your business with an independent method of forming your views on the state of a market. Market research offers independent insights crucial for understanding B2B buyers' attitudes, motivations, and behaviours.

You no longer rely on what the top publications might write or well-known influencers might say or what some of the big research houses (Gartner, Forrester, Ovum etc.) might publish. Yes, you can use those as references and compare how your results stack up, but who says you have to agree with them if your market research results provide an alternative point of view?

The results will also provide your PR partner with greater independence to perform to the best of their ability, freeing up your time in the process. Working alongside them on a research project from the outset allows them to use their knowledge of key media topics and feed these into the initial questions to make sure the results provide both industry insight and PR value. A delicate balance.

Quantitative research can play a significant role in understanding the latest market dynamics in your sector. Having prior knowledge of the questions being asked, the target audience and how large the project is will provide your PR partner with the opportunity to add their communications tactics to your wider marketing and sales strategy. Understanding the target market is essential for making informed business decisions and developing effective PR, Marketing and Sales strategies.

The benefits of using PR Market Research

By considering all aspects of PR, Marketing and Sales you should be able to create a holistic campaign (or number of campaigns) that includes all core communication channels - Paid, Earned, Shared and Owned. It will allow you to consider where your time and resources are best spent, and where your partners need to dedicate their resources. We haven’t even touched upon how the outputs from the report can be added to an SEO strategy!

The benefits of performing market research are widespread and so often much of the value is missed due to budget, resource, time, poor internal communications or the age-old internal divide between Marketing, Sales and PR.

It is an exciting time when you’re thinking about embarking on a market research campaign, but it will pay for itself three times over if you can make sure that you’re getting maximum value from it. A good research project should not just be seen as a PR tactic. It should be seen as a project that will permeate every aspect of the business. Looking at it this way will make you consider all the various channels (external as well as internal) where it can be used - and therefore ensuring maximum value is achieved. Your Market Research findings should guide strategic planning to attract your target market effectively and can be used to inform any future business decisions.

Tags: News, PR, Digital PR, ITPR