The agency PR game is all about reaching an audience: an influencer, a target customer, another business in a given industry. It’s getting the attention of someone who may be interested in your client and fostering a relationship between the two. Of course, if it was that simple, the job would be a pretty easy one, wouldn’t it? But keeping your fingers on the pulse of your target audiences is a tricky proposition, constantly beset by changing industries, breaking news and audiences that shift from one message or platform to another before you know it.

Market Research Word CloudSo, what better way to dig into what your audiences really want than by simply asking them directly?

That is essentially what research is all about – and it’s exactly why tech PR agencies that integrate a research-driven approach into their PR campaigns can so often produce winning strategies for clients. But before you take the research plunge, take a moment to ask yourself these five questions first:

Is research actually the right direction?

Your first step is determining whether or not research would actually be a worthwhile approach for a particular client or campaign strategy. Conducting research is a targeted effort, and it only really works if there’s a targeted benefit to come from it. Set your objective and write it out clearly so you know exactly what you want. Determine if what you need to know about a certain audience or trend hasn’t been done before and, if it has, if it’s unique enough to stand apart from other surveys. Make sure that the topics you’re focusing on are trend-based and challenge your audience. There needs to be a potential for yielding useful data to launch a client campaign – without that, you’re just wasting your time. Speaking of which…

Can I invest the time and resources into a long-term research campaign?

Conducting research means playing the long game. Regardless of how much time you have a survey in the field, turning that data around into actionable headlines to spearhead a new client campaign takes time; you’re not going to flip the raw data into press-worthy insights overnight. Research is an investment, and an appreciation for the process is key. Don’t set yourself up to fail by placing too-close deadlines on yourself.

What tools or tests am I using to conduct this research?

Once you have your objective and know who you want to target, you’ll need to identify next just how you want to get those results. Surveys are the bread and butter of research, but you can take it a step further with message testing to gauge demographics and focus groups to determine real-world responses beyond what a survey can tell you. Perhaps more than anything else, the most important tool you can invest in on this front is a research analyst. Having a specialized data guru on hand who can interpret the data and generate your key findings makes all the difference in whether or not your research will pay off.

Do I have the PR resources in place to capitalize on the research?

Conducting research is a wasted effort if you don’t have anything in place to act on it later. Make sure you have the appropriate PR resources pulled together so that you can distill key findings from the research – and a healthy amount of stats to back them up – into pitches, contributed content and other media opportunities. You can then leverage this collateral to broadcast the research results and net new coverage from journalists and customers. Many agencies and organizations also use research to fuel demand generation programs and create assets including ebooks, infographics and email campaigns. This is an integrated effort that requires content and digital experts.

With the research campaign over – what’s next?

So you’ve leveraged your research findings into a client campaign, scored a ton of media opportunities, secured some high-tier coverage as well, established new crucial journalist relationships…you’re all done now, right? Just the opposite! Research doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and just because one campaign is over, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t continue to leverage those findings into future campaigns for that client. The more targeted you can get with your demographics and messaging, the better your outreach around those future campaigns will be.

Clients and tech PR agencies are more data-driven than ever before; integrating research into your PR programs puts you on equal footing with competitors and raises your profile in the industry.

Evolution of Content Marketing, PR and BloggingIn The Evolution of PR, Content Marketing and Blogging, we cover:

  • The ongoing changes in the world of PR
  • The principles of content marketing for tech companies
  • Important blogging strategies
  • How to use press releases for more than just brand-building