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Research is conducted in many different professions. In this lesson, we will learn about research in public relations and why it is important for both the company and the public.

Public Relations Research

Many of us have done research at one time in our lives. It may have been for a class in school, or perhaps it was for a job we held at one time.

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Either way, the goal was to find information that would be helpful and answer questions. While research is done in a variety of settings and for a variety of reasons, one important field of research is that of public relations. You see, public relations is the act of communicating to the public in order to create an acceptable image of the company in which you are working for. This means a public relations professional needs to understand what the public considers an acceptable image, which is often done through research. In this lesson, we will learn how public relations research can benefit a company.

Types of Research

We all know companies want to attract and retain customers.

But, what we probably do not think much about is the process in which a company accomplishes this. So, what are they types of research a public relations professional might use? What are the differences between each type? Lets take a look at some of the different research methods.Applied research is the type of research used to find answers to a problem or a specific question. Finding that answer directly affects our lives and the world around us.

For example, doing research on which school offers the best financial aid package is applied research because knowing the answer to that question is beneficial to others that are considering attending school.Theoretical research, also known as basic research, is centered on curiosity. For instance, conducting research to see how fresh your sandwich is after four days in the refrigerator is theoretical research. This is because, while the information may be beneficial to you so you do not waste food, it is not information that impacts the world.Quantitative research is research that can accurately be measured.

For example, we can accurately measure how many dogs get adopted from shelters each year. A great way to remember quantitative research is to think of the word ‘quantity,’ which indicates how many.Qualitative research is research that is not accurately measured. This is because it is not possible to come up with an accurate number. Qualitative research focuses on the quality and opinions of something. For example, doing research to determine how someone feels about owning a dog. This is a matter of opinion rater than actual numerical values.

Importance of Research

But why should public relations departments do research? In truth, there are numerous reasons that research is important for companies, and in this section, we’ll learn why and how that research helps gain and maintain customer acceptance.First, is avoiding biased opinions. Without research, a company has to rely on their own opinions of what customers want and how they feel. This means they are essentially using a biased view in order to make company decisions, which ultimately may not help their public image.

With research, a company can obtain a realistic view of how the public and customers currently feel about their company. For example, a company might send out a survey to their customers in order to see what they like about the company and areas in which the company can improve.From time to time, a company creates a public relations plan in order to reach out to the public. This plan often involves a message they want to portray to the public. In order to deliver what customers and the public want to hear, a company needs to do research. It is also a valuable tool to discover the media outlets both current and potential customers use so that a company can reach out to the largest audience possible.

An example might be to poll the average age of a company’s customers, then conduct research on what types of media that particular age group relies on. A younger crowd is probably more in tune with social media, while an older generation might prefer newspapers or radio advertisement.It is important to get feedback. A company cannot make changes or improvements if they are not aware of what areas need to be improved.

In order to identity where changes need to be made, research is often conducted. This means understanding whether objectives and goals were met so that a company can decide if the public relations plan should be continued or whether the company should create a new one. For example, if your plan was to host an open house in order to advertise your new business and only three people showed up, it’s likely a new plan needs to be created because the objectives and goals were not met.Before a company can create and act on a public relations plan, they need to understand crucial details known as the strategy. These details range from eliminating costs, targeting the right audience, knowing how to effectively communicate, and doing enough research to know and understand what is happening in the industry in which the company you work for operates. An example might be to set a budget, set up a venue that will reach your target audience, and be up to date with industry standards.If a public relations professional does enough research, they will have the knowledge to back up any claims they make.

So if you work as a public relations employee, and you state that your company is the only one to offer a specific product, doing research will help you not only truthfully make that statement, but have enough information to support it and prove your claim.It is no secret that the more knowledge you have, the better decisions you can make. The same is true for those in public relations. You want your company and the public to trust that you know what you are doing and that you will act in the best interest of all those involved. So, if a company is introducing a product that may not be intended for small children, it would be a good decision to indicate this to the public.

Lesson Summary

Research helps us to find information. This is important to those in the public relations industry because their job is to create a likable image of their company to the public.

In order to do so, they need to do research to understand what is a likable image. Public relations departments can use either applied research, where specific answers are answered, or theoretical research, which attempts to answer theories and curiosities. This research can be backed up with qualitative research, which is data provided by opinions and feelings, or quantitative research, which is measurable data. Some important reasons why a public relations professional should conduct business is because it:

  • Avoids a biased view
  • Helps create a better public relations plan and message
  • Helps with feedback
  • Helps form strategies
  • Allows ways to backup claims
  • Is important to make good decisions
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