Public Release Studies: Advice for the PR Team
Just back from LIMRA’s 2017 Marketing and Research Conference, I am happy to report a successful and productive “meeting of the minds” from both the Marketing Side and the Research Side of this uniquely blended gathering of financial services professionals.
No matter what some may say, research is not part and parcel of marketing. Nor should it be. We have different skills and perspectives, and we are grounded in different disciplines.
Versta Research presented at this conference. Our focus was on Finding Stories: Building Better Research for PR Campaigns. We offered a “how to” on designing surveys that ensure compelling stories regardless of how the data falls out. The presentation ended with five tips for the PR side, and five tips for the research side of a campaign. So in case you missed the conference or our presentation, here is a summary of advice for the PR team:
- Pre-pitch your ideas. As you begin to develop the general idea of a campaign, reach out to your closest media contacts and find out what they want to learn. Let them know you are investing in a rigorous survey effort. Ask them to articulate a few questions that you can build into the survey right up front.
- Write dream headlines. Think about where you want to end up. Envision the media coverage and the headlines. Pretend you are writing your press release. Write out six to eight Dream Headlines with sub-headlines, and even make up some supporting data to help. Dream headlines are absolutely the best way to help the research team understand your goals in deploying a survey.
- Avoid survey questions. The flip side of writing dream headlines is to not write survey questions. Survey questions are merely tools to get data points and statistics to substantiate your headlines. Writing survey questions can be fun, but survey questions will never be a story. Getting too focused on them will distract you from the outcomes you need.
- Let go of the research. Of course ultimately you need surveys, as it is the primary tactic of your campaign. But you can (and should) hand the responsibility of design over to your research team. Trust them to develop a clever and rigorous tool that will deliver data for a story akin to what you envision in your dream headlines.
- Ask for validation. Any good research team, and any decent third party vendor, will happily review press releases, white papers, infographics, and any other materials you develop for your campaign. They will double check every number against the data (again!), and assess every statement for accuracy and truthfulness. Ask them to do this!
Next week we’ll offer a summary of our advice for the Research team—advice that will have you expertly turning data into stories that will help your PR team succeed like never before.