Get PR Smart Recap: Give Your Campaign an Edge with Research

The Get PR Smart series in September, “Give Your Campaign an Edge with Research,” was a panel discussion which brought together a diverse panel of Washington communication specialists who use research to inform planning, understand audience actions, and measure campaign impact.

Panelists were:

  • Lou Aronson, Foudner and CEO, Votifi
  • Kil-Jae Hong, Marketing Specialist, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
  • Michael Joshi, Communications Specialist, Legacy
  • Ashlee Rich Stephenson, Partner, New Strategies Group
  • Sparky Zivin, Director, Brunswick Group

The discussion was moderated by Sue Zoldak, VP, Adfero Group.

Key takeaways from the discussion:

Be a compelling storyteller, not just the guy with the data.

Sparky Zivin from Brunswick Group explained that we’re experiencing data overload. There’s more data these days because people have more ways to tell us things, and they are doing just that through social media, personalized online communities, and even advanced technologies like biofeedback. Because of this data overload, you need to find a way to tell your story with your data. In a data-saturated world, your clients will appreciate your use of creative infographics or new tools like website eye-tracking to visualize your data.

Adapting your research strategy to include new tools and technologies will bring credibility for your campaign or program ... Suzanne Zurn

Know your audience.

Kil-Jae Hong from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) presented research findings from the testing NHTSA did on their Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving campaign. Testing revealed that the original creative that NHTSA developed resonated with the target audiences, but did not have staying power to make them stop drinking and driving. They found that the messaging that resonated most with women revolved around the safety of others. Men were most affected by messaging that revealed the cost of getting a DUI. With a better understanding of their audience, NHTSA was able to create a campaign was more effective because it specifically targeted its audience by gender.

Votifi CEO Lou Aronson reiterated the importance of knowing your audience with an anecdote about Walmart stores moving beer displays to the diaper aisle every night at 10:30. It doesn’t take an experienced researcher to realize why this technique is effective.

Use every tool in the research toolbox to grow your campaigns and give them validity.

Michael Joshi from Legacy, the not-for-profit public health foundation responsible for the Truth andex anti-smoking campaigns says that using a multi-armed research approach will bring the most success to your campaign. Don’t just rely on one type of research to get the best answer—use surveys, focus groups, peer-reviewed studies, website analytics, field research, and whatever else you can get your hands on. Adapting your research strategy to include new tools and technologies will bring credibility for your campaign or program and help you uncover potential media hooks and new angles.

Similarly, Ashlee Rich Stephenson from New Strategies Group warned that you shouldn’t let findings from just one research tool completely dictate your campaign. Don’t rely on the results from one poll, survey, or focus group to direct your campaign—look at the big picture and conduct testing over time.

Join me October 26 to learn about blogger relations.

The next Get PR Smart event, Mastering Blogger Relations, is Friday, October 26. I hope to see you for that session, which will help both pros and newcomers learn how to approach media relations in a digital world. You’ll learn about the best tools to help navigate the blogosphere, how to target the right blogger, write relevant pitches, and craft the best message for an online audience. to register and to learn more about the series.

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