Ganapathy Viswanathan
Guest Article

The vital role of strategy-led research in crafting effective PR campaigns

Our guest author delves into the data-driven evolution of PR, shedding light on how insights can reshape brand narratives.

I always keep wondering how much research one uses while developing a PR campaign. We all know research is the backbone of any brand campaign be it Advertising or PR.

While advertising uses it extensively to cull out the insights, PR has not taken a deep dive into research for the messaging and PR strategy for their various campaigns.

Research is still in its early stages when you think of PR. There is no separate research undertaken for PR campaigns. Invariably the research available which is done for advertising is leveraged by the PR team to create their campaigns.

I would urge all PR consultancy firms to lay more emphasis on research to get those key insights for sharper messaging.

While the importance of research is gathering momentum for PR campaigns, in most cases, there is no in-depth research undertaken. Insights based on the brainstorming and messaging workshops are by and large considered to arrive and craft the messages.

But with so much technology in use like the ML and AI tools brands today are deploying these tools to do research and can see the benefits slowly. Agencies need to adapt and adopt new technology and use them for research purposes.

Without research public relations would not be able to present the correct picture. To get your strategy right and focussed you need a strong backing of research to work on a strategy-led PR campaign.

We are today in the days of presenting transparent and authentic narratives of a brand which is where the use of research will strengthen one’s case.

Here are my views on how research should be leveraged and how research can drive that extra push in getting your PR strategy bang on. These will also raise the bar of PR as a communication tool in the overall marketing strategy of the brand.

1. First and foremost, data through research will help you substantiate your case and will help you to make a strong case with the journalist when you pitch for your story.

2. In any brand communication activity getting your target audience right is always a challenge. Here research will help you understand your audience well and you can accordingly perfectly create your messaging.

3. Research does not always mean that you need to do structured research. A market visit and keeping your ears to the ground can also help in gathering good information for you to formulate your PR strategy.

4. Well-supported research findings will always help in building credibility. After all, PR is all about building credibility and trust.

5. The most important attribute of research is that it will throw tons of data which at some point is irrelevant. But this is where you need to learn the art and science of reading between the lines and also using the latest in technology to decipher the findings.

6. One must look at research as an investment for the brand. If you need to do separate research for the PR campaign, please do not hesitate to commission that. Always look at research as long-term, as some of the findings can be the property of the brand from a long-term aspect.

7. Your research will deliver the right answers if you can craft the right questions. So, framing your questions and what to ask is critical while working on your research exercise.

8. Ideally, a PR consultancy should have a strong research cell to work with the teams across brands and the country. In my opinion, having a strong repository of research findings like Wikipedia will help in going back to check your facts about your brands.

9. Most clients today are open to doing research provided it is done professionally and with well-defined objectives and purpose which will only help you to get the desired findings and help the brand in devising a strong PR strategy.

10. Research is more important in smaller towns where there is a shift in the behaviour as compared to the metros. You deal with different cultures so it is important to know the local nuances through research and its insights to develop your PR strategy.

A thorough knowledge of research methods and extensive analysis of data will allow Public Relations practitioners to add more value to their clients’ businesses.

There is no shortcut in research and if you need to present a good story about your client’s brand. It is research that will excite journalists to go deep and bring out eye-catching stories.

We should also remember once a journalist gets from you strong research-based facts and figures you will be in his good books and that way you can strengthen and build your relationships with your journalists.

(Our guest author is Ganapathy Viswanathan, independent communication consultant.)

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