Want to Drum Up Some PR? Try a Survey.

July 17, 2015 AJ Bruno: Founder, President

surveyIn the PR world, the old adage “No news is good news,” doesn’t ring true. Brands need a news hook to catch the attention of journalists and garner earned media. But brands don’t release new products, achieve milestones or have other newsworthy accomplishments every week. What’s a PR pro to do? One option is to create some news yourself by commissioning or conducting a survey.

Select a Compelling Topic

It is important to choose a subject for your survey that is likely to be of interest to your audience, but that isn’t already over exposed. Consider topics related to:

  • New trends in your industry
  • Changing customer buying habits related to the products your customers sell
  • The impact of technology on your industry
  • Projected future purchasing
  • Buyer pain points and challenges

Preference should be given to topics that can be revisited once or twice a year to chart changes over time. Your survey should seek to tell you something that you don’t already know, but keep in mind this is all about storytelling, so you want to think about how the survey will support the story of your brand.

Choose the Format

There are a couple of ways you could approach the execution of your survey:

Professional Survey Firm – There are organizations that provide market research development and execution services. These organizations often have access to extensive databases of potential survey respondents. They also can provide expertise for generating the questions and analyzing the results. Using a 3rd party firm can also lend a level of credibility if you chose to co-publish results. Of course, this does require an investment. The cost will vary based on the length of the survey and number of respondents required.

In-house – If you can’t afford a market research firm, you can still conduct a survey to support your PR efforts. There are many free or inexpensive tools, such as Survey Monkey, that let you create and host your own surveys. You can invite your audience to participate via email and your social media channels. Your customers and prospects are a great source of potential respondents.

Pro Tip: Something we've found that gives us quick supporting data, and even ideas for posts, is to use a polling tool like Qualaroo or Hotjar on our website, and even in-product. It's not statistically relevant data, but is good for taking a quick pulse and sometimes offers surprising insights.

Analyze the Results

Once your survey is complete, the critical analysis phase begins. Start by reviewing the aggregate responses to each question. Look for points that support the storyline you initially envisioned when choosing your topic. Next, segment the results to potentially reveal interesting differences based on the demographics or firmographics of your respondents. Does industry, geography, company size, gender, or age make a difference?

Craft Your Content and Your Pitch

Now you are ready to pull it all together. The survey results can be used for a press release, e-book, Slideshare, blog and social media posts. In order for it to be the most effective, be sure to:

  • Come up with a compelling title
  • Include charts, graphs, and tables or create an infographic
  • Include details about the methodology, audience profile, and size

So what do you do when there is no news? Make some - with a survey designed to offer readers objective insight into a subject of interest. 


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