Research: Are You Asking the Right Questions?


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Research: Are You Asking the Right Questions?

  1. 1. Research Strategies + Measurement n e w s l e t t e r Published by Makovsky + Company Volume 24/Number 4 For more information on Makovsky + Company’s Research + Measurement Services, please visit the power of specialized thinking Research: Are You Asking the Right Questions? Say research to public relations people develop, communities form, and atti- and they think — well, you don’t know tudes become action? what they think because we use the term in so many ways. case: Science of Change Management A leading pharmaceutical company, created “Measurement” and “metrics” come to through a series of mergers, could see that mind. But if that’s the only focus, it may critical pieces of the organization were just explain why so many professionals that: pieces. Functions as vital as R&D still talk about research more than they reflected the structures, project portfolios and do it. It’s thought of as a report card, management attitudes of the pre-existing and everyone hates grades. companies. The company’s R&D leadership called us because they knew that unless So, stop! Think of research and they could get the senior team thinking and measurement as a GPS, and you acting as one, they’d never get that from have something entirely different: employees either. Guided by the founda- an essential guide for everything tional research of change management, you do and want to do better. It’s they moved aggressively to establish a vision how you align public relations and conduct intense global team building. with organizational priorities, set Every senior manager was trained to execute meaningful objectives, execute and the most important tenet of the program: measure the results — to continu- that leadership means communication. ously improve your program. FoundatIonal ReseaRch Best pRactIces and The multidimensional roles of research in This may seem highly theoretical to some BenchMaRkIng studIes our field include: practitioners. But beyond knowledge of psychology, sociology, economics and This kind of research helps us understand • Foundational research other relevant fields of study, there ex- important trends in public relations prac- • Best practices and benchmarking ists an enormous body of foundational tice and other factors that help answer studies research specific to our own field. Any these questions: • Initial or formative research public relations planning effort ought to • Measurement and evaluation include this core question: 1. What are other companies doing in similar situations? What follows is an explanation of each of • In situations like the one our organiza- 2. Will following the crowd work these — and how to integrate them into tion faces now, what does underlying here, or does our organization public relations practice. basic research say about how opinions need its own distinct path?
  2. 2. case: Follow or Lead? implement your program and measure the results — to under- Best practices studies of how corporations use social media have stand what’s been achieved and how to achieve more. generally shown consumer-oriented industries taking the lead and B2B industries taking the time to figure it out. As valuable as it is 1. What measures of success will demonstrate the return on this to know what other companies are doing, however, such research program? sometimes defines the innovator’s point of departure. A major 2. How will we use measurement and evaluation to keep improv- software company, despite its heavy focus on business markets, ing the program? decided to move ahead when the company started seeing its name appear in blogs. They knew they were being talked about case: Measurement That’s More Than Numbers and couldn’t wait any longer to see what their peers did. They Media measurement can mean counting clips, calculating expo- jumped in quickly and have since led their industry into blogs, sure and competitive share of coverage. But that doesn’t always YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. provide sufficient insight into the accuracy of coverage, which mes- sages are resonating, and how the tonality compares to competi- InItIal oR FoRMatIVe ReseaRch tors. A regional financial company used media content analysis not to look backward, but as a real-time metric for brand and repu- Now it gets organization-specific as you seek to answer tation risk. In a period when the company was dealing with much questions like: negative news, for example, they discovered that they actually got better treatment in new markets than in established markets, and 1. For the program we are creating, what critical pieces of could adjust media and marketing strategy in both. knowledge are available from existing sources, and where can we find them? 2. What additional knowledge do we need to develop through our services original research? 3. How will we use this formative research to set objectives, Makovsky + Company provides a variety of counseling strategies, tactics and messages that support desired services to help you understand and use research and business outcomes? measurement more effectively. These services include: case: When Research Becomes the Program Integration A global energy company wanted to raise the level of dialogue Integrating research and measurement into public with lawmakers, regulators, business and civic leaders. The com- relations planning and programming. pany president agreed to personally participate in town hall meet- Interpretation ings in 50 cities, a two-way communications opportunity marked Counseling senior communications executives by research at every stage. This included opinion surveys at the on interpretation, evaluation and communication of beginning, midpoint and end of the campaign to track attitudes research results. on energy issues and the company’s reputation. But the town halls themselves were an element of the research, an opportunity to education gather and compile public ideas on energy security. This input was Building necessary research skills and knowledge within summarized in a final report distributed to all participants and key your public relations staff. policymakers, and used by the company to hone its messages. Vendor Management MeasuReMent and eValuatIon Identifying requirements, developing the RFP, support- ing the client in hiring and managing research vendors. Having laid the groundwork with research, you’re ready to About Makovsky + Company Founded in 1979, Makovsky + Company ( is today one of the nation’s lead- ing independent global public relations and investor relations consultancies. The firm attributes its success to its original vision: that the Power of Specialized Thinking™ is the best way to build reputation, sales and fair valuation for a client. Based in New York City, the firm has agency part- ners in more than 27 countries and in 37 U.S. cities through IPREX, the second largest worldwide public relations agency partnership. Makovsky is co-founder of Interraction, a consortium of experts working together to address the risks and opportunities presented by climate change. 1 6 e a s t 3 4 t h s t R e e t, n e W Y o R k , n Y 1 0 0 1 6 Contact Frank ovaitt t: 212.508.9600 F: 212.751.9710 executive Vice president, Research + Measurement W W W . M a k o V s k Y. c o M 703.568.5611 Stevie Awards 2009 PR Agency of the Year Pantone 5405 C Pantone 604 C Holmes Report 2009 Multispecialist Agency of the Year