n e w s l e t t e r
Published by Makovsky + Company Volume 24/Number 4
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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?
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
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-
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
on energy issues and the company’s reputation. But the town halls
themselves were an element of the research, an opportunity to
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.
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 (www.makovsky.com) 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
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