Why Are We So Confused About Research?

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Institute for Public Relations President & CEO Frank Ovaitt presented this lecture to public relations research students at the University of Florida. Exploring the role research plays in the communications field, he discusses how standards can benefit the practice.

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  • In situations like the one our organization faces now , what does underlying basic research say about how opinions develop, communities form, and attitudes become action?What are other organizations doing in similar situations? Will following the crowd work here, or does our organization need its own distinct path?For the program we are creating, what critical pieces of knowledge are available from existing sources, and where can we find them? What additional knowledge do we need to develop through original research? How will we use this formative research to set objectives, strategies, tactics and messages that support desired business outcomes?No mystery what to measure at this point. But how will we use the results to keep improving the program?
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  • Member organizationsSocial Media Measurement ConclaveCouncil of Public Relations FirmsGlobal AllianceInstitute for Public RelationsInternational Association for Measurement and Evaluation of CommunicationsPublic Relations Society of America… and now ABERJE, the Brasilioan public relations association
  • A published spec that establishes common languageTech specification or other precise criteria to be used consistently as rule or definitionEnable comparison, increased reliability, greater efficiencyFoster competition, innovation
  • Member organizationsSocial Media Measurement ConclaveCouncil of Public Relations FirmsGlobal AllianceInstitute for Public RelationsInternational Association for Measurement and Evaluation of CommunicationsPublic Relations Society of America… and now ABERJE, the Brasilioan public relations associationMember
  • Why Are We So Confused About Research?

    1. 1. Copyright © 2014 by The Institute for Public Relations Why Are We So Confused About Research? Frank Ovaitt, President and CEO frank@instituteforpr.org @FrankIPR #i4pr
    2. 2. Copyright © 2014 by The Institute for Public Relations About the Institute • An independent foundation dedicated to the science beneath the art of public relations™ – Supporting PR research – Focused on research that matters to the practice • Not a membership-based model – supported by program revenues and generous contributions • All research and publications are free to the profession, educators and students at www.instituteforpr.org • Sign up there for free email research letter • Find IPR group on LinkedIn
    3. 3. Copyright © 2014 by The Institute for Public Relations Board of Trustees reflects our field CO-CHAIR Ken Makovsky Makovsky BOARD OF TRUSTEES Adele Ambrose Merck Tim Baxter Standard Chartered Bruce Berger University of Alabama Amy Binder RF/Binder Partners S. Keith Burton Brunswick Group Rob Clark Medtronic Julie Craven Hormel Foods Peter Debreceny Gagen MacDonald Tracy Faulkner Shell Oil Michael Fernandez Cargill Rob Flaherty Ketchum Terry Flynn McMaster University CO-CHAIR Oscar Suris Wells Fargo Patrick Ford Burson-Marsteller Matt Gonring Retired, Jackson Gary Grates W2O Group Chris Graves Ogilvy Public Relations Mark Hass Edelman William Heyman Heyman Associates Richard Jones Guardian Life Mark Kaplan Mosaic Margery Kraus APCO Worldwide Brian Lott Mubadala Rainer Mathes PRIME Research Thomas Mattia Edelman . TREASURER Gary Sheffer General Electric Tina McCorkindale Appalachian State Univ Jack Modzelewski FleishmanHillard Juan-Carlos Molleda University of Florida Torod Neptune Verizon Wireless Douglas Pinkham Public Affairs Council Andrew Polansky Weber Shandwick Jennifer Prosek Prosek Partners Linda Rutherford Southwest Airlines James Simon Consultant James Spangler Navistar Don W. Stacks University of Miami Kirk Stewart APCO Worldwide PRESIDENT & CEO Frank Ovaitt Institute for Public Relations Michael Stewart Edelman Patricia Stortz AT&T Wendi Strong USAA Stephen Thomas AIA Group Rick White WE Energies Donald K. Wright Boston University HONORARY TRUSTEES Don Bates Media Distribution Services Bill Nielsen Retired, Johnson & Johnson Ward White Edelman Lou Williams Retired, The Lou Williams Companies
    4. 4. Copyright © 2014 by The Institute for Public Relations Three kinds (or more?) of research* • Research used in public relations – To guide and evaluate communications programs – In other words, planning research and measurement • Research on public relations – To understand what we do and how we do it – Benchmarking, best practices and the business of public relations • Research for public relations – Our basic research and social science underpinnings – Often borrowed from other fields *Props to Dr. James E Grunig
    5. 5. Copyright © 2014 by The Institute for Public Relations IPR’s priority research topics 1. What drives choice and changes behavior? 2. Organizational communication 3. Broader context for social networking and what it means 4. Restoring reputation in an environment of extremely low trust 5. Models to predict the probability of public relationship outcomes 6. Broad standards platform for public relations research and measurement
    6. 6. Copyright © 2014 by The Institute for Public Relations Coalition for Public Relations Research Standards David Geddes, Ph.D., Chair www.instituteforpr.org/researchstandards/
    7. 7. Copyright © 2014 by The Institute for Public Relations • Coalition for Public Relations Research Standards • Social Media Measurement Standards Conclave Who?
    8. 8. Copyright © 2014 by The Institute for Public Relations Excellence in public relations practice is enabled by excellence in public relations research. Excellence in research and measurement requires widely accepted professional standards to ensure research and measurement are reliable, valid and consistent.
    9. 9. Copyright © 2014 by The Institute for Public RelationsCopyright © 2014 by The Institute for Public Relations • “We can't afford dueling measurement systems anymore… develop standard definitions and metrics now or be left behind” • “Create a standard measurement system across all programs/campaigns to deliver consistent, comparable data” • Industry experts must take the lead in developing standards, but customer ultimately ordains a standard Customer frustration and role in standards
    10. 10. Copyright © 2014 by The Institute for Public Relations What we mean by standards and why they are valuable • A published spec – Establishes common language – Tech specification or other precise criteria – Used consistently as rule or definition • Common language for comparison, increased reliability, greater efficiency • Foster competition, innovation • Better measurement raises credibility
    11. 11. Copyright © 2014 by The Institute for Public Relations From ISO • “A standard … provides requirements, specifications, guidelines or characteristics that can be used consistently to ensure that materials, products, processes and services are fit for their purpose” • A published spec that establishes common language • Standards can be definitions, metrics, processes, protocols or guidelines • ISO examples include food safety, quality management, corporate social responsibility, market research
    12. 12. Copyright © 2014 by The Institute for Public Relations Our six-stage process based on ISO recommendations 1. Proposal stage – Identify areas where standards are needed 2. Development stage – Technical experts draft proposed interim standards – Posted for review to broaden, deepen, revise draft – Successive drafts until working group is satisfied that it has developed the best technical solution 3. Customer panel approval – Final arbiter of when proposed standard is ready – Panel will include about six or more corporations, major purchasers of PR research and measurement
    13. 13. Copyright © 2014 by The Institute for Public Relations Six-stage process based on ISO recommendations 4. Publication – Publish as interim standards – Application begins though process continues 5. Validation – Most standards require validation to prove that they actually measure what they say they do – When relevance and effectiveness are established, published as final standards 6. Review and revision – Most standards require periodic revision due to changes in technology and public relations practice You are here! Copyright © 2013 Institute for Public Relations
    14. 14. Copyright © 2014 by The Institute for Public Relations Initial members of the customer panel
    15. 15. Copyright © 2014 by The Institute for Public Relations • Traditional media measurement • Digital and social media measurement • Communications lifecycle (awareness, knowledge, intent, preference and advocacy) • Return on investment Delivered interim standards for adoption
    16. 16. Copyright © 2014 by The Institute for Public Relations Return on Investment (ROI) standard • ROI is a financial measure that should only be used where both money invested (the “I”) and money earned or saved (the “R”) can be measured in financial terms • ROI should not be used when referring to results of non- financial measures • Total return on PR is both financial and intangible
    17. 17. Copyright © 2014 by The Institute for Public Relations How everybody can get involved • Review, comment on proposed and interim standards at www.instituteforpr.org/researchstandards • Expand the number of organizations in the Coalition • Commit to the standards
    18. 18. Copyright © 2014 by The Institute for Public Relations Resources Coalition for Public Relations Research Standards www.instituteforpr.org/researchstandards Social Media Measurement Conclave www.smmstandards.com Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communications http://amecorg.com Dictionary of Public Relations Measurement and Research http://www.instituteforpr.org/topics/dictionary-of-public- relations-measurement-and-research
    19. 19. Copyright © 2014 by The Institute for Public Relations Final thought: You can have a nice PR career clearing up confusion about “research” Frank Ovaitt frank@instituteforpr.org @FrankIPR Sign up for research letter at www.instituteforpr.org

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