As PR professionals, it’s not just our job to secure clients great coverage, it’s to help them become known as experts in their industry. We have many tools in our arsenal to help them do this, but research reports often don’t get the respect they deserve.
I’ve written many reports in my time (well, just two but I’m feeling optimistic!) and they can make the centerpiece of a highly successful PR campaign.
There’s a tendency in the industry to make big claims for our clients – that’s what creates news. However, until we can back them up with insight and evidence, they will only ever be opinions.
Show me the data
Data is the currency of credibility.
We may live in a post-truth era, but humans - journalists included - are still very much enlightenment creatures. We like big claims to be substantiated with evidence, proven with empirical proof.
As anyone who has ever pitched a journalist can tell you, client messaging gets short shrift unless you have something to back it up. Contrary to what the internet might say, nobody actually wants to publish ‘fake news’.
An original piece of research, commissioned or done in-house, can have great results. If data is what the media respects, then reports deliver it in spades!
A single campaign, based around a piece of research, not only drives coverage but pegs your client as a thought leader. It won’t happen overnight, but in time journalists will start to see your client as a go-to for insight into their industry.
Don’t get me wrong, the data has to be interesting! You won’t set the world on fire with research showing that youngsters spend too much time on their phones.
Boring questions get boring answers, so it’s important to think carefully about the questions you are asking and the kind of findings you want to produce.
Work closely with the research house you’ve commissioned to ensure your questionnaire opens as many avenues as possible. Each question you pose should warrant its own news story and give the respondent many ways to express themselves.
Use every part of the buffalo
Compared to other content types (I’m looking at you, press releases…) research reports offer a lot of mileage. From the initial announcement release to a supporting program of blogs and bylines, a single report provides a long tail of content that will keep you busy - and the coverage flowing - for weeks.
The best thing is, once your client has data to offer, it’s there to use whenever the opportunity strikes. Next time a massive news story breaks and every PR on the planet is pitching in, the insight your client can provide will steal them the limelight.
Data drives discussions and creates credibility. Once your client has put out a good piece of original research, they’re on their way to being a bona fide thought leader. So why not recommend a report next time you’re speaking to them?
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