Why Research is Important for Public Relations Strategies and Tactics

The number of benefits that conducting research can potentially give to businesses is nearly immeasurable, although to management it can be completely measurable by financial gains.

Imagine, a company that is working on its next “big, profitable idea.” Now imagine, that that same company is currently developing a device that was actually designed a decade ago and then flopped on the market once it was released. Hence why the idea seemed “new.” These are the cases that are full of wasted time and money that could have been prevented by doing preliminary research before going forward with a product. 

Of course, preliminary research can be applied to much more than preventative tactics, as they could have been in the example above. General research on what other businesses are doing is also an important strategy to take – get ahead of the competition, improve on what they are doing; see what customers are paying the most attention to, see what sustainable/environmental changes customers are caring about, see what customers are writing as reviews or comments – any secondary research that can be found online that can prove helpful, the list goes on. 

The Global Public Relations Handbook: Theory, Research, and Practise (2008) introduces the world of applied public relations as something that requires “a comprehensive body of knowledge” because those who use it can “greatly benefit by increasing their knowledge of global public relations concepts and practices.” 

By looking at what the entire world is both doing and looking at, businesses can more easily attempt to be “trending,” or increasingly popular worldwide. For instance, someone trying to make a compelling advertisement might try looking at what their competitor is doing because the competitor’s tactics may be working (or not) for a reason. 

Because “trending topics” exist and because humans are constantly changing, public relations research is made complex. As is anything once you add humans. Research assistant Christian Wiencierz and professor Ulrike Röttger from the University of Münster, in their shared article (2019), suggest that while some blanket analytical strategies work, most research should be made constant due to the constant change that happens. For example, a company could easily tweet out every Wednesday, “#WednesdayMotivation.” But not so consistently is something like “#SaveTheWater” trending, where a company could showcase their care with a mention that they help to reduce waste to water. 

The questions “what’s trending?” and “what research have you done today?” are synonymous when being asked to a public relations manager. And this can even be added to the new modern way for business to advertise in addition to gaining a leg up on the competition. 

Websites like RiteTag.com can be extremely useful to businesses when they want to dive into the small communities that exist online. As a sample, if one were to type “womens fashion” (with no apostrophe) into the RiteTag search engine, a list and cloud of hashtags to add to tweets and Instagram posts are laid out in order of keyword relevance. 

The RiteTag list also gives you a look at how popular each tag is and then after the list, there is also a word cloud that is created, with each term labeled by view rates and can be manipulated by focus. Tools and resources like this allow businesses to both post online more successfully and help businesses learn more about their target audience/customer.

Overall, the amount of research that can be done, all of the potential uses, the channels that can be taken (and impossible to exhaust), public relations can truly be a nonstop job if one wants it to be. And after writing this, research may be the heart of what public relations is. To be constantly staying on top of the game, it requires one to know exactly what the game currently looks like. 

RiteTag. (n.d.). Popular hashtags for womensfashion on Twitter and Instagram. Retrieved from https://ritetag.com/best-hashtags-for/womensfashion 

Sriramesh, K., & Vercic, D. (Eds.). (2008). The Global Public Relations Handbook: Theory, Research, and Practise.

Wiencierz, C., & Röttger, U. (2019). Big Data in Public Relations: A Conceptual Framework. Public Relations Journal, 12(3). Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Christian_Wiencierz/publication/333220279_Big_Data_in_Public_Relations_A_Conceptual_Framework/links/5ce2a51e458515712eb6f53e/Big-Data-in-Public-Relations-A-Conceptual-Framework.pdf 

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