Public relations professionals often make the mistake of shaping campaigns based on rules of thumb, hunches and past experiences. While application of this logic can be helpful in some instances, there is no one‐size‐fits‐all when it comes to drafting an effective PR strategy. This is because no single audience is exactly the same as another.“In order to effectively communicate, it is imperative for organizations to truly understand who the audience is that they are trying to reach, and that's where research comes in,” says Interim Dean of Edward R. Murrow College of Communication (Pullman, WA) Bruce Pinkleton. “Essentially, the more you know about your audience, the more likely you are to be successful.”While broad statistical analyses may prove beneficial in collecting specific information and campaign metrics for wide‐ranging audiences, other common methods involving less formal procedures, such as focus groups and surveys, can be used to obtain the qualitative data that drives powerful, personalized PR campaigns. “These intimate feedback sessions can be especially informative when dealing with niche segments with highly specific needs,” Pinkleton says. “In PR, we want big media pushes, but if you're working with a specialized niche, you might be better off targeting a smaller pool of outlets. Learn about the media they know and trust, as well as the go‐tos for their associations, and let that inform your strategy.”When determining which type of research method to apply, consider how to reap the most applicable data as it relates to:The context of the campaign.The sample segment.The turnaround time for collection and application of data.What you already know about your audience or its competition.The goals and objectives of the PR campaign.“Research allows the PR professional to tailor communications based on their understanding of the audience's motivations, how they get their information and the outcomes they expect,” Pinkleton says. “Knowing these facts will allow you to drill in on the relationship that already exists between you and your audience.”While Pinkleton does not discount the importance of qualitative research, he recommends balancing any project with quantitative data that seeks to uncover the unique needs of the individual. “We've issued very small surveys known as panel designs that go to our expert audience members,” Pinkleton says. “This helps us collect initial information that reveals baseline expectations and provides us with a collective of voices who we can revisit with future tasks, questions and assignments that help us dive deeper into their psyche.”Only after you've identified your audience can you select your tools for engagement. Your PR strategy should reflect the goals and tactics you've established, based on the research you've conducted. “A successful PR campaign will resonate with your audience and uncover clear ways to continue the relationship going forward,” Pinkleton says.Source: Bruce Pinkleton, Interim Dean, Edward R. Murrow College of Communication, Washington State University, Pullman, WA. Phone (509) 335‐2795. E‐mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: www.wsu.edu
Nonprofit Communications Report – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 2018
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