Many tech PR pros count strategy and storytelling as the most valuable skills in their field. However, you can’t put those skills to use without a foundation of relevant information to help break through all of the noise and truly tell the story that you are setting out to tell.
One way to build that foundation is through mediagenic research, providing the original concrete statistics that reporters and readers yearn for. By analyzing a client’s competitive landscape, benchmarking their current positioning and testing strategy and concepts, launching a research report not only positions a client as a thought leader in their industry, but it also allows PR professionals to provide their clients with a more tailored promotional campaign that speaks directly to today’s marketplace challenges and demands.
While research reports and the results they provide are extremely valuable on their own, a lot of additional time and strategy goes into a successful campaign. After working on a recent research launch, I thought I’d share a few things that I have learned:
It is important to start with the end goal in mind. Determining the story that you want to communicate through the research results will help make sure you are asking the right questions to begin with. This is not to say that you are planting specific questions in an effort to get a certain response, but it’s helpful to think in terms of headlines and how you’d like to see the story of your research laid out in a piece of coverage.
Work with a research firm and analyst
These days, there are various methods of conducting research available, including many free DIY survey tools. However, as industry research becomes more prevalent, there is something to be said for surveys completed with a reputable research firm that can validate their procedure, participant base, and, most importantly, guarantee a robust response rate.
Moreover, if you work with an analyst who knows how to look at raw data and pull out meaningful insights, you will be able to get the most value from your results. The benefits of working with a research firm and an analyst from the beginning often outweigh the potential added cost.
Have a distribution strategy
A lot of coordination and effort goes into collecting survey results and analyzing the data to reveal the most compelling insights. However, all of that hard work goes to waste if the results aren’t shared with the public effectively. That is why the most critical part of any research project is the distribution plan — in other words, turning your results into news.
- Create a press release: As much as press releases are written off as an antiquated public relations tool, I would argue that using one to announce research is an effective way to share a succinct summarization of the results with a broader audience.
- Share with targeted media under embargo: Identify key media contacts that you expect would be interested in the research topic and offer them the opportunity to review the report, press release and any other collateral ahead of the announcement. This will give them time to assess the report, connect with your client to further discuss the results and develop a thorough article that will ideally be published to coincide with the research launch.
- Announce on launch day: Distribute the press release through a wire service and follow up with all pre-pitched media targets to make sure that they have all the elements they need to write a story.
- Trend hijacking: Monitor for current news and trends that you can tie the research results to.
- Subsequent angles: Save certain data and story angles for subsequent press releases and proactive pitching to help prolong the campaign.
Leverage additional content
The results of a research report offer plenty of fodder for additional content that will help extend the campaign. Obviously, content is not valuable unless the target audience is aware of it and is engaged with the material. So, it is super important to deliver the content in new, interactive ways, such as:
- Develop a landing page: Create a home for the research on your client’s website. It is also a good idea to gate the report so that your client can capture the contact information of anyone that downloads the report, and file them as a potential lead to follow up with later.
- Blog post: Publish multiple posts on your client’s blog that explore different themes and talks about the results in a more informal platform than a press release. Each post should link back to the report as well.
- Social media: Share the research announcement and any media coverage from all of your client’s social media channels.
- eBook: Publish an eBook that focuses on a theme of the research. Turning the results into a ‘how to’ or ‘check list’ framework serves as another great way to disseminate the findings, generate leads and educate readers on how to take action and better their own practices.
- Newsletter: Include a link to the research in your client’s upcoming e-newsletter.
- Marketing: It’s important to think beyond just PR opportunities. To ensure your client fully takes advantage of its research investment, keep marketing in the loop every step of the way, so they can use the research for sales enablement, demand gen and other activities.
Most importantly, remember that just because the research has been announced, that does not mean that the campaign is over. Research tends to have a shelf life of about six months to a year, so it is imperative to continue dissecting the research, developing new stories from it, and look for additional creative opportunities to tie the research to in an effort to insert your client into industry conversations.