Research in PR; Why is it Important?

Research did not seem like an important concept in the field of public relations until this semester. Verifying information and making sure the story is valid in every last detail is critical. The amount of time it takes does not matter because it can make or break your reputation depending on the validity of the information. Looking into some studies about public relations, it made it very clear why research was so important.

When writing a press release in public relations, the research behind it is to deliver the most accurate information to the target audience, even if that is the general public. Stephen Bremner (2014) found that the research done by public relations representatives is done to emphasize a genre in news releases and direct it to the general public (p. 260). Easily stated, they want the article to be written so that whomever it is sent to will only have to do minor changes in order to publish it. Public relations professionals may have a target audience in mind, but want the article to be readable to all audiences that may have interest. The research conducted may only focus on that particular press release rather than expanding on other issues or topics within the company but I think public relations departments also want to make sure they are releasing any news to get publicity when they have access to it. Bremner (2014) also found PR professionals will look at the “generic structure” of a press release and the general information but also look into other news related topics surrounding the firm (p. 261). There is a process to writing a news release and that is what they believe the research is for; Brainstorming, drafting a press release, and sending it out for coverage (Bremner, p. 261).

I agree the research takes place to write the release but I think there are several stages of research that could be included. I think the process includes brainstorming, researching, drafting a release, researching further information, verifying all information is included and then sending out for coverage.

This may seem excessive, and in many ways may seem like media is taking over the aspect of business. The answer to this is that it is. “The most recent survey data from Pew Research in late 2013 shows that 94% of jobholders are internet users and they work in all kinds of enterprises from technology companies to non-technology firms” (Purcell, K., Raines, L., 2014, p. 1).  Since almost all workers are using internet on a day-to-day basis with their jobs, more than likely they are using social media outside of work as well. Media is the main source of communication and having public relations firms use that to either get their news to the world or research their information before sending out to the public is extremely helpful and beneficial to all firms.

Chyrstl Sanchez (2013) from the Weber Shandwick PR agency states that there are three main reasons why public relations professionals need to use research; Strategy, substantiating claims, and decision making (p. 1).  She emphasizes that research can help a PR agency to be more cost effective, efficient in all objectives of communication, and also helps you answer the important question ‘Why?’ (Sanchez, 2013, p.1). After reading her point of view after starting in the PR profession, it clarifies that research is an important aspect in the field that most do not expect.

Public relations is vital to each business to make sure they are getting the publicity they need, but they also need to make sure the information they are releasing is accurate and answers all questions. That is where research comes in. Research is there to verify all information is accurate and is being directed to the general public in the most effective way to keep a business going.

References

Bremner, S., 2014. Genres and processes in the PR industry: behind the scenes with an intern writer. International Journal of Business Communication, p. 259-279. DOI: 10.1177/2329488414525398

Purcell, K., Raine, L. (2014). Technology’s Impact on Workers. Pew Research Center, p. 1. http://www.pewinternet.org/2014/12/30/email-and-the-internet-are-the-dominant-technological-tools-in-american-workplaces/

Sanchez, C. (2013). 3 reasons why research is crucial to effective public relations. Weber Shandwick blog, p. 1. http://www.webershandwickseattle.com/2013/09/3-reasons-why-research-is-crucial-to-effective-public-relations/

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