Why is market research important in PR and how can it help specialists?
Written by: Paul Stallard
Market research is important at various stages in the PR process. Firstly, – and a stage that is often neglected – there is great value in conducting market research before the start of any project, to inform the development of the PR brief. Market research can help you to understand your target audience, the competitive landscape, and the dynamics of the industry that you operate within. It will also help you to build credibility with stakeholders and may help to get the project signed off, if you can demonstrate that your plan is fact based, and built on a rigorous evaluation of the industry, rather than on hunches and gut feel. You can get double the value from investment at this stage, as the same market research will then feed into developing your PR plan both in terms of providing genuinely useful content but also to ensure that your approach is grounded in reality, making it more likely to succeed.
As well as using market research to inform planning, it can also actually be a part of your PR plan, in that you can use research to investigate areas of interest, to create a compelling story. Conducting surveys with consumers, or other end-user groups can give you great statistics to build your campaign around. A word of warning here – this strategy can only work if you use a reputable market research company who will guide you in conducting high-quality unbiased research, as poorly designed projects won’t stand up to media scrutiny.
Market research that you conduct as part of a particular PR initiative will also keep you well informed more generally about consumer trends and hot topics, which will help you make better decisions and work more effectively across all of your endeavours.
Finally, you can use market research at the end of a campaign, to evaluate the success of the project, understand any issues and look at how to improve for future work. As such, market research is important in PR, not as a one-off investment in a particular project, but as an ongoing part of the PR process, which can deliver value at every stage.