Dissect the data: Getting the most out of your research
Recently, I was looking back at some old PR plans for clients and prospects back in the day (way back) and noticed research as a main theme…but not where you might think.
The research ideas being proposed were all part of the ‘creative’ section. They were among the ‘nice to haves’ and ‘if there’s remaining budget’ ideas.
But, over the last decade or so, research has evolved from a big ‘creative idea’ (“Hey, let’s do research!”) to a mainstay for brands’ business strategy and comms plans alike (“What’s our next biannual research survey going to look at?”).
Let’s face it…in today’s day and age, if you’re not producing industry research, your competitors are, and you’re missing out.
Research is not only great for sales teams to help prove industry pain points and back up those initial prospecting conversations, or for helping cultivate lead generation activities with gated content, it’s also great for PR to secure media opportunities and exposure for brands battling for competitive mindshare and recognition.
The data matters
But, regardless of how fresh your research idea is, media may not always think your great insights are as great as you do. (“What do you mean you don’t want to cover my research? Your beat is security and this is security research!”)
And that happens. Sometimes the data doesn’t come back with as astounding of a revelation as you’d hoped, or maybe the stats show only slight majorities, rather than landslides one way or the other that would lead to more provocative results and stances on industry direction.
And, I’ve been there with some clients…more than once.
That’s why it’s important to have the experience and expertise to be able to dissect research in different ways to get the most out of it, and to set yourself up going in to any research campaign with the possibility of coming out with multiple angles. This way, you get more bites at the apple, so to speak.
There’s always more to find
Your options aren’t endless, but there are many different ways to cross cut results to find the most impactful points.
For instance, research that seeks to find out whether AI will impact your business may come back showing mediocre effect. But, if you look at those same results by industry, you may find that while the overall sentiment about the business impact of AI was “meh, maybe, we’ll see,” the results for the retail and manufacturing sectors were through the roof!
It’s all in how you look at it.
Cross cutting data with qualifying questions for things like industry, company size, geography, respondent title, etc. can be eye opening, revealing different trends you didn’t even anticipate.
“There’s a reason research is both an art and a science,” said Jeremy Guterl, March Communications research analyst. “Data analysis is scientific, but doing it effectively requires a lot of creativity. Splits by demographics, attitudes, beliefs, top performers vs. low performers, level of experience, etc. – the list goes on and on.”
This approach not only can save you if your results aren’t great, but can also let you drip feed results, extending the life of a campaign for months on end.
Data dissection in action
Recently, our client Canonical did this for its report on Defining IoT Business Models. By cross cutting the data and drip feeding different results, Canonical was able to first talk about the greatest IoT challenge it uncovered as quantifying ROI (not security as you might think, though that was a close second), and then hiring challenges and skills gaps for another take on the data.
Each release provided strong results, backed by the data, which allowed for sales, lead gen and media benefits across the board!
It also allowed the company and its PR teams to go after different audiences with angles, data and solutions to pain points that would really resonate with prospects and media (and their readers) for a more targeted approach.
Has research evolved as a must have for your clients and brands? What have you found as the most valuable benefit to dissecting data in different ways?
Meredith L. Eaton is a Vice President at March Communications, focusing on driving awareness and engagement for technology innovation brands in cloud, telco, security, infrastructure, AI and IoT markets. By aligning her clients’ business objectives with PR initiatives, Meredith has helped companies – from large, public brands to niche startups – execute business-critical, integrated campaigns to capture competitive market share and shift brand perceptions. Follow her on Twitter.
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