According to this article by members of the Commission on Public Relations Measurement & Evaluation, using research as a valuable piece of every public relations effort can do many things for your organization or your client.
I have a hard time thinking of ways to use PR research outside of pre-campaign planning, but thanks to this article I can see some great ways to use research in different areas of PR, from decision-making to organizational support!
First, research can help you determine what current tactics are working or not working. Before changing or ending a public relations campaign, it’s a good idea to find out what it’s strengths and weaknesses are. That way, you know whether you need to correct some areas of the current campaign or throw it out completely to start fresh.
Research can also be a great tool to help you win support for your strategy. If you’ve done enough research to know how you need to move forward with a communication strategy, it’s a good idea to let others know about it. You’re more likely to win over a strong dissenting voice with data rather than rhetorical persuasion.
A great way to show your organization the value of PR is to show its impact on sales. To do this, you must research sales and what affects them before and after implementation of your PR campaign. Find out how high sales are and why. Use that information to determine how you can impact sales through PR efforts. Then, see if your tactics caused any change in sales numbers. Pass the information along to management to easily show how PR contributes to the bottom line.
Researching how your organization is positioned in the minds of your publics in relation to competitors will give you a good idea of how to use PR efforts to improve on weak areas and reinforce the strong ones.