Where research fits into public relations
Public relations activities are often explained with acronyms like ROPES and RACE.
- ROPES: Research, objectives, programming, evaluation, stewardship.
- RACE: Research, action, communication, evaluation.
It is important to note research is the foundation of all public relations activities and should operate on a continuous cycle. However, research is often overlooked and left behind during plan progression. Failing to revisit research throughout a plan is a mistake and can lead to expensive repercussions.
A crash course in research
- Theoretical research and applied research: Public relations professionals most often use applied research in their field. Applied research uses framework created by theoretical research to understand situations and solve problems.
- Quantitative and qualitative data: Within research are terms such as quantitative data and qualitative data. Quantitative data reports quantities whereas qualitative data reports subjective responses. Both quantitative data and qualitative data are equally important to public relations research.
The importance of research in public relations
- Research establishes a foundation for a public relations plan. Research allows public relations professionals to learn and understand an organization, its goals and its target market. In this baseline phase of research public relations professionals are able to judge current organization efforts and use industry knowledge to give advice and provide direction for the plan.
- Research allows for preparation of change and industry trends. In addition to foundation research, continuous research allows for preparation of change and industry trends. Continuous research efforts involve monitoring and tracking a plan and are referred to as checkpoint research or benchmark research.
- Research grants proper evaluation. The final activity in a public relations plan is preparing an evaluation of the plan. Proper measurement and assessment can only be administered when compared to baseline research. Therefore, if a baseline of research is not collected at the beginning of a plan then the effectiveness of the final evaluation diminishes.
Don’t leave research behind
In order to create an effective public relations plan research must be at the forefront of decision making and must be included throughout the plan. Therefore, the best public relations practices involve completing a foundation of baseline research and then accommodating for checkpoint research throughout the plan. Doing so will ensure your public relations plan stays on track, is able to adjust to change, and remains up to date with industry trends.