This post was first published by Stephanie Jackman on March Communications’ blog PR Nonsense.
There was a time when public relations was limited to positioning clients in front of the media. That time, however, is over, as the digital age has caused PR to evolve into much, much more. While media relations is still a very big part of what PR practitioners do, nowadays, we are asked to wear many hats. A client campaign could also include a wider variety of content creation and social media support, for example. In the last two years alone, I have seen one area of PR support grow exponentially, adding significant value to what PR firms can offer their clients. That area is research.
As Kacey Albertine mentioned in her recent post, Survey-Writing Tips for Not-So-Dumb Dummies, an area that used to make PR professionals sweat has now become one of our greatest tools for media outreach and content fodder. With it, we can shape a story, offer compelling headlines to the media, and ultimately position clients as thought leaders in a given area. However, as with anything, research costs money. Lots of it. While research commissioned by a third party with extensive experience is ideal, it is oftentimes unrealistic for marketing departments contending with tight budgets. That’s where PR pros come in.
On many occasions, March has acted not only as a client’s PR agency, but also as their research firm. Using our experience regarding the types of statistics that will really capture the interest of the media and their readers (hint: the most controversial ones that go against the grain), we can craft questions that will offer the most value in terms of both PR and sales leads. Next comes the hard part: garnering enough responses so the survey is seen as credible by the media, customers, partners and the industry as a whole.
Through our experience at March, we have found that the following tactics offer the best path toward successful research initiatives:
Press Release/Media Alert
Announcing the launch of the survey (with an abundance of links, of course!) and why someone should bother taking it, can prove highly valuable in getting the word out early and building momentum . This is especially beneficial, given that we’ve found the biggest spike in responses typically comes within the first week the survey is live.
Everyone likes free stuff. By offering the chance to win an iPad, for example, consumers are much more inclined to take 10 minutes out of their day to offer their opinions in a survey.
Similar to a press release, a survey-launch blog post is a casual way to tell everyone about the survey, using the company’s voice and personality. It can then be shared via all social media channels and followed up with additional blog posts throughout the survey window. So make it fun! And don’t forget to mention the free iPad!
When we’ve launched surveys for our clients, we’ve not only developed aggressive social media campaigns during the time the surveys were live, but before they were even launched. The more followers/likes/shares you have prior to launch, the better the engagement! It helps you hit the ground running. But, in order to avoid social media fatigue, or posting a variation of the same tweet about the survey every day, it’s important to get creative! Can you participate in relevant Twitter chats? Do any current events tie into what your survey is about? Are there any industry conferences happening during the survey timeframe whose hashtags you can hijack? What about relevant LinkedIn groups you can post in?
In order to avoid the midpoint slump, it’s important to have a plan in place for the halfway point of the survey window. One avenue we’ve explored is SlideShare. Why not create a short, highly-visual slideshow that “leaks” a few of the more interesting findings? Maybe people will disagree and feel compelled to take the survey themselves and voice their opinions! What’s more, SlideShare allows for up to 20 tags, which is great for SEO.
Email Signatures/Internal Newsletters
Depending on the demographics you are looking for, an internal push can be a huge help. Maybe your client can have all employees include a line about the survey in their email signatures? How about a mention in the monthly newsletter that gets sent around to partners, customers, prospects, etc.?
Different combinations of the tactics above have proved very fruitful for March in promoting client surveys, but this is only a sampling! Are there any tips and tricks not on this list that you’ve found useful?