I feel like this question is a no-brainer. Why research in public relations? What would happen if we avoided research? Research is an essential skill in PR. We need it to learn about the company we’re going to represent; how could we possibly come up with a solid plan for the company without knowledge of who they are and what they do? We need it to identify the public that the company aims towards, whether we’ll be ” selling the product to teens or adults, males or females, students or professionals” (PR Friend, 2013). We need it to keep an eye on similar competitor companies. We need it to get the company’s name out there and generate publicity. Without research, the company and the PR firm would eventually fail.
We live in an age where all we have to do to find something out is type it in a search engine. As Melanie James of the University of Newcastle, Australia eloquently puts it, “the Internet gives public relations practitioners a unique opportunity to collect information, monitor public opinion on issues, and engage in direct dialogue with their publics about a variety of issues” (2008). Research has become more accessible to everyday people in the electronic age, as well as easier for people in the PR field to get the information needed to develop a successful plan for a company.
It also poses a challenge to PR practitioners; news travels fast, whether it be good news or bad news. I mean, we hear about things the second they happen over the Internet: Justin Bieber was arrested for a DUI and my Twitter feed blew up, Richard Sherman gave an intimidating post-game interview and social media went wild, the CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch said their clothes weren’t made for fat or uncool people and Facebook moms everywhere threw out their kids A&F clothes. We’re all humans, and humans make mistakes, but the people behind the scenes in the PR world have to have a backup plan for when things like this happen. Research can help prevent crises like these, or have a plan B when they happen. Anyone can access the Internet, that’s why “research has to be more considered and thought provoking,” and “most certainly, no more exaggeration” because, with the world able to be so exposed to the public, there is hardly room for error (mustard, 2013).
Obviously, research plays a huge role in public relations. To sum up what I’ve already pointed out, PR Friend gives us this tip about research: ” It’s important to know a client’s needs, target market, and available resources in order to draw up a good PR plan” (2013). Especially in this day and age, people in PR can’t escape the importance of research in keeping both the client and their own firm successful and up-and-coming.
PR Friend. (2013). The importance of research in public relations. PR Friend. Retrieved from http://www.prfriend.com/research-in-public-relations/
mustard. (2013). Market Research and Public Relations – the what, the why and the how. mustard Blog. Retrieved from http://www.mustard-research.com/blog/13/11/market-research-and-public-relations-%E2%80%93-what-why-and-how
James, Melanie. (2008). A review of the impact of new media on public relations: Challenges for terrain, practice and education. University of Newcastle, Australia. Retrieved from http://www.pria.com.au/sitebuilder/forms/forms/file/34-174/Melanie%20James%20article%20Asia%20Pacific%20PR%20Journal.pdf