The PR industry is experiencing significant disruption as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Budgets are tightening, news cycles are getting shorter, and comms strategies that have been painstakingly developed over months are being swiftly changed, postponed or even discarded.
Market research can help agencies and in-house PRs answer the challenges of this crisis. Understanding how consumer behaviour and attitudes are changing can enable you to adapt your comms strategy and ensure you’re communicating with audiences in the right way.
And it doesn’t have to be a slow, intensive or expensive process. Fast-turnaround omnibus and targeted research allows you to gain valuable insights into public opinion without sacrificing speed or accuracy.
With omnibus research, multiple clients can share space on a single survey – with each only paying for the questions they ask. This means that agencies can reach a large, nationally representative or commonly requested sample for a fraction of the cost of a standalone project, without sacrificing any sample quality or research support.
What can I use a fast-turnaround survey for?
Fast-turnaround research is a versatile tool. It’s useful for reactive work that focuses on participating in the immediate news agenda. If your client is a housing charity, for example, you could potentially attract coverage in Tier 1 and 2 publications by asking tenants about their prospects of keeping their jobs and paying their rent over the next few months.
For a medical technology client, a question on – for example – how willing Brits are to be treated by an AI could be a way to get involved in the national conversation about the current pressures on the health service.
But there’s more to fast-turnaround research than speed. It can be an effective way to lend ballast to a new business pitch; one or two killer stats can turn a good presentation into a great one. If your client has sponsored an event such as The Proms, a fast-turnaround survey can be an easy way to see whether or not the partnership has raised consumer awareness, bolstered their reputation, or had any other desired outcomes.
How do I get the most out of my fast-turnaround research?
First make sure that the market research company you’re using has all the information they need. If they understand what you’re trying to accomplish, they’ll find it much easier to design a worthwhile project. Just emailing your questions across and hoping for the best isn’t likely to generate great results. A short phone call can go a long way.
In terms of the survey itself, a proven way to get the most accurate and relevant results is to ask questions in the most straightforward way. Omnibus research is, by nature, less detailed than a standalone project, and it’s easy to overcomplicate your questions.
There’s plenty of time to be creative once you have the results; the survey itself should be simple and engaging for the respondent. A good market research partner will advise on how to do this as intuitively as possible – and structure the survey in a way that encourages honest, accurate answers from respondents, ensuring findings stand up to external scrutiny once they achieve media coverage.
If COVID-19 has made PR more difficult, it hasn’t changed the fundamentals of a strong comms strategy. Telling interesting, agenda-setting stories in a way that resonates with your target audience is as essential as ever – and in these difficult and unusual times, fast-turnaround research can help you do just that.