Ch. 5- Research

Research Questions (pg 129)

  • What is the problem?
  • What kind of information is needed?
  • How will the results of the research be used?
  • What specific public whould be researched?
  • Should the organization do the reearch in-house or hire an outside consultant?
  • How will the research data be analyzed, reported, or applied?
  • How soon will the results be needed?
  • How much will the research cost?

Uses of Research (pg 129-131)

  • To achieve credibility with management
  • To define audiences and segment publics
  • To formulate strategy
  • To test messages
  • To help management keep in touch
  • To prevent crises
  • To monitor the competition
  • To sway public opinion
  • To generate publicity
  • To measure success.
Reasearch Techniques
  • Primary research-new and original information--examples: interviews, focus groups, surveys and polls
  • Seconday research-use of existing information--examples--books, magazines, databases

Table 5.1 (pg 132)

Qualitative versus Quantitative Research
Qualitative Research
Quantitative Research
Soft data
Hard data
Usually uses open ended questions, unstructured
Usually uses close ended questions, requires forced choices highly structured
Exploratory in nature; probing, fishing-expedition type of research
Descriptive or explanatory type of research
Usually valid, but not reliable
Usually valid and reliable
Rarely projectable to larger audiences
Usually projectable to larger audiences
Generally uses nonrandom samples
Generally uses random samples
Examples: Focus Groups; one-on-one, in-depth interviews; observation; participation; role-playing studies; convenience polling
Examples: Telephone polls, mail surveys, mall-intercept studies, face-to-face interviews, shared cost, or omnibus, studies; panel studies

-The library remains remains a valuable research tool
-Reading newspapers and watching television news programs is a habit that must also be embraced
-The Internet is a powerful research tool
Search engines include:
--Ask Jeeves
--AOL search
--MSN search
Newsgroups can also be useful in communicating with others about a particular topic--Example: PRFORUM is a newsgroup dedicated to public relations topics

Uses of databases (pg. 133)
  • To research facts and figures to support a proposed project or campaign that requires top management approval
  • To keep up to date with news about clients and their competitors
  • To track an organizations media campaigns and a competitors press announcements
  • To locate a special quote or impressive statistic for a speech or report
  • Tracking the press and business reaction to an organizations latest actions
  • To locate an expert who can provide advice on an issue or a possible strategy
  • To keep top management apprised of current business trends and issues
  • To learn the demographics and attitudes of target publics

Some online databases commonly used in public relations:
--Burrelle's Broadcast Database
--Dow Jones News/Retrieval

Content Analysis (pg 135)
  • Content Analysis
    • Content analysis is the systematic and objective counting or categorizing of content.
    • It can be used to evaluate press coverage
    • It can be used to determine if a need exists for additional public relations efforts
    • It can be used to observe potential problems with an organization's policies and services
Types of Interviews
  • Intercept Interviews-non-rigourous sampling method characterized by intercepting people in public places and asking their opinions--generally 2-5 min interviews
  • Purposive/In-depth Interviews- characterized by carefully selecting interviewees based on expertise, influence and/or leadership for more comprehensive information
Focus Groups
An informal research procedure that develops qualitative information typically used to help indentify attitudes and motivations of important publics-- usually consists of 8-12 people who represent the characteristics of some target audience
Copy Testing
Using representatives of some target audience to review draft material to make sure it can be understood before it is mass-produced and distributed

Scientific Sampling (pp 139-140)
Based on two important factors:
-large number of respondents

Random Sampling

  • Random Sampling/Probability Sampling- everyone in the targeted audience has an equal chance of being selected for a survey. This type of sampling can be performed by obtaining a list of every person in the target audience, and by randomly selecting every 25th name on the list.
  • Nonprobability Survey- not random at all, and usually takes place in such places as malls in the form of intercept interviews.
Sample Size
The average national poll samples 1,500 people and the margin of error is within 3 percentage points 95 percent of the time
  • In public relations, a scientific sampling of 250-500 with a 5-6 percent variance is generally accurate enough to determine general public attitudes and opinions
Questionaire Construction
Considerations include:
--Biased wording
--Timing and contexts
--Political correctness
--Answer categories

--Determine the type of information needed
--State the objectives in writing
--Determine target audience
--Determine size of sample
--State the purpose of the survey and guarantee anonymity
--Use multiple choice as often as possible
--Design survey in such a way that answers can be easily coded for statistical analysis
--Strive to make questionnaire no more than 25 questions
--Use categories when asking questions about education, age and income
--Use simple, familiar words
--Avoid ambiguity
--Edit out leading questions
--Consider context and placement of questions
--Provide space for comments/observations
--Pretest the questions for understanding and possible bias
Reaching Respondents
Pros and Cons of each delivery system:
  • Mail questionnaires- Pros include minimal cost, better control of who receives the qustionnaire; Cons include low response rate
  • Telephone surveys- Pros include immediate response/nonresponse, relatively inexpensive, personal, less intrusive, up to an 80-90 percent response rate; Cons include getting access to telephone numbers and convincing respondents that the poll/survey is being taken
  • Personal interviews- Pros include the potential for a wealth of information; Cons include high cost
  • Piggyback/Omnibus surveys- Pros include cost and expertise; Cons include limited perspective of public opinion given that only one or two questions are piggybacked (bought) in a national survey
  • Web and e-mail surveys- Pros include immediate availability once completed, Cons include low response rate and difficulty controlling the exact characteristics of the respondents