Research for PR’s Sake
Authors: Dirk Rinker & Justin Cross
Getting attention has never been easy. These days it can be painfully difficult.
People have become accustomed to tailoring their own on-demand entertainment, accessing feature-rich Internet sites, choosing from hundreds of television stations, pausing live shows with TiVO, and picking vacation activities on cruises like they’re ordering off a menu. Is it any wonder that getting attention has become so difficult? The bar is being raised; anyone who is short on ideas won’t make it.
One way to get peoples’ attention – regardless of whether your target is new donors, members, subscribers, etc. – is by providing tasty, bite-sized nuggets of research results. This is by no means a new idea, but few organizations build it into their marketing plans. Let’s look at examples…
The information you provide has to provoke interest – not only among your target audience, but among editors and publishers as well. This has more to do with the presentation than it does with the information itself. Contrast, for example, can be very effective. The fact that American households give an average of $941 annually to secular causes is much more interesting if presented alongside the $800 American households typically spend each year on new furniture.
You might also try showing relative impact. For instance, your organization may have targeted several rivers in North Carolina for cleanup by 2010, at a cost of several million dollars. Add sparkle to the numbers by showing that the amount needed is equivalent to every North Carolinian recycling just one more pound of trash in the coming year.
Wherever possible, relate results to things people do in their everyday lives, to cultural phenomenon (e.g. iPhones, FaceBook, “Green” living, etc.), or to issues that are relevant on a regional level. Be creative, but do this without being overreaching or being contrived.
Nonprofits must summarize their point in a headline that readers can take in at a glance. More and more, this is how people process information – they are skimmers, looking for things that are relevant and interesting. Imagine how much less appealing the “Bloggiest Cities” example below would be if the headline was “Number of Blog Posts per capita by City.”
Graphics can also help. People are willing to absorb further details more when they have their interest piqued by an attention-getting graphic such as the city block in the example above. The initial snippet of information is absolutely critical to garnering their attention and follow-through.
It also helps immensely to use subtle graphical cues. Just like USA Today Snapshots always appears in the lower left corner of each day’s cover, keeping your financial disclosure in the same place on your appeals or thank-you receipts sends a subconscious but helpful visual cue to your readers.
This is a big topic. There are many different ways to get the information you need. Surveys are most popular, but even with surveys there are different considerations, such as how to survey (Internet, phone, mail, etc.), who to survey, how to analyze the results, etc. There are other non-survey options, too, such as focus groups, online discussion groups, database analysis, collecting secondary data, etc. Enlisting the help of a professional research company can certainly help. If your research is poorly conducted, then your organization is left open to negative scrutiny and there is less of a chance that your results will gain traction.
So let’s say you’ve collected some great data. Now you need to use it to your advantage. Here are some ideas…
In the spring of 2006 the research firm Pursuant Inc. conducted a national phone survey of 1,045 adults. The topic was the hit TV show American Idol, and the results showed that one in 10 Americans voted during the show’s 2006 season, and that 58% of viewers valued Idol judge Simon Cowell’s opinion more than the opinions of other Idol judges.
Pursuant enlisted the help of Sage Communications, a marketing communications agency, to promote their survey results. The Associated Press published an article on the results, and articles from other outlets followed. Cowell mentioned the results during the show, and the media buzz produced over a billion audience impressions. 1
This is one example of a well-executed PR campaign that was conducted to get a company (Pursuant) noticed using research results.
1Quirk’s Marketing Research Review, March 2007, page 58
Campbell Rinker is proud to introduce the 2008 Health & Hospital edition of our DonorPulse series of reports. This report summarizes the findings of a survey of American donors conducted in February, 2008.
Surveying was conducted by phone and Internet. Of the 3,312 donors who responded, 1,590 (48%) had donated to a hospital or health/medical-related charity.
A few of the many key findings in this report include…
Campbell Rinker would like to thank William C. McGinly, President/CEO of the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy, for providing an insightful Introduction to this report.
The comprehensive 95 page report is available to order from our web site. >>>visit here
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