Using Surveys to Share Your Story With the Media

by WordWrite Staff, on Aug 14, 2014

Many clients come to us because they feel not enough potential customers or clients know about them or what they do. They believe media coverage will change that, leading to more sales. While that very well could be true, we advise a strategic approach to getting a name/company brand out there. The reality is, getting the attention of the media is easy (ever read the police blotter?), but becoming a respected thought leader takes much more time and yields far greater results.

As a side note, one of the things I love about our office is that we share interesting industry articles with each other because we believe in continuous learning. Complacency is just not for us. Recently, someone shared an article written by a fellow PR professional that likened getting PR (media coverage) to ordering a pizza. The author felt the general lack of knowledge about HOW we do what we do as PR professionals can be frustrating because it’s not like we order it up and customize it how we’d like—just like calling Domino’s. Yet, that seems to be exactly what many who aren’t in our industry feel we do—order up news articles with perfectly written headlines—oh yes, and front page, above-the-fold—hold the quotes from others, please.

A more realistic analogy—in keeping with the pizza idea—would be planting the tomato seeds, tending to the garden, harvesting the fruit, making the sauce, etc. You get the point. It’s a long process that involves patience, nurturing and consistency.

Now that we’ve established that PR isn’t about simply ordering up a pizza, what is the ideal way to get the media’s attention? Consider establishing your thought leadership by using data as a means of support for your credibility on a subject.

Remember, reporters are always looking for content—on a regular basis they need compelling stories and sources to help tell them. It’s no secret that research and facts help tell a story by providing validation and serving as a relevant hook to make a story worth covering. A quick Survey Monkey consumer-focused questionnaire is fine in some cases. However, for purposes of this blog and its focus on thought leadership, we’re referring to meaningful and statistically significant market research that goes much deeper.  There are a number of firms that specialize in this kind of market research and we’ve worked with a few over the years. The key is finding a nationally known and respected firm that will help develop your initial concept, generate the most appropriate questions to garner the best results, execute the actual survey and deliver a detailed report complete with an executive summary of the findings.

So, how does this become news? The results allow you to generate some buzz while positioning your organization as an industry leader. A seasoned PR pro can help pull out the most newsworthy information and assist with messaging to tell your story. Consider an annual survey because it gives you baseline data to track over time and communicate to the public/media on a regular basis. In some cases, annual surveys have become a mainstay for news content. Some that come to mind—various college surveys, fitness trends (notice how they tend to come out around New Year’s resolution time), Consumer Reports Car-Brand Perception Survey, employee benefits and the Annual Survey of Manufacturers. In essence, the annual results provide newsworthy content for not just news media stories but also for presentations, media interviews, sales pitches and a variety of other marketing materials. The investment is well worth the return if done correctly. Commissioned research from an outside market research firm tends to help with credibility, although you can conduct your own research.

The methods for sharing the news can vary, based on the industry, the newsworthiness of the results and the timeliness.  For one manufacturing client, we organized a press conference at the National Press Club to share the results of a survey they had commissioned about national perceptions of the manufacturing industry. We invited several notable experts to attend and comment on the findings, which gave the announcement greater exposure and heightened its importance. The high concentration of media in and around Washington, D.C. made the National Press Club the ideal location for such an announcement. We issued a press release with the findings via a national news wire and reached out to trade publications with the survey findings, garnering hundreds of media hits.

When considering ways to get the attention of the news media, think through what expertise you have to offer and how you might share it. What is the ideal headline you’d love to read? Market research in the form of a survey is a great way to package up newsworthy data and share it with those who could benefit—including the media, consumers, your ideal customers and others.

Have you used a survey or research as a way to generate content worthy of media coverage? Share your story in the comments below.

Topics:media relationsstorypublic relations
Hollie Geitner
Hollie Geitner
Vice President, Culture and Brand Ambassador

Hollie Geitner is Vice President, Culture and Brand Ambassador at WordWrite Communications. You can get in touch with her via email at hollie.geitner@wordwritepr.com or follow her on Twitter at @JustHollieG.

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