How important is research in a communications strategy? It’s a question that we often get asked and there’s a pretty simple answer – very. Not conducting research prior or during any communications strategy can lead to frustration when you fail to get results or questions around why your messaging isn’t resonating with your target audience.
Research is a crucial part of a communications strategy, but it is sometimes overlooked by businesses who rush into things looking for quick results. Research allows a business to find out how their brand, product or service is perceived, or even whether their audience is aware of their offering.
Prior to commencing a strategy, research can help a business to understand its audience’s priorities to ensure that any messaging connects with them.
While undertaking research before the start of a campaign is vital, just as important is continuing this research to evaluate whether key audiences are responding to, or interacting with, your messages. Research can be undertaken at any stage in a strategy – it’s never too late to evaluate your campaign to make sure you’re connecting with your key audiences and achieving any goals that were set.
We’ve established that research is an essential element of a communications strategy, but what type of research should you be doing? It really does depend on the type of business and the product or brand that you are promoting. Research can take various forms, including desk-based, surveys, panels, focus groups, business interviews and competitor analysis. Generally, using a mix of these tactics will provide businesses with the results they need to inform a communications strategy but every client or project is different.
Done correctly research can play an integral part in a communications strategy. In the planning stage of a strategy it allows you to create objectives for your communications plan, identify your current or potential key audiences and gather feedback on past activity. Once activity has begun on a strategy, research can help you check what you are doing is working and evaluate its success.
The right kind of research can really help inform a communications strategy so if you as an in-house communications professional, or agency, aren’t fortunate to enough to have a research team to call on. Take a look at our research page or get in touch with a member of the team for more information.
To hear more about the importance of research in a communications strategy come along to the CIPR Northern Conference on 13 July where James and Nathan from the team will be presenting on the subject.