5 PR Research Tips

Our final for my Public Relations Research class is to write 5 important things a public relations student should know about conducting research. Although there are plenty more than 5, I picked the 5 that I view most important in my learning this past semester. They are as follows:

1.  Research.

  • The first and most important step is to do background research. This can save you a lot of time and heartache. Someone else may have already done this research or something similar that not only can help lead you in the right direction, but can give you tips for your questions you may be asking in a survey, interview, or focus group.

2. Four  Basic Research Questions

  • Definition?: What is the problem? What are you researching?
  • Fact?: Compare groups. As stated above, do your research.
  • Value?: How good is this information? How good is the research? Is it worth something?
  • Policy?: Should we do it? Is it worth the time and money? Is it ethical?

3. Speaking of Ethics: There are a few rules you should always follow when conducting primary research.

  • Be honest and fair to participants. They are giving you their time to help you, they deserve it.
  • Maintain Confidentiality. Period.
  • Stay true to the reward you offer and always debrief your participants, so they are clear in what is going on.
  • Do not harm your participants, physically or mentally.
  • Educate. Educate your participants about your research.

4. When conducting Primary Research, there’s 3 different Methods to go by:

  • Interviews: These are one on one and can be really specific. They allow you to understand problems. However, you cannot generalize and it can be very costly and time-consuming.
  • Focus Groups: This allows you to shadow people in their environment and to focus on a couple people at a time. However, this can also be very costly and time-consuming and requires a lot of preparation.
  • Surveys: This is the easiest to execute and most cost efficient. You can generalize and receive statistics on a large amount of people.

5. Finally, there are 3 basic types of questions

  • Funnel: This is a short answer question that determines what the next question will be.
  • Topical: This is a general question about any topic.
  • Probe: This questions “probes” the interviewees to think more about their answers. Examples would be “How do you feel…” or “Tell me more about… “

After completing this Research class, I definitely learned a lot of hands on tips when conducting research. Our research project with the Center for Excellence in Teaching on Georgia Southern’s campus allowed me to fully immerse myself into the research world. From looking up previous studies for a lit review, to creating a survey and compiling the results through Zoomerang.

Organizing the material also plays an important part in the process, because it allows for a research student to work on a complete research project that would be handed in the real business world.

In the end, taking a PR research class is beneficial for any PR student. Even me, as I want to be an Event Planner, took away tips that will help me in my career. Event when planning events, research has to be done, in order to insure success.


December 2, 2009. Personal.

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