How to make a survey work for your PR plan

December 12, 2017

With an ever-changing media landscape, it’s important as PR professionals to keep an arsenal of tools at the ready in order to get that perfect piece of coverage for your client. One way to do that is by conducting and leveraging a third-party survey to garner media interest. Yes, that may seem like a daunting task and let’s be honest, it’s not for the faint of heart. But if done correctly, a survey can be a benefit to any well-oiled PR strategy.

So how exactly do you make a survey work for your client? Well it all comes down to a few key factors and a LOT of internal brainstorming and discussions. First and foremost, you must ask the question, does this survey align with my client’s long-term goals and objectives?” If it does, lay out the survey every step of the way from qualitative questions all the way down to potential headlines. This will not only help you understand the survey you are tasked with creating but will help your client understand the process as well.

In most cases, a survey is going to be a timely and costly venture for your client so it’s important to take the time to identify an appropriate theme, strategy and questions for your survey that will result in the best outcome.

Here’s an example of a survey we recently conducted on behalf of our client, iovation. Working with Survey Monkey, we polled 1,000 consumers across multiple generations with questions about their fraud IQ and how their knowledge (or lack thereof) affects their online shopping behaviors. The survey results were released alongside iovation’s proprietary data showing just how much fraud occurred over the 2017 Black Friday to Cyber Monday holiday shopping weekend compared to the same time frame in 2016. The data pulled wasn’t quite what we initially expected – turns out, credit card fraud actually dropped 29 percent for the first time in years!  In terms of outreach, the unexpected nature of the data worked in our favor when pitching the survey results, earning us multiple pieces of original coverage and a snapshot in USA Today!

Something else to keep in mind when deciding whether or not to do a survey is to consider the associated risks. This isn’t to scare you from conducting a survey or proposing the idea to your client but, rather, to make sure you are aware that surveys don’t always end up going in the direction you hoped they would.

One of the key advantages of using a survey to tell your client’s story is that the data will usually have a long shelf life. So even if you don’t get the overwhelming interest you intended, the survey results can be utilized for proactive pitches and contributed content far down the line, so don’t give up!

At the end of the day, doing a survey is completely dependent on what will work best for your client and their goals. Remember, surveys can be a great tool as long as you give them the time and thought they need to succeed!


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