Feb 27, 2018 Categories: Public Relations & Marketing Tags: Communications Program, Content Marketing, Thought Leadership

Stanton PR

What can your company do to gain visibility when:

  • You have a new product and you want more than trade publicity?
  • There isn’t anything to announce?
  • You want to show your customers how informed you are about their needs and challenges?

Sponsored surveys can provide an excellent way to stand out in front of customers, investors, employees and other audiences. The media can often use this third-party data to uncover emerging trends and objective insights … and your company gets credit for the research.

But just conducting a poll doesn’t guarantee success. It’s best to be aware of the challenges. For example:

  • Sponsored surveys have become so popular over the past 10-15 years that reporters, editors and producers are inundated with them.
  • Many are too self-serving to be news.

Among the most common mistakes are corporate surveys that are too general without uncovering anything new. Design your survey to address the questions of reporters who often ask, ”Tell me something I don’t know.” “What was surprising about the results?”

Your checklist should include the following steps:

  1. Determine your target media by asking yourself where you would ultimately like your research to appear.
  2. In addition to choosing a topic relevant to your business, pick a survey theme that is likely to interest the media. Check to see what’s been covered before and think about what might make a good story angle in terms of emerging trends.
  3. Plan the timing. When would you like the results to appear? Is there a seasonal hook or an upcoming event?
  4. Decide who you should poll. Consumers? Business executives? Other?
  5. Choose an independent research company to conduct the survey. The media look to see if a survey is conducted using a random sample with a low margin of error. There are a range of options in terms of price, methodology and the format for report they will provide.
  6. Craft your questions by asking yourself, “What is likely to create news no matter what they answer?” If you provide multiple choice answers, you will be able to tabulate your results better than with open-ended questions.
  7. Once you receive the survey responses, analyze them in order to draw conclusions and uncover unknown trends. You may find it helpful to compare the data in categories like gender, age and region.
  8. When you prepare your results for media consumption in, say, a press release, focus on the news trends they indicate.

Once you’ve completed your survey, it’s important to remember that you have a trove of content that can be leveraged in a variety of ways beyond media relations. For instance, does the data lend itself to an infographic that you can post on social media, send to contacts or put on your website? Is there an opportunity to showcase the expertise of an executive from your firm with an op-ed or a byline? Can the results be turned into a pitch for a speaking opportunity or become the basis for a video? By repurposing the content for different products and channels, you extend the life of your research and maintain your brand’s thought leadership platform.

Bottom line: Sponsored surveys can pay off in prestige and visibility as long as common mistakes are avoided.

-Ann Pinkerton

Image via Pixabay