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PUBLIC RELATIONS RESEARCH AND PLANNING . Research plays and important part in PR. It is for this reason that students of PR must understand the usefulness of research. Importance of Research

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public relations research and planning
PUBLIC RELATIONS RESEARCH AND PLANNING
  • Research plays and important part in PR. It is for this reason that students of PR must understand the usefulness of research.
  • Importance of Research

According to Skinner et al. (2007:31) information and data must be gathered and compiled the facts. It is also necessary to have knowledge of target audiences. A PR practitioner who understands his or her audiences – their attitudes, hopes, and fears – will be better formulated messages that appeal specifically to them.

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Research Types

Informal PR research: is not necessarily aimed at the solution of a business problem and is basically conducted to broaden the knowledge of the researcher.

Formal PR research: clearly follows a methodological step-by-step approach, which should result in reliable information for decision-making. Formal research can be divided into the following two aspects:

    • Qualitative research: includes historical and legal research, in-depth interviews, focus groups, and panels. This category is descriptive and informative but not measurable.
    • Quantitative research: this type can be conducted in the laboratory or in the field. It may include content analysis and survey analysis. Quantitative research results in a mathematical analysis because it produces measurable results.
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Research methods

    • Individual questionnaires
    • Group questionnaires
    • Telephone questionnaire
    • Competitions
    • Focus groups
    • Individual interviews
    • Content analysis
    • Informal discussions
    • Observations

Refer to guide

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An important part of the problem formulation is SITUATION ANALYSIS. A situation analysis can be described as the informal gathering of background information to familiarise researchers with research problem. Situation analysis involves an overview of the following environments and factors:

  • Secondary data analysis (where existing information and forecasts are investigated)
  • Analysis of publics (internal and external publics)
  • Public relations strategies (advertising, pricing, intermediaries, products)
  • Resources and constraints of the organisation and
  • Technologies skills of the organisation.
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A PR research objective refers to the specific information that is needed to solve a PR research programme. Research should consider three basic aspects while stating the research objective:

  • The research question: which specifics the exact information that the decision-maker needs.
  • The hypothesis (assumption): which defined as unproven statement or proposition about the relationship between two or more variables that is of interest to the researcher?
  • The scope: of the research, this refers to the extent which it is possible to conduct the research.
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Data Collecting Approaches

Data collection approaches can be classified into three main categories:

    • The observation approach: this deals with the monitoring of respondents actions with any direct interaction from the researcher.
    • The survey approach: this involves the collection of problem-specific data from selected individuals (respondents) by way of direct or indirect questioning.
    • Experimentation: this approach is used in casual research design; in other words, when you want to prove that one variable causes the other variable to occur.
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Data Collection Instruments

There are two types of research instrument from which the researcher can choose to collect primary data: the questionnaire and mechanical or electronic equipment.

1. The Questionnaire :The questionnaire is most common instrument used for collecting primary data for survey purposes.

2. Mechanical or electronic equipment : Mechanical or electronic equipment involves the use of instruments such as eye cameras and electronic and mechanical meters to measure respondents‘ reactions, behaviours and opinions.

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PR research on the Internet

There are various advantages and disadvantages when it comes to the utilisation of the internet.

Advantages

    • The speed in which a questionnaire can be created and can be distributed to large numbers of respondents.
    • Data is electronic and collecting of data is easy.
    • The cost for PR research: the development, distribution and interviewer costs are almost totally eliminated or reduced to a fraction.
    • Large number of people can be reached and it crosses the usual communication barriers experienced in international research.
    • The visual enhancement of web-based surveys with attractive fonts, graphic, audio, video, professionally formatted page layouts. This makes it enjoyable for one to respond to internet surveys.
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Disadvantages

      • The lack of representativeness of internet users causes a distinct bias. Not every household has internet access.
      • Security is another problem. Factors such as spamming (mass-distributed e-mail messages or junk email) and the invasion of privacy through the use of Cookie files are a cause of great concern to many internet respondents.
  • Internet survey techniques : Two basic methods are currently being used on the internet:
    • Conventional website-based surveys. Respondents are invited (by e-mail, telephone or fax) to visit a specific URL where the website survey is located.
    • E-mail Based questionnaires. Questionnaires can be developed using software that can self-executable email attachment. Another approach is e-mail speciality software that will enable the automatic distribution and return e-mail questionnaires to targeted list of e-mail respondents.