Malika Kulshrestha from KGK group sheds light on the relevance of research in a PR strategy for yielding better ROIs for brands and marketers.
When Public Relations became more advanced and integrated as a service with every step of evolution, it was not limited to the preaching and popularizing of the company’s vision, anymore.
In the current digital age, it is required that the PR keeps itself abreast with the client’s business objectives, target audiences, and market competition to deliver result-oriented output.
For this, they need to adopt the smart route of thoroughly studying the context and conducting definitive research across all parameters that will lead to the targeted, result-driven communication for the attainment of the desired outcome, as a part of their PR strategy.
Owing to recent times, the companies have realized that seizing the opportunity to innovate and invest in research & development during a crisis will render the brands emerge stronger. However, Public Relations was agile enough to incorporate research into their decorum with alacrity, almost a decade ago. That’s where the brands, as well as professionals, adapted extensive research to define the buyer persona. Such shifts became tremendously important in communicating the agenda and effectively connecting with the preferences.
Be it product penetration, brand extension, market expansion, or crisis management, good PR communication should encapsulate strategies that are critically designed and tailored to address the client’s requirements.
But before delving into the intensive research it is important to understand the chronology of research. In PR, research is developed as per the four phases, given below:
- Formative Research,
- PR Strategy
- Relevant Tactics, and
- Evaluative Research
During the first phase, organizations analyze the internal environment, public perception, and external environment in order to figure out the strengths and weaknesses. For example, McDonald’s executed issue management to enter the Indian market. The research played an instrumental role in predicting the opportunities and obstacles the company would face in establishing itself in India.
Based on the data acquired during the formative research, strategies are formulated under affordable cost which defines the organization’s goals. McDonald’s India did quite well in formulating actions and response strategies. The company engaged in both pro-active and re-active strategies according to the changing situation. With extensive market research, the brand had noticed that children have the power to influence parents. Hence, it decided to set children as its key public. McDonald’s introduced children’s menus and offered free toys to target the children. Furthermore, the influences of American culture brought to Indian youngsters had created another target market for Mcdonald’s.
Following the strategy, the organization steps into the process of developing tactics that will help the company to stand out from the other players in the market. For this, the companies need to deliver their message to the target audience by striking the right communication with them. Here, information, persuasion, and dialogue come in handy in establishing communication.
In India, before launching the Big Mac popularly called the ‘Maharaja Mac’, the brand researched upon myriad communication tactics that were mainly based on outlet design, new store opening and public relations writing skills to emphasize the brand’s strategic association with India’s magnificent history of royals.
The final phase for PR comes back to research again. Thorough evaluative research is imperative to increase the effectiveness of public relations and marketing communications that complement the role of public relations in an organization.
Before SARS had hit China in the early 2000s, Alibaba was known to deal as a B2B commerce site. Deciphering the disruptive power of SARS, they invested in consumer-facing technology, launched TaoBao, and pivoted the core of its business from B2B to B2C to speed up the adoption of online commerce for consumers. Such instances highlight the need of constant evolutions and resilient marketing to lay a path to recovery.
Certain PR professionals are endowed with the ability to switch from exploiting the existing products to exploring new ones. This could be fueled with either a ramped-up R&D or a quest for an entirely new business model.
For instance, when Microsoft discovered that eliminating the ‘Start’ button in Windows 8 was cumbersome for the user, it restored the button in Windows 8.1. This was widely promoted and published as a step taken to highlight customer-centricity. This highlights that companies that keep the research-based context in the forefront, tend to evolve and develop a futuristic vision, thereby escalating the performance to always remain on the top.
The article is authored by Malika Kulshrestha, Communication Associate, KGK Group