Browse any (non-BBC) newspaper or news website and you will likely see a headline like “76 percent of Brits believe….” or “A third of people think….”. Here’s one example; and another. Surveys and research are big business and, quite often, have little purpose other than marketing.
There are lots of businesses very happy to take a company’s dollar in exchange for a (often not particularly) headline grabbing survey or piece of research. As the examples above show – this approach can work in providing some media profile for a company, but is it the right tactic for you?

What do you want to say?

Famously (as shown in this clip from Yes Prime Minister from the 1980s) if you ask the right questions you are likely to get the right answers.

It’s certainly true that the purpose of some surveys or research projects is to generate a certain kind of headline – one that is favourable to the needs of the company doing the research. But these projects tend to be weeded out quickly by reputable journalists and news outlets.

It’s often more effective to look at the sources of data that you have as a business – such as customer insight; data from website visits; sales patterns – and compare these to specific triggers: such as time of the day/month/year or even weather patterns to see if there is an interesting correlation. Not only does this provide critical insight for the business, it may also be genuinely newsworthy for the media. Either way, it is likely to deliver more than one day headlines and can be used as the basis for months of thought leadership articles, ‘how to’ guides and other content for both traditional and social media.

What makes research newsworthy?

The best research will be relevant, insightful, and timely. Your audience should be able to engage with what you are telling them, while learning something new that is relevant to them right now.

We recently did some research around online sales for a client and it became apparent that there were certain days of the day/week/month when people simply do not buy from them. This had an impact on how and when we communicated with the audience and the kinds of response rates this generated.

The current third lockdown in the UK is a great opportunity to look at your data for any newsworthy nuggets that might appear. We know more people will be buying online right now – that’s a given. More interesting is what are they buying? What is their journey to purchase and how? This might not only provide a low-cost route to some relevant media profile for your company but also provide important insight to help shape marketing that generates real sales.