Research in PR

Foreward by Prof. Jerry Gana
Preface by Senator J. M. Kuye
Financial Environment
Public Finance
Financial Institutions
Public Relations Concepts
Financial Public Relations
Marketing Concepts
Advertising and Integrated Communication
In-House and Consultancy
Target Publics
Research in PR
Budgeting in PR
Planning in PR
Regulating Financial Information
Getting Started and PR Unit
Basic Functions
Requirement for Media Event
Annual Events
Social Responsibility
Information Technology
Reputation Management
Crises Management
Media of FPR
Corporate Identification
Building Brand
Membership of Professional Bodies
Conduct and Ethical Standards
Appendix NIPR Code
Appendix II: IPR Code
Appendix III: PRSA Code
Appendix IV: IPRA Code
Contributions and Reviews



In his book Precious Public Relations (1988), Eldon-Hiebert Ray aptly sums up the essence of research in Public relations practice thus: “Public Relations practitioners who ignore research will soon discover that they too are ignored”


Eldon-Hiebert’s observation could not be limited to the PR practitioners alone but all those that are responsible for addressing social changes and trends towards improving the performances of their organisations.


Keeping track of happenings is the fastest area of any given research. Social audit research, which is common in the financial sector for systematic and analytical examination of social performances as related to the organisation, is quite inevitable in providing solutions to a myriad of problems relating to financial public relations.


In fact, public relations research, as with other management researches, is at present defined by the uses to which research is put. The essence of the research is to study the publics’ knowledge and understanding, their opinions, attitudes, preference and motivating factors that influence their decisions.


According to Otto Lerbinger, a professor of economics and PR expert, studies have shown that the greatest current interest is in four areas: environment monitoring, public relations audit (public opinion), communication audit (media research) and social audit which all rely much on seeking public opinion on an organisation’s rating among its target publics


(a)        Environment Monitoring: Here, an organisation investigates the happenings in its surrounding environment, which could be the community in which it is based, or the country of its operation, to enable it knows the consequences of its actions. New trends in the society such as democracy and crime rate, may affect, directly or indirectly, its existence.


(b).       Public Opinion: Some analysts also call this Public Relations Audit. As the name implies, the PR office can seek to investigate and understand the public perception, attitudinal and behavioural patterns on the organisation. The research must attempt to answer basic questions such as those relating to how favourable its image is, ways of redeeming a bad image and the best ways of doing such.


(c).       Media Research: This is also referred to as Communication Audit, which is the mainstream of public relations research. This is where a study is conducted on the most appropriate style of reaching the public, the method, channels and the impact of the message as it is delivered. Such researches involve a lot of surveys on readership, media circulation, popular media events, content analyses of editorials and in-depth reports and advertising effectiveness, amongst others. When to use the media, which type of media, which page or time and date and the target readership, are research themes. If studied properly, it would be helpful in deciding how to reach the public and get the best results from the messages conveyed.


(d).       Social Audit: This is a study of social performance and effect of the organisation on its publics. Recommendations are made for a consultant or independent auditor to assess the impact of all the public relations activities and measure their relevance in meeting its target. Like financial firms where external auditors are required to examine the financial account, the PR functions too can be examined to measure up its performance by an independent body.


The emergence of financial public relations has provided the focus for a wide discourse on the role of financial institutions in imparting adequate knowledge to the public, not only in developed economies, but also in developing nations.


The starting point for the acceptance of financial public relations functions is the greater awareness that companies and other financial institutions have roles to play in reaching their publics and establishing, as well as retaining their confidence for reciprocal appreciation and beneficial relationship through a well-conducted research.

To avoid assumptions, guessing and trial-and-error approaches, which may damage the image of the organisation, the public relations research is employed to understand a particular problem with a view to proffering appropriate strategies to maintain and improve the reputation of the organisation in the society.


Financial institutions believe in quantified plans of action. Therefore, to receive management confidence and trust, the public relations unit must always present well-researched proposals laced with facts and justifiable reasons, which are needed for effective planning, execution and feedback. It must also propose, by research, budget and short-term, medium-term and long-term range plans, outlining aims/objectives and expected results. It will surely be suicidal if a programme is embarked upon without research. In fact, a research should be undertaken to determine the budgeting needs. This will entail identifying activities relating to corporate plans, outlining the objectives, the audience, message, timing and the cost.


Basically, issues in PR research using survey research technique, may include examining how the publics see and how the organisation wants to be seen, whether or not it is well understood through the appropriate channels; if it receives adequate and favourable mention by the media and what are those problems encountered by the publics; whether or not competitors fare better and what are the strength and weaknesses that can be worked on. Certain ways of doing things may also need to be maintained, improved upon or changed entirely.


Many have always talked about marketing research, which is the sampling of the market of products and services in a particular (given) environment. Public relations research however, may be distinct in many ways depend on the techniques and channels adopted. In fact, opinion research is synonymous with public relations practice. Even when marketing research fails to achieve better response from unwilling respondents to enquiries, PR can assist in such exercise by employing effective persuasive methods to achieve good results.


Basically, like an academic research in higher institutions, a comprehensive research in public relations may involve the basic stages which include identifying the problems, aims and objectives, reviewing the literature, definition of terms, designing questionnaires, data interpretation, suggestions, recommendations and conclusions. Other researchers may adopt lighter methods, which may include, but not limited to introduction, identified problems and recommendations/conclusions.


Many types of research in public relations are frequently mentioned, but the most recognised are the following:


(a).       Desk Research- As the name implies, it is a one-position research which is gathered from existing data conducted by others through surveys, interviews or reports. Permission of the authors of the original works must be sought before it is used. One advantage is that it is cheaper and quick to gather.


(b).       Ad-hoc Research- This involves going out to conduct the research when materials or documents are not available on the matter/issue.


(c).       Continuous Research- This is good for continued monitoring of the trends, behaviours and reactions of the public on particular products/programmes. This is done through the media and by seeking public opinion through administration of questionnaires.


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