7 Keys To Using Surveys For PR


In public relations, as with with so many practices, having good data is important. Whether your focus is in consumer or B2B tech PR or communications programs for fintech or nonprofit work, being able to serve up precise numbers can go a long way in media relations. Surveys are effective for generating such data. If done well, the facts and figures can be used immediately, and then keep working for months to come. Here are our keys to using surveys effectively for good PR.

Make it super relevant. New stats about snow-related injuries in New York City can make for compelling stories, but if it’s the middle of summer, who cares? Similar to our point about “newsjacking” as an effective way to find a story angle, it’s better to find ways to connect a survey to what’s making headlines right now. Presidential election, anyone?

Don’t get too complicated. If the reader has to struggle or work too hard to understand the math, it’s too complicated. Keep the calculations simple but not dumbed down, and the points streamlined. A good survey should be constructed around a key theme anyway, with some sense of the outcome already in mind from the outset.

Be transparent. Use sound principles and an honest vendor partner (if not conducting the survey in-house), and be able to answer questions about how the survey was conducted. Always be prepared to provide access to the raw data if asked (but not many will ask for it anyway). Cite sources of information, and provide ample context about how and when the survey was done.

But don’t reveal too much. Answer all media’s questions, but you don’t need to reveal every detail. Over explaining tends to bore people, and certain details about how your survey was conducted might make it seem less strong. For example, did you need to cut the respondent pool to 400 from 1,000? Did it take two weeks to achieve the required number of responses? No need to reveal these facts unprompted, and if no one asks, why tell?

Have more than one or two key data points. To ensure good coverage in media, data from a survey must be enough to work as a standalone story, as opposed to one fact woven into a possible story about other things. Make sure survey results are mined and organized in such a way that they reveal several interesting, takeaway points, not just one or two.

But have a clear lead. In providing adequate messaging, however, don’t allow key takeaways to fight for attention or confuse the reader. Include a clear, strong point that can work as a headline, making it easier for journalists to understand what’s most important. Other points should back up, or relate to the lead message.

Keep data on hand for talking points. Compelling facts unearthed by surveys make for great fodder that can be sprinkled throughout media interviews and presentations. Including precise figures adds credibility and gives media and audiences some concrete to latch onto, so be sure to keep a cheat sheet of sorts with relevant points from surveys.

Surveys, Petitions And Polls—Oh My!

The results are in: When looking for a unique angle to promote a client, sometimes it helps to ask for the public’s opinion. Including an omnibus-style survey, social media poll, or even a petition with a slight political bent in your campaign can significantly change the story angle, as well as help the news spread like wildfire. However, each platform requires a little technique. Here are some tips for getting the public to work for you:

Try an online survey. Asking provocative questions via online survey is an easy and affordable way to get a quick sample of public opinion. By asking the right questions, you may be able to put a fresh spin on an over-exposed topic. You might only need one strong question to get the compelling results you need to move the media.

Read the fine print. Nothing’s worse than having great survey results that don’t meet an outlet’s criteria for publication. As easy as online surveys are to conduct, often times, the methodology employed by omnibus polling companies isn’t strict enough for consideration by major outlets. Do your due diligence and make sure you’re not limiting your client’s news by using a survey that isn’t up to par.

Set your budget. Petitions and polls are another creative option for your client to engage with the public. Depending on how large you want your soapbox to be, it may pay to spring for a third-party app to use on social media sites. There are apps for all price points and varying degrees of visibility. Care2, a popular petition website, allows for free and paid petitions to help promote your cause. If you have access to a large budget, Wildfire by Google is another company that provides high-quality content for use on Facebook, creating campaigns from start to finish.

Have a preparedness plan. When you open a public forum, especially one like a petition, be sure to have a plan in place if public opinion takes an unexpected turn or if your petition is lacking respondents. These developments can impact the media’s interest in your campaign and having a contingency plan in place can help move attention from negative to positive.

Overall, adding a survey, poll or petition to a campaign is an interesting way to add depth to a PR plan. Not only does it allow the company to hear valuable public opinion about their industry and company specifically, but it allows them to speak to different media audiences. When looking to break from the routine press release, consider adding one of these tools! Have you used something similar recently? Tell us about it in the comments.