When I was assigned to be the research director of Broad Magnolias, I was excited, yet quite nervous to step into the role. I had taken the required research course and thought that I was prepared for the task. As someone who constantly asks “why” and conducts Google searches as a hobby, I was eager to learn more about research and see what we could learn through our efforts. However, I quickly learned that research was not for the weak.
Research is one of the most essential tools for almost any field or discipline, but especially in PR. It was especially important for us in building the foundation of our campaign for Youth Oasis. If we were going to plan a comprehensive, yearlong campaign, we’d need to do some digging not only into the nature and culture of the organization, but also the community atmosphere and the organization’s key publics.
Similar to writing, research is important because it permeates the process from start to finish. From the moment we first heard from our clients, our research began. We had to research each company’s background to figure our which organization we wanted to work for and to prepare for our first client meeting. From deciding which publics to target to choosing the best methods and media to use to reach our goals, research was involved at each step. I found this to be the most challenging aspect of the entire process. Just when I thought my search was complete, there was something else that needed to be looked into.
When we finally had enough information, we created the questionnaire. This type of research specifically is called applied research. It goes beyond just finding out information just for knowledge’s sake; you have to use what you find to get a specified result. As an agency, we found that our research was the foundation to our entire campaign. It shaped and determined how we would move forward with our planning.
The survey has to follow the guidelines set by the Institutional Review Board. The IRB makes sure that research involving the biomedical or behavioral research involving humans is ethical and appropriate. This includes making sure that our questions are worded properly, consent forms are accurate and thorough, and that all group members are trained and qualified to conduct research.
Our final steps will be to analyze our data and send out a post-survey to track our progress in reaching our goals. We learned very quickly, that research was a task that required the input of the entire team because its results affected each aspect of the campaign from design to event planning. Join us again next week to keep up with the Broad Magnolias journey. If you’d like to follow Youth Oasis, like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.