Should You Continue to Research During a Global Pandemic?

The answer is YES! Research is an essential part of public relations. It is used as a tool to prevent crises, develop strategies, reach target audiences, generate publicity, monitor competition, test messages and sustain credibility. 

Currently, we all are experiencing a global pandemic. With this pandemic, there are safety guidelines that must be followed: social distancing, working from home and wearing appropriate face coverings. These restrictions can make it harder to collect and analyze data; however, safety is a top priority, and as PR professionals, we should take this time as an opportunity to learn and adapt. 

Primary research

This is the method of gathering original information directly from subjects or real-world observations, such as surveys, interviews, focus groups, observations and experiments. This form of research usually involves more face-to-face interactions; however, these tactics need to be altered for a more socially distanced approach. 

  • Surveys are still an effective option for collecting data; for example, social media apps like Instagram and Snapchat allow users to create and publish their own surveys, which their followers can answer and send feedback. Other forms of surveys like mail and email can still be organized and distributed while following the current safety guidelines. 
  • Interviews can still be managed virtually through WebEx and Zoom calls; this allows the interviewer and the interviewee to talk face-to-face while remaining socially distant. 
  • Focus groups can also be carried out virtually through WebEx and Zoom calls. The focus group’s moderator and participants can still communicate efficiently, and data can be collected safely from home. 
  • Observations can still be recorded by staying 6 feet away from people, wearing a mask and taking proper safety precautions. 

Preliminary research

Preliminary research, also known as secondary research, is the process of gathering existing information. Sources include published studies, reports, library databases, social media or search engines. It costs less and requires less time than primary research. With the technological advances we have today, we should continue to take advantage of the Internet; however, if you visit libraries or other public places, continue to wear a mask and sanitize your workspace. 

Though this is an unprecedented time, we can continue to conduct research, safely, by using these new modifications. Consider how you can safely apply primary and preliminary research in your next campaign. Though it may take creative thinking, conducting targeted research will ensure your next campaign is well-informed and resonates with its target audience.

Molly Anderson

Molly Anderson is a public relations major with a minor in marketing at Central Michigan University. She is involved in PRSSA, PR Central and the Society of Women in Business. Being a part of PRSSA has helped Anderson enhance her writing skills, build relationships, and gain hands on experience. She is excited to continue to learn and grow in the world of PR.

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