Do you have to be research student in order to stay updated about a brand or a company? Funny question? Irrelevant? Or absolutely out of context because you are reading an article on Public Relations? Actually, think about it.
Research for a communications professional, means understanding what makes the brand or the client share their story in the market. We need to have our knowledge bank completely updated, because that is what will be the shining armour to get a competitive edge.
In simple words, research is that tool which empowers every PR professional. We all need to know everything and anything about the brands we work with. This is imperative, critical and a must-do. Yes, the emphasis is important to understand.
Everytime our brands or clients speak they need to connect with audiences, and this is fairly easier if we know what the audience needs and how we can fill that gap. This is when we use our research to share appropriate stories that can easily be communicated and interweaved to reach our target audience. One needs to explore and equip oneself with everything there is to know about our clients, in order to boost imagination or foster non-linear thinking.
Research doesn’t simply mean reading up the website or scanning social media handles or picking on media coverage. It needs more effort and time. Pick up all the Annual Reports you can read, internal newsletters. Speak to teams who would have curated content for employees as well as external audiences. Videos or photographs from previous events (internal and external) are an impressive tool to understand the leadership. Meet people from different teams within your client’s organisation, pay attention to those encounters and remember the stories or anecdotes they share. All this (and much more) makes a brand.
The stories our clients share become relevant, when they make a personal connection. So stay observant and up your game everyday, because your research will help you your brand ahead in that curve. Always.
Since I got introduced to Starbucks – for their coffee and the brand story – I have been a lover! For many, I may sound like an exaggeration, but I believe that to make a coffee brand as ubiquitous as this brand, is no easy feat. If you go read their brand journey, everything that makes the brand and things you feel have been a culture at Starbucks, all came alive through research. It was simply understanding their customers, the employee speaks, any internal & external ideas. They focus a lot on working closely with the local market teams to understand the culture and need gap, all this based on their extensive research. This has been an example of how Communications can resonate with brand relevance.
Like the other side of the coin, there can be consequences when one misses out on the right piece of information. And any example that you pick from the ‘Crisis Communications’ handbook, will state it truthfully. Yes, crisis probably emanates from an error or something being overlooked. And that applies to each case study for Communications & PR as well. Maggi came back with the right emotional story that all of us resonated with. But did we change our hearts when Johnson & Johnson said they were safe for babies? The Oil spill had us all wondering about the loss and technical incompetence, any communication to contain it didn’t really create enough magic. And one can list many such instances.
People make stories. People love stories. And everyone loves sharing that unique story. So go back to your drawing board, learn and read all you can to know your client, to know your brand. Coming up with the right message can prove to be harder than you imagine. Hang in there and let your information bank work for you.
So Gear up and do lots of research!