Research Basics

Research is highly beneficial in any field. No matter what subject matter, research is the key to success. An excellent summation of the purpose of research is this, “Research provides the information required to understand the needs of publics and to develop powerful messages (Wilcox, Cameron, Reber, & Shin, 2013, p. 90).” By doing research a company, person, or organization is able to better define the objectives of their task. Research is used to find an effective strategy in solving a problem. Through research it is possible to discover the potential competition for a company, product, idea, etc. To be successful, it is essential to keep up with competition, updates in technology, and updates in the industry. It is important to focus on growth opportunities within your agency because if you don’t someone else will (Rosen, 2015, para. 6). One of the best ways to avoid failure is to note the failures of others. Research helps businesses avoid failures by identifying the problems and addressing them with solutions (Rosen, 2015, para. 7).  According to Bowman (2012, para. 2), learning the facts and figures through research allows one to be more equipped to understand the issue and to make the best decisions to meet the goals.

Why doesn’t everyone enjoy research?

Knowing that research can provide such essential information provokes the question of why some people don’t enjoy the research step. I believe the main reasons are that research is tedious, boring, and time consuming. Research is essential for a public relations activity, but it is not always exciting or eye opening (Wilcox, Cameron, Reber, & Shin, 2013, p. 90). If the researcher doesn’t know what they are looking for, or the right questions to ask to find what they are looking for, research can feel never ending. It can also feel like a waste of time because they may find only failures and not find any solutions. To make things worse, for those who don’t enjoy research to begin with, the research they do may not lead to any answer at all. Some people lack the motivation it takes to start and complete the research process.

Research in Public Relations

While research isn’t the most appealing step in the process of successful public relations (PR) affairs, it is necessary. Public relations is a process, the best way to summarize that process is the RACE acronym. This acronym starts with research then continues with action, communication, and evaluation. The textbook Think highlights the importance of research for planning, program development, and the measurement process (Wilcox, Cameron, Reber, & Shin, 2013, p. 90). Research allows the PR agency to gain background information about the product, campaign, or company they are going to be involved with. This background information is needed to make decisions and map out strategies. Going into the first consultation already having background information saves time and allows the PR agent to discuss other strategies instead of doing tedious introductory work. In order for a PR strategy to be successful research is essential. An agency needs to be able to “provide evidence of the effectiveness of their activities (Brunner, 2003, p. 420).” It’s important to know what has worked in the past in successful campaigns, what has failed, and what has been done previously to help find an original idea. There is a lot to be learned from other agencies as well. Looking at the ways other PR agencies have solved issues or problems for their clients could give insight on how to solve your client’s problem. The agency may not have an immediate solution or insight on what to do about a problem, however, using research to their advantage they can appear as if they have all the answers. It is recommended that 5-10% of a budget be spent on researching (Wilcox, Cameron, Reber, & Shin, 2013, p. 91).

Research must be the first step in the process of an effective public relations communication. It must come first because the information discovered will be used through every other step of the communication process. Through research, public relations practitioners should be able to collect and interpret data (Wilcox, Cameron, Reber, & Shin, 2013, p. 90). Research will help to better define the audience and target market. It is important to understand your audience and be able to appeal to them. Before any strategy can be created the target market must be defined. Using the target market and the data that was collected the public relations practitioner can then formulate plans and strategies. Beyond creating a strategy, research can also help to prevent a crisis from occurring. “Research can often uncover trouble spots and public concerns before they become news (Wilcox, Cameron, Reber, & Shin, 2013, p. 94).” Without research many of the strategies, communications, and campaigns put together by public relations practitioners would not be possible. In order to get to the next steps in the public relations process using the RACE acronym, the research must be completed first. The information found in the research process will allow the action, communication, and evaluation steps to occur successfully.





Bowman, C. (2012, April 6). Research Strategies | Why is Research so Important? Retrieved September 12, 2016, from

Brunner, B. R. (2003). The importance of research to public relations. Review Of Communication, 3(4), 420. doi:10.1080/1535859032000106327

Rosen, D. (2015, September 28). Do Your Research! 6 Reasons Why Research is So Important for Your Business. Retrieved September 12, 2016, from

Wilcox, D. L., Cameron, G. T., Reber, B. H., & Shin, J. (2013). Think Public Relations. Boston: Pearson.



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