Research for PR Playbook: Test, don’t ask

People lie, both in real life and in surveys. However, by constructing your survey in the right way, you can start to see through some of these deceptions, providing you with unparalleled insights.

There’s two ways to go about using research to test ideas. The simpler version is to use a quiz format. You can look at the results work out the biggest gaps in public knowledge – whether it’s about British history or the prices of supermarket products.

The second, more sophisticated approach usually involves splitting your sample in two or more ways and comparing the differences. For example, rather than asking people whether they think chocolate influences their decisions, why not ask them to think about chocolate and then measure the difference it makes to their decisions compared to those who haven’t thought about it?

If you can show a real difference between your groups, you’re onto a really powerful story that not only describes, but explains.

Things to remember:

  • We can help! – this kind of approach is a bit fiddly and requires a careful construction, but if you have an idea, give us a ring and we can help you find the right methodology
  • Think about words – naturally, we can’t ask a survey respondent to do anything in the real world, so this approach works best when you’re thinking about the impact of words and communication on beliefs and attitudes

Some examples