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NEWS GEN RESEARCH: DO A PROPER JOB OF IT, OR DON’T DO IT ALL

March 9, 2017

By Harriet Scott

When did news gen research become the bargain basement activity of the public relations world?

I would love to know how much cash is squandered by the PR industry each year on cheap, poorly thought out and badly executed PR research which will NEVER see the light of day – never mind the MailOnline.

I’ve lost count of the number of times a PR has come to us and said: “We’ve done this research and it hasn’t landed – can you help?”….

While we always do our very best to find a news line in anyone else’s research, there is really very little we can do when we are presented with five, completely unrelated questions which do not hang together to create any form of potential narrative or news story.

Our first question is usually – “Who did the research for you?”.

More often than not it is a “polling company” who either has absolutely no knowledge of how to make news gen ACTUALLY work – or even worse, does have an idea, but didn’t push back on the angle because they just wanted to take your money.

When did we, as an industry, start to devalue this important PR tool to such an extent that we’re willing to take the cheapest research option which usually results in little or no coverage whatsoever?

And our senior level newspaper and online news desk contacts all agree.

In fact someone I know who news edits a national newspaper said to me the other day “most PR surveys are a complete waste of time”.

Then why aren’t we learning from this?

At a time when national coverage is harder to achieve and the news agenda is crazy – we should be UPPING our game – not heading for the lowest common denominator in a race to the bottom for the cheapest services.

Because PR research, if done properly and executed well still works really, really well.

I know this, because (having done this for longer than I would care to admit) we consult and deliver stat based news coverage week in and week out for some of the UK’s biggest brands and PR agencies.

And making it work means NOT scrimping on questions, seeking proper advice from news gen experts (beware the charlatans who claim to be news gurus), stepping away from the brand or product and being creative with your ideas.

Try to break the mould on what’s been done before, have an idea what the end result is going to be, pitch it right and sell it in well – I could go with pointers on how to make news gen work but that’s a separate post.

My point is that if you’re going to do new gen, do it properly or it’s just a waste of time, money and effort. Sending bad research based press releases to journalists does your brand or client no favours whatsoever.

As Albert Einstein said “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.

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