Week 1: Introduction to Public Relations Research

Week 1: Introduction to Public Relations Research

“Welcome Video…Course Introduction …Introduction to PR Research …Research in PR Part 1 – Research ON and FOR Public Relation…Research in PR Part 2 – The Significance and Application of Research in PR…Applied vs Academic Research Part 1 – Agenda and Goals of Research…Applied vs Academic Research Part 2 – Interpretation and Information Use…Applied vs Academic Research Part 3 – Research Contribution…Research Methods in PR Part 1 – Information…Research Methods in PR Part 2 – Quantitative and Qualitative Research Methods Introduction…”


  • Welcome Video
  • Course Introduction
  • Introduction to PR Research
  • Research in PR Part 1 - Research ON and FOR Public Relation
  • Research in PR Part 2 - The Significance and Application of Research in PR
  • Applied vs Academic Research Part 1 - Agenda and Goals of Research
  • Applied vs Academic Research Part 2 - Interpretation and Information Use
  • Applied vs Academic Research Part 3 - Research Contribution
  • Research Methods in PR Part 1 - Information Collection
  • Research Methods in PR Part 2 - Quantitative and Qualitative Research Methods

Welcome Video

  • Hi, welcome to this specialization on public relations and digital media.
  • Together we will introduce you to public relations as an area of practice.
  • The key concepts of public relations and the reason which you’ll be able to apply these concepts.
  • Public relations are the practice of developing and managing relationships between organizations and their important audiences also referred to as publics.
  • Do you want to talk a little bit about how public relation affects contacts across the globe? Yes, you’re absolutely right, Tracy.
  • Ischia, what are some of the key threads that are consistent across cultures?   Well some of the things that in public relations is to understand the process of PR is very important, as this process works quite similarly across cultures and contexts.
  • We know the value of public relations strategy, research and tactics as the anchors for learning about PR. In this course we will talk about these key elements of PR practice and explore how we can apply them to solving problems.
  • We will do this in specialization is to take you through a journey of public relations in a digital world.
  • I will begin by introducing you to the practice of public relations.
  • And I will follow that course up with important elements of research, the process of research in PR. I will be teaching the second course Public Relation Research.
  • I love new communication technologies; we are surrounded by digital media.
  • The capstone experience will sum up all the key elements of public relations you have learned through the previous four courses.
  • In the capstone, we will pair you up with an industry partner to offer you a public relations problem to work on.
  • So welcome to the specialization, Public Relations and Digital Media, offered by the Department of Communications and New Media at the National University of Singapore.
  • At NUS, we are constantly innovating on new communication technologies, new communication practices and using communication solutions to address social problems across the world.
  • We love the opportunity to make positive impact on society, influencing public opinion and public policy through the power of communication.

Course Introduction

  • I will guide you through the next four modules on public relations research.
  • I am a researcher whose interest lies in between pure and pragmatic research.
  • My academic research focuses on making the article contribution, and my applied research has practical implications in real life settings.
  • Academic research is directed towards expanding our knowledge, and applied research is directed at problem solving.
  • The first module will provide you with an introduction to public relations research.
  • The third module will give you the research tools that will enable you to design and conduct research to solve a PR problem.
  • Let’s begin with the first module, Introduction to Public Relations Research.

Introduction to PR Research

  • By the end of this module, you’ll be able to learn the importance of research and PR. Know how PR research is similar to and different from academic research.
  • You will also learn how research and PR is used as a management function, as well as have an overview of research methods used in PR research.
  • To define a PR problem, you will learn about formative research that helps you assess and analyze the situation to be addressed.
  • After we walk through the steps of formative research, you will know how to define an issue and plan to address that issue through applied research.
  • Summative research evaluates the impact and effectiveness of a program.
  • After we walk through the stage of evaluation research, you will be able to design and plan evaluation research to be conducted at the end of a communication program.
  • You may wonder why research is vital for PR management.
  • Research allows strategic planning and decision making which moves PR to a management function.
  • Research makes communication two ways by allowing you to engage with the public.
  • Research ensures strategic communication with the public based on their needs and wants.
  • Research allows you to measure impact of your communication efforts to show effectiveness of your program.
  • Public relations research is an essential component of a management function.
  • Public relations research aims to build two way communications with the public.
  • Research makes communication two ways allowing you to engage in a dialogue with the public’s.
  • Public relations research identifies issues, engages in problem solving, and measures impact.

Research in PR Part 1 – Research ON and FOR Public Relation

  • Research in PR, research on PR, and research for PR. This section on research in PR is divided into two videos, so you will need to connect the topics mentioned here with the next video.
  • At the end of part one you will know what, when and how research on and for PR is significant.
  • Research on PR is research conducted by academic scholars.
  • A researcher may want to study how PR uses social media during a crisis.
  • Another researcher may take the same theory and ask, how public behave in social media during a crisis? That researcher may ask, how do the public respond to PR messages on social media during a crisis? Whether the focus is on the organization or the publics response are both.
  • In terms of improving the profession we may learn through either of those research findings, the most effective uses, response, and dialogue on social media during a crisis.
  • Taking social media as an example to research on PR. Scholars have identified what works and what doesn’t work on social media.
  • Research for PR is also research conducted by academic scholars.
  • The major difference is that research on PR uses existing theory to explain something and research for PR drives new theories and new theoretical understanding.
  • Scholars have identified best practices for crisis communication, for issue management to research on PR. While others have developed new theoretical ideas such as symmetrical communication, situation analysis, research for PR, which uses best practices with theoretical ideas that can be used in the practice of PR. In the next lesson of recession PR part two, I will walk you through research in PR. This is the research that you will conduct as a PR practitioner.

Research in PR Part 2 – The Significance and Application of Research in PR

  • In part one of Research in PR, you learned what, when and how research on and for PR is significant.
  • At the end of part two you will have a clear idea of the significance and application of research in PR. While research on and for PR is academic research, research in PR is research that you would conduct as a practitioner.
  • Programmatic research is a way to continually assess organization’s position among its public.
  • Programmatic research begins with formative research, which we will discuss in module two.
  • Formative research helps to identify the situation and the problem that needs to be addressed.
  • What could be a PR problem here that you may want to research as a PR practitioner? A, rebuilding trust with your key publics after a crisis.
  • As a PR practitioner, you focus on a problem and conduct research to solve that problem.
  • To recap, research in PR is applied strategic research, and research on and for PR are abstract and theoretical academic research.
  • Research in PR helps transition public relations from technical to a management function.
  • Research in PR allows practitioners to demonstrate efficacy of programs.
  • Research in PR is programmatic research that ensures organizations are responsive and responsible to their public.
  • Programmatic research ensures that research is continual process that ensures proactive public relations research that focuses not only on issues but also to anticipate problems before it arises.

Applied vs Academic Research Part 1 – Agenda and Goals of Research

  • I explained in research in PR Part one and two, the differences between three types of PR research.
  • Research in PR is what practitioners use and is understood as applied research.
  • Whenever I discuss PR research here on, I am referring to research in PR, which is applied research.
  • What then is academic and applied research? At the end of this section, you will learn the five major differences between academic and applied research.
  • Part one will focus on two major differences, agenda and goals of the research.
  • Why do we conduct research? The agenda of conducting research differs.
  • An academic research is often driven by the interest of the researcher.
  • An applied research is needs driven that addresses a specific situation that has to be addressed.
  • Researching PR for Nestle now has to focus on amending the broken trust with its public and such as Reactive PR. Proactive PR is driven by the needs of the organization to address an issue before it becomes a crisis.
  • Academic research explores new areas of expanding of our knowledge, while applied research is focused on problem solving.
  • From the Nestle and Lacto free examples, you can see that research can be proactive or reactive.
  • Either way, the goal of applied research is problem solving.
  • Reactive research in PR for Nestle could be to identify how to address the lack of trust in Nestlé’s food quality.
  • While the goal of proactive research in PR, could be to change attitude towards dairy free products.
  • In either case, an academic researcher would be interested in best practices for PR practitioners when dealing with changing attitudes and perceptions or when rebuilding trust.

Applied vs Academic Research Part 2 – Interpretation and Information Use

  • In part one of Applied versus Academic Research, you learned about the agenda and goals that differentiate academic and applied research.
  • What do you do once you have the information you wanted? Academic Research focuses on theoretical implications and Applied Research focuses on practical recommendations that are aimed to solve a problem, an issue.
  • Once the research is completed that allows you to define a PR problem to formative research what do you do next? In the case of Nestle Lactose-free, a formative research is followed by stage two which allows you to strategize, how best to address this issue you have identified as necessary to be resolved.
  • The findings of Academic Research are often shared through publications such as journals, books, articles, and sometimes through different media outlets.
  • The information you may find when you search Google with the keywords about the Nestle India crisis for example, are going to be information based on research conducted by a researcher.
  • You may find statements from Leslie PR about their research findings, but unlike Academic Research the data isn’t going to be available for the public to access and use.
  • In part three, I will explain the significance of Applied and Academic Research.

Applied vs Academic Research Part 3 – Research Contribution

  • What contributions does academic and applied research make? What impact can the information have? Academic research leads to building knowledge, introducing new theory or testing an existing one.
  • Applied research informs program planning, allows refinement of existing programs, primarily ensuring problem solving and issue management.
  • Although research in PR is programmatic, based on continuous assessment, it is dependent on the need and objectives of the organization, which means the research is centered around program planning, designing, implementing and evaluating.
  • Applied research is PR practitioners conducting research driven by the need of the organization or the public.
  • Applied research is focused on practical solutions and academic research is aimed at expanding knowledge.
  • Needs-driven research is focused on solving a problem, an issue, while the main purpose of academic research is to discover, to explain and expand what we already know.
  • Applied research allows strategic planning of communication strategies to address issues.

Research Methods in PR Part 1 – Information Collection

  • In Part One I will cover what formal and informal information and what primary and secondary research means.
  • Can you use information someone else has already collected to help you make strategic decisions, or do you have to collect your own information to make strategic decisions? Before you decide which research method is best, when you need to keep three things in mind.
  • Do you need formal or informal information? Do you need conduct primary or secondary research? Do you use qualitative or quantitative method to collect information you need? Formal research is structured and systematic method of analyzing, collecting and analyzing information you collect.
  • In module three, I will discuss in detail formal primary research in PR. Informal research occurs ad hoc and without any agreed upon rules and procedures.
  • Primary research means any data collected by the practitioner or the researcher for a particular purpose.
  • Primary data, depending on whether it is research in PR or research on or for PR, become propriety, or public information.
  • While primary research allows you to collect focused and tailored information that addresses your specific needs, it tends to be time consuming, expensive, and in need of well trained personnel.

Research Methods in PR Part 2 – Quantitative and Qualitative Research Methods

  • In Part One, you learned what formal and informal information, and what primary and secondary research means.
  • There are two qualitative research methods that a pr practitioner would use.
  • These are often used in person and are useful at formative stages of research.
  • There are two quantitative research methods that a pr practitioner could use- surveys and content analysis.
  • I will discuss the detail of each of these research methods in module three.
  • In order to move PR from technical to management function, strategic decision-making should be supported by formal primary research.
  • Formal research is based on systematic way of collecting information.
  • Primary research is information that you collect yourself based on the needs identified.
  • Formal primary research then, provides evidence to support strategic decisions.
  • Research makes PR strategic, substantiates decisions, and allows you to show results.
  • Research helps you strategize the best action to take to solve an issue, substantiate the recommendations you make in terms of the best actions.
  • Research methods in PR should be driven by what the goal of the research is.
  • In module two, you will learn the importance, the significance, and how to conduct formative research.

Return to Summaries.

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