Why Research At All?

Research is the number one most important part of any project that appeals to a customer base. Although sometimes certain research can be deemed “invasive” or “unethical” by many, the use of research at all is so imperative. The point of research is analyzing the target demographic you’re looking to reach. Through this, research allows you to view certain patterns, trends, likes, dislikes, so on and so forth.

Through these analytics, research helps predict what future, patterns, trends, likes and dislikes will look like. From this informed prediction, a Public Relations team can then create a strategy they deem will be successful in that researched environment.

“Public relations is an art and a science focused on finding the best strategies and tactics to accomplish a client’s objectives. This knowledge comes from a mix of experience, an understanding of the media and the client and quality research”(Mitchell Communications Group 2013). This came from an article titled “Public Relations :The Value and Importance of Research” and I believe this sums up the importance and relevance in PR in a more clear and concise manner than I could have. This article goes even further in depth talking about what exactly research is and what it entails.  The Mitchell Communications group operates research on three levels :basic, intermediate and advanced research. By this they mean research ranges from setting online alerts for clients or specific topics all the way to statistical analysis of consumer and stakeholder data.

Now from this research, we can learn a lot about a person, or company, or customer. Sometimes, we can learn too much. As technology has advanced and supplemented research. The ability to invade privacy through a new medium has advanced as well. Now being an Ad and PR student, I’m sure everyone in my program has heard of the “cookies”horror stories of how certain website analytics have gone too far. Nonetheless, it still is fascinating to me and I love discussing the ethical dilemmas that arise with tracking online activity as part of research. The most notorious story I’ve heard is that of “How Target Figured Out A Teen Girl Was Pregnant Before Her Father Did” which was a featured story on Forbes.com by Kashmir Hill. In this real life nightmare, Target used its analytics program to track what products people were searching for based on their pregnancy due date and would send coupons that were fitting for the time in theory pregnancy. This tactic went wrong when a father received the coupons addressed to his teenage daughter and contacted Target management upset thinking that Target was promoting his teenage daughter to become pregnant.

The use of cookies although is quite handy, time saving and convenient from an advertising, marketing, PR perspective, can be completely intrusive on the other end. How can a computer take the time and consideration to use its discretion about certain topics? The answer is it can’t and thats where the problem lies.

Overall however, Research can be done manually and can be done equally as effectively. In the CAP 115 textbook “Advertising and public relations research” by Donald W Jugenheimer, plenty of research methods are giving without any sort of use of cookies or google Analytic type programs. From planning and designing primary research such as focus groups and surveys, one can reach a vary similar outcome to their research question by only using a fraction of the sample group. 

Regardless of how large or small scale research is done, it is effective and necessary to any successful  PR campaign.



  • Hill, Kashmir. (2012). How Target Figured Out A Teen Girl Was Pregnant Before Her Father Did. Forbes. retrieved from  http://www.forbes.com/sites/kashmirhill/2012/02/16/how-target-figured-out-a-teen-girl-was-pregnant-before-her-father-did/#47b2ed2f34c6
  • Jugenheimer, D. W. (2014). Advertising and public relations research (Second ed.). Armonk, New York: M.E. Sharpe.
  • Mitchell Communications Group. (2013). Public Relations: The Value and Importance of Research. Mitchell. retrieved from http://blog.mitchcommgroup.com/mitchell-communications-group/public-relations-the-value-and-importance-of-research

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