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Best Practices for a Modern PR Campaign: Research the Brand

January 19, 2023 (6 min read)
Conduct research about the brand

A PR campaign is like the most magnificent tree you’ve ever seen, and if it’s done correctly, you can build a whole content forest. But you need a solid foundation from which the tree (the brand) can grow. That comes from a thorough understanding of a brand’s history and current place in the market at the roots of the tree.  

That means you must put your investigative reporter’s cap on and make a list of questions, and always consider what may be the most important question, the one that makes up the heartwood of the tree: What is the story you want to tell?

In this blog, we’ll cover how to start your brand research, what questions to ask about the brand and how media intelligence solutions can give you confidence in your research so you can run your perfect PR campaign.

How to conduct brand research

You can’t have a truly successful PR campaign without efficient and effective brand research. Good research gives you a baseline knowledge of how your brand is perceived and the place it holds in the market compared to the competition.

A great way to start this is by doing a SWOT analysis. Take an internal deep dive by looking at the brand’s strengths—what it excels at and what separates it from the competition. Then look at its weaknesses—what it needs to improve to remain relevant and competitive. After that, consider external factors that affect the brand---opportunities, such as trends, and threats, such as the competition.

From there, take it a step further by asking probing questions to get to get a deeper understanding of your brand position. Here are some ideas to consider.

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What is the primary objective of your PR campaign?

This is the most important starting question because it tells you how to start your research. The goal of your PR campaign should align with your overall business goals. Once you know that, you can create a campaign goal that is specific and measurable.

For example, think about positioning your CEO as a thought leader in a unique field related to your business, and consider a goal around securing a specific number of media placements. Or maybe look at raising your brand’s domain authority score by increasing backlinks by a certain percentage.

Defining goals aligned with your business objectives will help you focus your research about how your brand is perceived and who would be your evangelists as you begin your campaign.  

Also, don’t bog your campaign down with too many objectives. It’s better to have a campaign that’s smaller in scope with a clear objective and trackable KPIs than a larger campaign that tries to accomplish far too much with vague parameters for success.

What are the existing key messages and how do they resonate?

Taking the time to understand how your brand currently positions itself in the market will give you a baseline understanding of where you’re at.

Which value props does your brand champion above others? Do you lead with affordable pricing or breadth of functionality and ease of use (depending on your industry)?

Once you know how your brand is currently marketing itself, find out its messages are resonating in the media with consumers. This is another reason why clear and trackable KPIs are beneficial because they allow you to see which messages are driving consumers to take a desired action.

Knowing the answer to this question allows you to shape your new campaign based on your current messaging, meaning you won’t have to totally reinvent the wheel.

What has been tried in the past?

Once you understand your brand’s current standing and messaging in the market, take time to learn about what your brand and its competitors have tried in the past. Depending on the specific market and industry, certain kinds of messaging may fall flat with consumers.

For example, it can be easy to assume that an audience of software users cares more about the functionality and intuitiveness of a product’s dashboard than pricing, at least up to a point. However, if researching previous campaigns reveals that prior messaging on pricing did in fact help to drive interest and conversion, this insight can be taken into consideration when determining your new campaign’s messaging.

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Which executives are the right spokespeople?

As your flesh out and finalize your messaging, you’ll need the right person to present that messaging to your audience.

Let’s say you’re attempting to drive conversion among an audience of software users based on research that indicates pricing and usability are key considerations. The right spokesperson would be an executive who has advocated for the affordability and simplicity of software in the public square.

This means your brand research should encompass fact-gathering on your executives to see who has a media following and a track record of thought-leadership around the topic of your campaign. If there are no executives that meet your goals, then consider expanding your brand research to search for social influencers or other media personalities who can partner with you on your campaign. It’s important that these partners align with your brand’s image and tone to maintain authenticity.

Conducting good research on both executives and potential partners will help you answer these questions and strengthen your overall campaign.

What is the vision for the future?

Answering this question means making sure your PR campaign aligns with the short- and long-term goals of your company. If your company wants to make its software as accessible to as many users as possible, then your affordable pricing may be a great message to lead with.

Conversely, if the company plans to make its software a “luxury” tool among users (e.g., imagine a special effects software so extensive and expansive in its capabilities that only the top-tier movie studios can afford it), then pricing may not be the best campaign message.

Talk to key executives to make sure that your PR story aligns with the overall growth plan.

What is the story you want to tell?

Storytelling is the heart of a PR campaign. It is how you get your audience to care on an emotional or logical level. You want to show your audience that you understand their problems and provide a solution.

But you’ll only be able to shape that story if you know the key brand messages for your product.  This is why you need to do the research to answer the above questions. After you determine your primary objective, learn about what’s currently being tried and how effective past messages have been and understand your company’s vision for the future, you’ll have everything you need to create a story that excites your audience.

Your campaign story is the through-line, a thread that connects the answers to the questions you asked during your brand research. If your brand research is thorough and effective and you’re yielding good insights, your campaign’s story should, with a little bit of brainstorming, rise to the surface.

Media Intelligence solutions for conducting effective brand research

Answering the above questions is essential to planting the roots of a solid brand story. Some of this research will be done via conversations, like talking to executives to learn their areas of expertise or interviewing customers about their pain points. Other aspects need more in-depth data analysis. That’s where the media monitoring and social listening tools in Nexis Newsdesk™ can help.

With Newsdesk, PR professionals can conduct 24/7 monitoring on brand-related topics across more than 100,000 news sources around the globe, 150 million websites and 2.5 million social feeds. Newsdesk provides visualized analytics that help users understand overall brand sentiment in the media, favorable versus non-favorable coverage, and more, so you can easily and efficiently tell your brand’s story to the right audience.  

Learn more about the benefits of using Nexis Newsdesk and its offerings, and start a free trial today.