By Jeff Ballif, Intern (@jeffballif)
If public relations is a machine, then research is the fuel that runs it. No public relations campaign can get anywhere without a team of researchers behind it. From client pitches to day-to-day execution of plans to crisis management, research is elemental.
When I started my internship, one of the skills I wanted to improve on most was research, and working here I’ve had plenty of opportunities to do so. Working at a firm as opposed to a corporate public affairs office provides a wide variety of research experience rather than focusing on one area. In one day, I go from financial institutions to 3D cinematography to global outsourcing companies to touch-screen computers. And that’s just before lunch!
Last week I had to research the Fortune 100 companies for an initiative that we’re working on for a client. I started browsing the top 100 of America’s Fortune 500 companies, and then I turned to top 100 of the Global Fortune 500. As I perused the lists, I noticed a trend amongst the world’s largest companies, seven of the top ten biggest companies in the world are oil companies. Think of all the data and conclusions that can be drawn from that trend!
The ability to analyze and effectively use researched data is an important component to your arsenal of research skills. After all, the most advanced tools in the world can’t help someone who doesn’t know how to use them. The ability to know how to dissect information and apply it to a client’s benefit is paramount in public relations research.