At Sapio, we are content marketing research boffins, but rarely get involved in implementing the campaigns our research is part of. This is why it's really interesting to hear the benefits of research from a PR perspective. We asked Rob Skinner - Managing Director at Skout PR, to give us his view on what research can do for your content marketing campaigns. 

Flick through the pages of any magazine or newspaper and chances are there will be a headline or two based on research. It could be a statistic claiming that eight out of ten of us aren’t getting enough exercise, or that 90% of business owners are worried about the impact of Brexit - whatever the topic, no matter whether it’s a business or consumer story, statistics are a great way to generate media coverage.

Research is a tried and tested tactic used by many B2B PR agencies to raise awareness of a certain business topic or a specific industry issue. However before you invest in research, it’s important to consider how to maximise best value from it and make sure the results of your investment work really hard for you. It can actually contribute so much more to your marketing objectives than an attention grabbing headline.

In fact, the results of a piece of research can be used at the core of an integrated PR and marketing campaign, to not only generate media attention, but to also create some compelling content that can help drive brand visibility and demand generation. Research can actually to be used to shape the core premise and theme of the campaign, especially in ‘top of funnel’ awareness and trust building scenarios. Also, if your business is going through a fallow news period, a programme based on your market research has the potential to fuel your content pipeline for months, to help your SEO and generate a host of other assets to support your marketing and PR objectives.

Behind any piece of hard working research is a great idea – a hot topic or pertinent issue that will resonate with your target audience. It sounds obvious doesn’t it, but there’s little point paying for a survey to be carried out if the subject matter doesn’t really interest your target audience

Once you’ve decided on your topic, your next important task is to think about the themes, news headlines and types of content you’d like to achieve from the market research. From here, you can then carefully craft your questions (with the help of your market research house) to ensure the survey generates the results you need to create the types of content you want to support your campaign.

It’s also important that you take full advantage of all the questions available to you. Think about how many topics are related to the issue that the survey questions could cover off. Putting all the questions to good use to reveal a range of angles on your chosen topic opens the door to a host of potential content to fuel your pipeline.

Once you have your survey results, and have investigated your different story angles, there’s a wealth of potential content assets you can create using the data to support an integrated PR and marketing campaign:

A report or guide - Consider distilling the survey findings into a full report or guide. It can then be used as a marketing collateral, downloadable and gated on your website so that site visitors’ data can be collected.

An infographic – Display your survey data in the form of an infographic. Our appetite for taking in data in the form of an infographic remains strong and adds a visual element to your campaign.

Blogs – Use the survey findings to develop blog content. Focusing on each survey angle allows you to go into more depth, explaining why the survey conclusions have been reached and how your organisation can help with the issue.

Thought leadership – The survey results offer the perfect opportunity for a business to take ownership of an issue, offering new and fresh insight into topics your target audience are interested in.

Events – The research findings could be used to shape or secure an industry event speaking opportunity for your CEO, or as the basis for your own customer event or webinar.

Debate – How about using the research outcomes to trigger a debate? You could create a whole second set of content by bringing industry experts together to discuss what the findings mean.

Video – Another way to share your survey data - consider producing an animated story to set the scene and use the survey results to support it. Here’s an example of a video we helped one of clients create to showcase the results of their survey.

Media relations – Journalists love a good statistic and no matter which sector you’re in, there’s always the opportunity to pitch your survey findings to your target media.

There is an array of content options for making your survey results work hard for you and the above list of assets can be used to support your content marketing, SEO and PR objectives. And the survey results don’t stop giving there – consider how your sales team could use the data. Do the survey results reveal something that might be of interest to your existing or potential customers? Could they be used to show insight into a business trend and be included as part of a sales presentation?

Read here to find out more about how Skout PR maximised the value of one of its client’s research projects.