You don’t need to empty your pockets to conduct valuable research projects in communications. Small, low-investment projects can reveal valuable findings that inform a highly strategic communications program.

The value of communications research is huge. It can help you create an effective communications program that sees results! For example, research into your audience can tell you about your community’s behavior, feelings and habits. Knowing this can help you shape your key messages, so that they resonate and motivate your audiences to action.

A little communications research can also help you identify promising opportunities to reach and motivate those audience members, such as weekly Twitter chats that convene audience members around a specific topic, or in-person conferences that may introduce opportunities to connect with your audience face-to-face.

The Prichard team knows how to pack a punch with low-investment, big-impact research projects. Here are just a few types of research projects we’ve executed that yield valuable findings that can inform your communications program—all while being mindful of resources.

Social Media Listening Research

More likely than not, your audiences are talking on social media. Listening to these conversations can yield enormously valuable findings about what they care about and how they’re talking about these issues.

For example, we found that practitioners working in early childhood are active on Twitter, engaging in conversations about access and equity in early childhood. Additionally, a network of more than 34,000 early learning practitioners and parents convene discussions on LinkedIn, advancing ideas around childhood health, family engagement and child care quality.

We dedicated two months to monitoring these conversations. This short communications research project for a client delivered valuable findings about leaders in the field, top themes discussed by audience, and conversation tone. All of this information can be used to inform a communications strategy to reach and engage this audience; for example, these findings can inform new messages that implement top keywords used by this audience to communicate about this client’s priority issues.

Creating Audience Personas

Audience member personas are sketches of your audience segments. These are valuable because they offer a “picture” of this audience segment, and can help you create and deliver content that will resonate with them.

Prichard’s audience persona is “Trish,” and we’ve helped clients define theirs, too. It doesn’t take a decade’s worth of marketing budget to research and create audience personas, but the payoff can be huge. Audience personas not only inform useful and relevant content for your blog, social media posts and website; they are also an easy way to train other staff members on the needs and values of your audiences.

Online Scan for Opportunities

Being a flexible communicator means that you’re always on the lookout for opportunities to promote the latest news, campaigns or initiatives for your organization. We also know that a little research and planning can help you get in front of those opportunities and make the most of them.

We recently underwent a short research project to identify the most promising and relevant online conversations for a client. We dove deep into ongoing Twitter Chats, webinars, and Google Hangouts that posed opportunities for this organization to engage with audience segments and amplify its message. Further, we proactively identified national occasions that spur online conversation—occasions like Back to School, National School Breakfast Week or National Minority Health Month.

The result of this short research process is a complete editorial calendar that can help you plan ahead and identify opportunities for engagement.

Interested in a research project like one listed above? Drop us a line to learn more!