Whilst 74% of men cannot operate the family washing machine, so says research carried out on behalf of a white goods manufacturer.
These two surveys are examples of similar ones that featured prominently in the news earlier this year – proving that surveys can be a great way of generating positive media coverage.
Few industries are immune from conducting surveys and maximising their public relations potential – from insurance companies to funeral directors, tourist attractions and sporting bodies.
Public relations experts realised long ago that these light-hearted snippets can help to generate positive column inches for their clients, particularly in the middle of August when Parliament remains in recess, the silly season is in full swing and journalists are scratching around for news stories.
Surveys may also be used by organisations keen to use the findings to lobby for changes in the law. They can also be a fun way to get across a serious point.
The family charity Family Lives (formerly Parentline Plus), surveyed parents of teenagers to develop a top ten list of popular ‘teen speak’ words and phrases. The aim was to raise awareness of its new website specifically aimed at parents of teens. The story achieved page leads in most national newspapers, as well as being discussed by star presenters on BBC Radio 2, 4 and 5. The website achieved 50,000 hits in one week!
However, any public relations professional worth their salt would urge caution when advising their clients about surveys as journalists will be suspicious of shoddily put together research that blatantly tries to get a free plug for a company.
Journalists will look at how many people were surveyed and if it was just 50 for example, they are likely to bin the story. In fact statisticians would argue that in a population of 60 million people, you need to survey at least 3,000 people to get a reasonably representative sample.
It is also worth considering whether you want to spend – a few hundred pounds or a few thousand and whether it is a ‘one off’ omnibus survey or a bespoke piece of research.
Various organisations are specialists in this field such as YouGov, Ipsos-Mori and Tick Box. You can check them out via the Market Research Society.
And if you are thinking of carrying out a survey, think of a ‘hook’ such as a special event that is coming up or link it to a special awareness day or week, for example, national apprenticeship week, or the launch of a new product or service.