What are we trying to find when we embark on research? The obvious response is, of course, the answer. But the answer to what? The most important part of the research process is in the defining of the questions that we want to ask. The right question can unlock a problem, help focus a brief and give strategic direction. In short, there is little point in finding the answers to the wrong questions.
At Tyto, defining the right research questions and then using them to mine for insights is at the heart of our approach for developing effective programmes for our existing clients and in our new business process. When we receive a brief, we think about what questions will help us understand the business challenge or need that the PR programme is trying to solve. Why is PR now the solution a company is looking for?
This process can often mean refining a proposal or developing a programme that looks different to the one asked for in the brief. While this is a risky strategy in some ways, if we cannot see that the solution asked for will deliver longevity of results, and genuinely respond to the company’s business challenge or need, then we develop a solution that we think will. Rather than always giving companies what they think they want, we offer them what they need.
In our research process, we put a company into the centre of a picture and then begin to build a landscape around them. We ask a series of questions to find out what matters in that universe and how it relates to the company. We consider the competitors in the field, the trends that are flowing through the sector, or broader societal trends and issues that affect that company, the media environment, the existing brand assets, content and the context in which it has been generated. We look at engagement amongst different audiences, we analyse conversations, and we pick up the phone to journalists, customers, and others, to sense check if what we are finding resonates.
Once we have this initial picture we cast our net again to find out what possibilities and opportunities exist for the brand, we look for ‘white space’ in a discussion that they can own. Or space which they can develop and grow. Conversely, when the debate is crowded and/or too noisy to make a meaningful in-road, we look at where we can make a difference and ways to elevate them above the noise.
In the dramatic arts, therapy, and other fields there is a saying of ‘trust the process’. In research it is the same – a method to unlock creativity may not sound creative, yet it always yields results. By building a universe around our clients, we can test out what works best for them and are also able to evaluate and measure the impact made.
At Tyto, we encourage space to play, research, test, ideate, to talk, learn and grow. This is not solely the preserve of the research and insights team but for us all. Critical thinking is, well, critical. To do the best work possible, we all need to continually push the envelope and create creative, dynamic, impactful, and most importantly, successful campaigns.