Brief Guide to Communications Research and Measurement

English Communications provides many communications research and measurement services. Here is a rundown for understanding the various types of research services available.

Secondary research is often a useful and cost-effective starting point. It involves finding and evaluating existing research (both internal to your organization and externally) that is relevant to your needs.

Qualitative research is used to develop a rich, in-depth understanding of how stakeholders think or feel about a subject. Two popular qualitative research methods are focus groups and in-depth interviews. Focus groups are moderated discussions involving six to 12 participants, and reveal a range of opinion that exists surrounding a particular subject. In-depth interviews are open-ended interviews, conducted one-on-one. Together, these methods provide a better understanding of the range of ideas and feelings that exist among stakeholders. They also help communicators uncover factors that influence opinions, behaviors or motivations among stakeholders. Findings from focus groups and in-depth interviews can be used to develop questions for surveys and other quantitative research.

Quantitative research allows researchers to draw statistical inferences about a population. One common quantitative research method is the survey. Surveys can be conducted face to face, by telephone, by mail, and via the Internet or intranet. Not all surveys qualify as quantitative research, however. A quantitative survey must be carefully constructed and administered. Attention must be paid to selecting a true random sample of the population under study, sample size, and response rates. Content analysis is a means to measure qualitative data quantitatively. It can be used to analyze media stories (including Internet stories and blogs), as well as documents, speeches, interviews, and other sources of communication. Possible measurements for content analysis include number of clips, total circulation of the publications, number of inches or minutes, positive/negative/neutrality of stories, audience type (key audience or general audience), product mentions, whether key messages appear, key media or general media, quality of the publication or program, and prominence of the company in the story.

English Communications uses these research and measurement tools to help communications departments identify and understand key publics, frame important issues, develop communications strategies, and measure results.

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