A Final Reflection

My major is Advertising and Public Relations. My emphasis is Advertising. Until taking this class did I really think that the other side of my major mattered to me. But the two fields are grouped together for a reason, and that reason is how much they seem to share. Understanding one field is important to understanding certain aspects of the other, and there are skills I’ve learned (such as this blog writing, or learning how to write certain parts of the planbook) that I will take with me in the advertising jobs I’ll have in the future. 

In my first blog post, I talked about PR very vaguely. Obviously this is because I didn’t feel like I could discuss it because I didn’t really know anything about it, but it’s interesting to look back and see what I was saying before I had a chance to really embrace the material in the class. In my first definition of PR, I said this: “Public Relations is what it sounds like – relations to the public. It’s the field of making sure something is accessible and comprehensible to the public and the public eye.” It’s a pretty good definition, but it seems as if I didn’t want to say anything too off-kilter, so I stuck with a basic definition. Compared to now, I have learned many more concepts that give substance to this definition, such as how many different aspects there are to a PR job (research, planning, conflict management, etc) and what to look out for to make sure that what you’re putting out into the world is quality over quantity.

Research is a pillar of public relations, and at the end of this class I should now know its importance. The planbook, at the beginning of the semester seemed like a daunting and unfavorable task (and I’m not going to lie, not all of it was fun,) and doing TWO different types of research did not seem like something I was capable of doing. Even though I was able to break it down in the blog I wrote in the middle of September about research, I did that only based on the sources I read, not really from personal experience. I’ve done similar research throughout my academic career, but compiling two different types of research to gather information on ONE project is not something I’m familiar with. But after we broke it down over several weeks and I was given time to understand how it all works, the task did not seem so daunting anymore. 

Admittedly, this is one of the most difficult classes I’ve taken in my major, but I’m glad for it. I have a planbook to show in my portfolio, and I know, at least somewhat, how to properly conduct secondary and primary research and how to write it up. I know what blog writing entails, and I know that it’s important to check your sources. These things and so many others have culminated in a class that I will always be glad that I took, even though sometimes it was difficult. 

The Search for the Need of Research

Research is a pillar of public relations. There are others, but research is the first that should be learned by all PR professionals. It is the gears that help it begin turning. It is the key turn to start the ignition. It is opening your eyes to start your day. But enough metaphors. It is a vitally important thing to learn if one wishes to be successful in PR.

Along with being a “pillar” of PR as was previously mentioned, research has pillars of its own. A person, brand or company must ensure that the research they do is two things: reliable and valid. Doing so will prevent a slew of embarrassment for said person/brand/company when they are doing, say, a press release, for example. Making sure the sources gathered in the research for a press release are up-to-date, valid and reliable is arguably the most important thing a PR professional can do to prevent such embarrassment. The more one knows how to do so, the more one can prevent it from ever happening, so learning how to do research first before anything else is something a PR professional should prioritize when studying the field. 

Research is “the systematic gathering, analyzing, and evaluating of data.” There are different types of research, obviously, but one can dumb it down to gathering raw, unfiltered data, analyzing what it means, and evaluating it to make it something anyone would be able to read and understand. The ability to do quality research would put anyone ahead of anyone else not as skilled in the area for a public relations job, any day. “Without research, professionals are… reduced to taking, at best, educated guesses regarding the problem…”, meaning that the people meant to conduct research at PR firms wouldn’t have any information to give. There would be no sources backing up claims, and all these firms would be doing is grasping at straws. Solid, reliable information is needed to give to the public, as people base their lives around this information. Again, vitally important to learn for a public relations professional. 

There has never been a better time to learn such a trade than the era we are fortunate enough to live in now. With unlimited resources at one’s disposal, there is no longer an excuse not to do a thorough job of research, as well as do it in such a way that reflects quality for the person/brand/company you’re doing it for. It has never been easier to learn and then delve into the different aspects of a research project, such as the initial problem, the information needed to address the problem, how to state the results of your research on the problem, etc. To put it another way, “research is critical to establishing the goals and targets of a campaign and for measuring the outcome and whether the goals and targets have been met and how well.” 

There are many important facets to research that one must know should they want to be good at it. It must be reliable as well as valid, or be learned in way that conveys quality over anything else so it becomes a valuable skill for the person learning it. The fact that we have multitudinous resources at our fingertips nowadays is a fact that should be realized and respected, and then one wanting to learn research should take great advantage of that fact. As Arthur Robinson from Varascope.com puts it, “Research is getting more evolved and sophisticated day by day and will be able to offer reliable solutions to PR problems.” It is more than a pillar of public relations; it is part of the foundation.