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Research as a PR vehicle

Research as a PR vehicle

As well as being a valuable tool for informing business strategy, research is a great way to generate PR, as can be seen by this study into event evaluation undertaken amongst PAs and executive assistants by WWMC client KDM.

The media love to quote reliable statistics on trends and behaviours.  And when findings from a piece of research provide insights that will interest your business’s target audience, you’re definitely on to a winner from a PR perspective.  This was proved effectively by event organiser KDM working in tandem with WWMC.

Proving theories

As a company passionately interested in creating events that achieve their business goals, KDM started out with a suspicion that many people at the sharp end of organising corporate events had only a general idea of why their event had been conceived in the first place. And, at a time when business leaders were looking for evidence to justify the money they were spending on their conferences, teambuilding activities and other motivational events, many organisers could offer no reliable means of measuring the level of their events’ success.

To explore this apparent disconnect, KDM conducted some research amongst its database of in-house event organisers, asking them to state the kind of outcomes that they hoped to achieve from their events.  The responses they received fell into two categories –  those that related to the practical, logistical elements: making sure the schedule ran to time, getting people in the right place etc. – and those that related to the original strategic goals for the event.

Many organisers had no reliable means of measuring the level of their events’ success.

The research revealed that a lot of organisers were either unclear about the business objectives for their event or had forgotten the overriding goals in all the urgency of venue-finding, speaker sourcing and planning the show production elements. Putting together an event that had no glitches and generated no delegate complaints often became the organisers’ primary concern. KDM’s research findings gave the distinct impression that the focus on wider business goals was considered outside the remit of many PAs and executive assistants whose job it was to organise their company’s events.

They also established that few of the people planning corporate events were aware that delegate feedback questionnaires could be used as a measurement tool – to discover how behaviours changed following attendance at a conference or motivational event.  This was because very few organisers had put in place methods of measuring delegate attitudes and behaviours before the event took place.  This was a missed opportunity because pre-event questionnaires could have provided a baseline figure.  Although 88% of KDM’s respondents said they undertook post-event surveys, fewer than a quarter said they surveyed delegates before their events as well.  Without such comparative metrics, post-conference analysis would be, at best, a vague indicator.

Editorial appeal

WWMC applied PR to publicise these findings, writing news items about the research and editorial features that urged organisers to say: “OK, why are we holding this conference? What kind of outcomes are we hoping for?  And how can we effectively measure subsequent performance changes to prove the success of our event?”

In a year when magazines were reporting that business leaders were seeking ways of measuring and evaluating their events, KDM’s research proved to be of interest to editors, and, of course their readers.  A clutch of articles on this theme appeared in several key publications.  KDM and WWMC then put together a pitch to present a seminar at the annual Office show, entitled ‘How to prove the Success of Your Business Events’.

Our pitch was accepted and, after working together to create the content, WWMC’s Sarah Webster presented the seminar at the show.

Spin-off opportunities

The ability to provide empirical evidence on industry trends, market fluctuations, or consumer behaviours lends the source authority and credibility. In addition to articles and news stories it often creates spin-off opportunities for participation on advisory panels, working groups and committees.  So, if you have an interest in discovering the drivers or thought-processes of your customer base, we’d be delighted to help construct a research study, and – of course – publicise its findings.