Chapter 4: Public Relations Research

Learning Objectives

After reading this chapter, you will be able to:

  • Define the term ‘research’
  • Articulate the difference between formal and informal research
  • Distinguish between quantitative and qualitative research
  • Identify key research methods commonly used in PR research, such as surveys and focus groups
  • Understand the role of research in the field of public relations and articulate its importance
  • Demonstrate knowledge of social media research and the affects it can have on an organization
  • Learn how to find, evaluate and cite Information

Research is a critical part of public relations management. Public relations professionals have always relied on research to assess the success of campaigns and identify opportunities. Without research, it is impossible to demonstrate the effectiveness of any public relations activity.

“Research is the systematic gathering, analyzing, and evaluating of data. Data are observations of some sort – they may be as simple as the number of people attending the event or as complex as the perceptions of an organization’s reputation or credibility based on a measurement scheme” (Stacks, 2017, p.4).

In this chapter, you will learn what research is, the difference between formal and informal research, and what quantitative and qualitative research means.  You will learn about key research methods used in PR research, and you will learn what purpose research serves in public relations, and why it is so important.

Key Terms

Focus group
Formal Research
Informal Research
Qualitative Research
Quantitative Research
Social Media
Social Media Listening
Social Media Monitoring



Stacks, D. W. (2017). Primer of public relations research (3rd ed.). New York: Guilford.


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