Researchscape: How to Create a Survey Press Release That Gets Results

As part of our new webinar series, KG Connects, we recently
invited Jeffrey Henning and Tony Cheevers of Researchscape[1] to give attendees an
overview of the types of PR surveys and custom research they have
been working on during the COVID-19 crisis, as well as their best practices for
conducting newsworthy surveys.

As PR practitioners, we know that some of the best media coverage
is powered by data that can tell a unique story. In other words, it’s a PR
goldmine if you can find those one-of-a-kind nuggets of data that will generate
the publicity you are looking for.

According to the Researchscape team – and PR people all over
the world – stories that can place a company in the larger context of
sweeping changes, backed by recent data, will resonate best with journalists.

There is never a bad time to field a PR survey. In fact,
Researchscape has conducted 21,000 surveys since March 1. Three out of
four research surveys today have a COVID-19 angle.

But, how can you ensure that you are putting the right
information from a survey into your press release or proactive pitch? Better
yet, what are the best practices for setting up your survey for long-term

According to Researchscape, focusing on the following five
processes will set you on the right track:

Set Goals

As with any PR
and communications campaign, setting a goal focuses your efforts and saves time
and budget that might have gone to extraneous details.

Companies should
develop long term goals such as building brand awareness, generating leads or
developing content for a content marketing strategy. Executing a PR survey
should also have short term goals such as providing support for a product
launch or leveraging a holiday or trending story/event for coverage.

Remember this
critical first step or risk losing the overall vision of your campaign.

Design and Field the Survey

Now that you have
your goals set, the next step is to brainstorm possible headlines that you
would love to see – kind of an “in a perfect world” exercise with your team! Researchscape
suggests you “let your team’s imagination go wild, envisioning the results that
would best drive coverage.”

Once you come up
with your dream headlines, now is the time to come up with the questions. This
is where academic discipline and a little bit of art in surveys comes to play.  According to Researchscape, the main problems that
lead to inaccurate survey results and will reduce credibility with
reporters are asking leading questions or encouraging acquiescence bias.

A good rule of
thumb: a well-designed questionnaire can provide material for two or three news
releases. As outlined in a Researchscape whitepaper[2],
the average survey news release typically reports the findings from five
questions (not including demographic questions).

A 15- to
20-question survey can easily provide content for three or four news releases.

Develop Campaign

Most survey news
releases simply include a summary of key findings of the survey, without commentary
or context. But, with additional effort and detail, you can get far better

How to get survey
results covered by media:


  • Exhibits: These include high-quality charts and graphs that can be used by reporters. Don’t forget to put your company’s name in the graphic!
  • Topline Results: These should accompany the press release and include the full list of complete questions and the answers selected for each question. As one reporter says, “I want to see what the questions are and what order they are asked in.”
  • Methodology FAQ: Don’t push the methodology summary to the last paragraph of the release. Create a methodology document or section in the release that answers the questions that journalists are trained to look for in surveys.

Write the News

Once you develop campaign
assets, it’s time to write your killer press release(s) and make your push to
key media.

Rule of thumb: Journalists
prefer timely content. Announce your findings as soon as you can.

When writing your
survey press releases, pay attention to these common mistakes as reported by

  • Overgeneralizing
  • Being overly
  • Claiming a margin
    of sampling error
  • Reporting on
    questions with too few respondents
  • Failing to
    disclose the basics
  • Not linking to

Adapt and Re-Use

You’ve drafted a strong press release, pitched it to your key
media targets and have secured press all while building brand awareness and
generating leads – now what?

Do it all again next year, of course!

At Ketner Group, we have had clients conduct the same survey
for consecutive years with great success. It allows us to do year-over-year
comparisons so we can give reporters “trend reports” that provide more than
just a snapshot in time. This is one of the best ways to become a go-to expert
and thought leader on a given topic.

For more information about the process of creating newsworthy PR surveys, I encourage you to read the Best Practices for Newsmaker Surveys[3] whitepaper from Researchscape that analyzes more than 3,000 surveys done over seven years.

Your Ideas in Motion

If you need help designing or getting the most out of your
next PR survey project, connect with me at [email protected][4] to set up a free 30-minute consultation.


  1. ^ Researchscape (
  2. ^ whitepaper (
  3. ^ Best Practices for Newsmaker Surveys (
  4. ^ [email protected] (

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