Looking back now on Dr. Kirk's Research class for my Communication Studies major, it's somewhat comical to me how completely and entirely freaked out I was to do "research" in the way that Dr. Kirk was instructing us to do. I had never in my life had to create such an extensive reference list, and to be honest, I had barely even used EBSO or any other library search engine, for that matter. I remember thinking: "When am I EVER going to use this in real life. What's the point? This is wasting precious hours of my life that I could be using to actually create my own work." ... Little did I know, I would soon come to realize research was the most important step in any type of communication. You have to do your research before you can even begin to express your opinion and convey a message to your audience.
This week, Mr. Mike Lake, Chair, U.S. Public Affairs Practice and Southwest Region for Burson-Marsteller, came and talked to us about the importance of research in a campaign and the method B-M sells to it's clients called the "evidence-based approach." B-M is a huge believer in quantitative research and prides itself in being able to provide extensive research to their clients with facts and numbers, not just focus groups and opinions. Mr. Lake told us, "If you want to go out and bill a client, you've got to back it up with data and research." In Dr. Kirk's class, our entire semester was about doing research in order to present a campaign idea to our client. A lot of times what firms do is they research and present what the client already knows about themselves. B-M takes this a step further in that they offer something to the clients that they don't already know.
Mr. Lake talked about a recent campaign B-M is working on in the online gaming industry. In order to best serve their client, they knew they were going to have to do extensive research. They were strategic, however, in how they chose their targets for the research. By choosing the correct targets, B-M was able to provide the very best research results for their client.
In a world where it is increasingly becoming more about the "I want it now" and "high-tech, high-speed outcomes," it's refreshing to hear that good old fashioned research is still one of, if not, the most important step in producing results that work for a client. It's also a relief to know that my countless hours spent sifting through research article after research article will pay off one day when I will hopefully get a client of my own that wants to try an evidence-based approach to communication.