Public relations is a systematic research function that aims to design an effective campaign to solve an issue within mass communications. It is imperative that this research is reliable in order to understand the issue and suggest recommendations. Reliability can be defined as the ability of a method to measure the same results comparably over time. It is a measure that is stable, and consistent.
Public relations as a social science research aims to understand society and the various segments involved. Researching these segments or markets helps the practitioner anticipate attitudes and behaviors. Moreover, these preemptive measures anticipate future issues that may occur, and solutions to solve them.
Because public relations faces the challenge of validating the importance of this systematic approach to problem identifying and most importantly problem solving, it is imperative for practitioners to maintain their reputations with “Corporate America” and the media. Reliable research helps illustrate to the dominant coalition the necessity to understand an organization’s stakeholders. More and more, members of the dominant coalition are understanding the importance of their support for public relations. Effective public relations aids a company’s competitive advantage, therefore, aiding their bottom line.
Unfortunately, not all practitioners perform the necessary research needed to make reliable and valid recommendations. Research can be a very systematic and complicating aspect of public relations depending on the issue at hand. However, it is best to conduct the necessary research to gather data that is detrimental to a campaign. Even though subjectivity is used in public relations, the practitioner must examine the organization, its publics, and all other aspects that may affect its success in order to make an educated guess. Millions of dollars could be wasted on a campaign aimed at the wrong target audience and even worse, unavailable to the intended target audience.
Although public relations was not seen as a separate function in the past, it is becoming more common. In order for public relations to continue its effectiveness, there must be support for public relations within the organization as well as an appointed director of public relations to manage all functions. A separate budget should be allocated solely for public relations research. Although some company’s are reluctant to do this, they find that this research actually saves them money in the long run with crisis management and marketing campaigns.
Furthermore, future licensing would help ensure more credibility. It would also help eliminate the opportunity for non-systematic and under-qualified imposters to take advantage of individuals, organizations and the media. Systematic research facilitates reliability.