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Investigation: Under the Magnifying Glass

Updated: Feb 24, 2019

I like big data and I cannot lie…or at least that’s what research professionals Dr. Bruce Berger and Dr. Kenon Brown had to say at The University of Alabama’s PRSSA Southeastern Regional Conference.

Dr. Berger and Dr. Brown used their session to interactively engage attendees to use their public relations knowledge and apply it to research tactics. After briefly going over different research methods, like applied research and strategic bottom-line research, the two research professionals used real-life examples to show how impactful research is in the public relations industry. The two professors called upon students to use their public relations knowledge to assess certain industry trends that need to be changed, like the small number of minority students and professionals in the public relations field.

Here are five main takeaways from Dr. Berger and Dr. Brown’s session:

  • Diverse research types and approaches are available. Choose wisely: Your choice determines the value of the results.

  • Research infuses professionals with power to influence, measure, communicate and drive success.

  • Though executives understand its importance, they don’t always support research in public relations. Advocate!

  • Understanding consumer wants, needs and interests by using research helps create an effective campaign that caters to your audience’s self-interests, rather than just “seeing what sticks.”

  • Don’t be afraid of learning how to conduct research. It doesn’t have to be complex, just effective.

Dr. Brown likes to describe himself as a “professional nerd” and genuinely enjoys finding the answers to questions that pique his curiosity. Dr. Berger also joins in that sentiment and shared that although research is necessary, it is a slow process with projects lasting anywhere from 15 months to years. Both researchers acknowledge that researching is not the career choice for all, but both are confident that every study done has results that are applicable and helpful to the public relations industry.

The communication strategies you will use in your public relations career have been researched to ensure success; do you know how to research for success?

-by Amanda Perrucci, PRSSA General Member

Dr. Bruce Berger is a professor emeritus of advertising and public relations in the College of Communication & Information Sciences at The University of Alabama. In addition to being the founding director of The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations, he currently serves as its research director.

Dr. Kenon Brown joined The University of Alabama’s A+PR faculty in August 2012 as an assistant professor of public relations after completing his Ph.D. at The University of Alabama. Dr. Brown has published articles in the Journal of Public Relations Research, Public Relations Review, Journal of Sports Media and the Journal of Business Communication.


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