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If every client engagement is a “journey,” then research is the GPS unit that determines the best path forward. Research makes our objectives clear, establishes intent for our creative execution, and ensures that our decisions are informed by real-world data and timely market opportunities. 

That’s why everything we do at Airfoil begins with research: It helps us define success for each of our clients, and it provides our cross-functional teams with a roadmap that shows us how to get there. 

At the outset of every client engagement, we develop strategies grounded in intelligence and analytics that provide measurable goals to work toward. Here are six ways that our media relations professionals, content creators, social media teams, and brand strategists use different forms of research to help our clients achieve growth. 

Persona development: User personas and buyer personas are essential for much of the work we do, helping us identify the right publications to target, the right social channels to prioritize, and the right tone and topic areas for our content development. We use our own research and third-party research to develop these personas, which ensure that every piece of content we create and every form of media we use is optimized for the ideal demographics and customers. Our in-house research involves interviewing subject matter experts and customers interested in relevant products or services. Understanding the needs, character traits, and preferences of target audiences allows us to develop the ideal go-to-market strategies, materials, and media plans for our clients. 

Competitive analysis: Understanding the competition is just as important as understanding your customers. That’s why we analyze the key messaging, media coverage, social media channels, and websites of the top competitors in the market before we put together an integrated marketing strategy. Competitive analysis helps us identify unique positioning opportunities, messaging themes, media storylines, and other points of distinction that help our clients stand out in a competitive field. Ultimately, competitive analysis helps us discover new opportunities to gain traction in the market, highlight unique product features, and reach demographics that may be in a competitor’s “blind spot.” 

Media analytics: Analyzing media coverage is critical at the outset of any client engagement, but it’s also an “always on” form of research that helps us refine and optimize our media strategies. Share of voice (SOV), which measures a brand’s media coverage versus coverage of competitors, is a valuable metric for gauging the efficacy of media relations efforts over time. In order to increase a client’s SOV and gain media momentum, we use more qualitative forms of research: We track the coverage angles, product features, and messaging themes that resonate best with reporters and reviewers. We also conduct sentiment analysis of published articles and research individual reporters to find the best possible fits for every client’s media coverage. 

Social media auditing: In recent years, social media has evolved into the most important connection point between a brand and its audiences. We help our clients optimize and continually refine their strategies across social channels by analyzing the types of content that perform well in terms of likes, comments, reposts, clicks to their website, and gaining new followers. Assessing past success is just one piece of the puzzle: We also examine social posts that haven’t been as successful, and we seek out opportunities to make that content more engaging in the future. Over time, our research helps us increase social engagement by identifying the content that works best and leaning into strategies that improve the performance of every post.  

News and trends research: Media analytics help us create a proactive media strategy and key storylines, but tracking trending topics and news stories in real-time helps us land stories in a timely way. Whenever a relevant news story or trending topic hits news outlets or social media, this type of research helps our team respond rapidly to reporters to offer interview opportunities, insightful proprietary data, and unique solutions or viewpoints that our client can provide. This type of research is particularly valuable during major industry events such as CES: We can see what’s attracting attention at the show and which reporters are on-site, enabling timely outreach to reporters covering related topics or competitors.  

Thought-leadership analysis: Most of the research we’ve discussed thus far informs earned and shared media campaigns, but owned and paid media campaigns also require a lot of data-driven groundwork. Many of our clients are interested in pursuing contributed byline opportunities in national or trade media, as well as speaking engagements at major industry events. We use a combination of event research, content auditing on LinkedIn, competitive analysis, and media analytics to help our clients develop compelling narratives, storylines, and speaking topics that will attract the right kind of attention from reporters, industry leaders, potential partners, and current and future employees. 

If your business decisions aren’t data-driven, then they probably aren’t the best decisions. So, are you ready to explore how research can put your company on the path to long-term success? Connect with us today, and let’s start turning data into creative growth opportunities for your business. 

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