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4.1 READ THE ARTICLE

Surveys

As covered earlier in this course, it is important to know and use the reality level of the public you are communicating to.

Doing surveys helps you succeed in doing this.

In public relations the word survey means to carefully examine public opinion regarding an idea, a product, some part of life or any other subject.

By surveying a group, person by person, you can get an idea of public opinion on a subject by putting the answers into similar categories (similar groups) and seeing what the highest percentage is of the popular responses.

But what does this mean to you on your own? Most likely you cannot rush out and hire a survey expert or research company to collect opinions on a subject about the neighbors in the neighborhood you just moved into or what students think in class or what staff at work may think about your project.

The fact is, you can do your own surveys very easily.

A survey is done in order to find what buttons a group has. In surveying, the word button means the subject or phrase or idea that communicates the reality of a specific public. It is something that is real to most people in that group and which can be used to get a response and to get agreement. And in public relations what you want is the agreement and cooperation with your actions from the people within a group.

In a survey, you question people to get their opinion on something. A button is the most important piece of information you get from this action. It is the answer given the most number of times to your survey question. And by using that button, you will get agreement from people and you will get a response.

Surveys can also be written to tell you what people really dislike or hate.

With knowledge of a public’s reality that you get from surveys, it is possible to inform them of the ideas you want them to accept—in other words, you can get your message across because you can say it in a way that people are willing to receive.

To sum this up, these are the key points you need to understand:

The message is the communication, the thought, the idea you want to get across to an audience or public.

A button is used to get the public’s agreement to hear the message.

A message and a button are not the same thing.

By doing a survey and finding the right button, you can then use that button to get agreement and as a result, get a response.

In order to do a proper survey and use the information in a way to produce the results you want, you need to understand the purpose of surveys, as well as ARC and the ARC Triangle. It requires an understanding of what reality is.

When you do a survey, you use the ARC Triangle. And then, you again apply the ARC Triangle in putting the survey results to use.

It goes like this: You communicate to an audience or public through a survey with affinity to find out what the reality of that audience is. Reality is agreement as to what is. So the reason you do a survey is to find out what that audience or public will agree with.

You use that reality in a promotional piece or some other communication to get their agreement to hear the message. As a result, you will raise the public’s affinity for the item, idea or a project you are promoting.

That is the simplicity of it. But it will only be simple to you, if you understand the ARC Triangle. Without reality or some agreement, communication will not reach your public and there will be no affinity.

Surveys are done to get agreement. Surveys are not done for any other purpose. They’re done to establish agreement with an audience.

For example, you ask ten or ten hundred people what they would most want from an automobile tire and they tell you that a tire should be “long-lasting.” That’s the button. That’s the reality, the point of agreement on automobile tires among that public. So you use that button with that public and they will then listen to what you have to say about automobile tires.

Buttons have their use but we are more interested in the message. The message is the most important thing of any promotional piece or PR communication. Buttons are just the grease (something that allows things to happen smoothly and easily) to use to get your message out.

How to Do a Survey

The actions involved in doing a survey are simple. The first thing is to work out the questions you are going to ask the public to find out what is wanted and needed, popular or unpopular or whatever you want to find out.

After the questions are worked out, they are written or typed on a piece of paper for the surveyor to use. If you are doing a survey in a city where large numbers of people will be interviewed, it may be useful to print a number of survey forms. However, all that is needed for most surveys is a clipboard with plenty of plain paper and several pens (so you don’t run out of ink in the middle of the survey).

The survey question page is then placed on top of the paper and turned back while taking notes of the answers.

To begin a survey, you simply walk up to a person and in a friendly manner, introduce yourself and ask if you can survey them.

If the person asks for more information about the survey or why it is being done, his questions are answered and the survey is begun.

Ask the person the first question, flip back the question page and take down the answer. Be sure to number the answers so they match the number of the question you are asking.

You don’t need to write down every word as the person speaks to you, but get the most important points. You will find, with some practice in surveying, you can write down almost everything.

After the person has answered the first question, thank him or her and go to the next question.

At the end of the survey, thank the person. The person will most likely be thanking you at this point because people love to be asked their opinion of things. And having another person really listen is an uncommon and valuable experience to many people.

Then go to the next person and repeat the same procedure. This is all there is to the steps of surveying people.

Survey Results

Once a survey is done, the responses have to be tabulated in order to be usable. Tabulate means to arrange information in an orderly way.

In tabulating survey responses, you are arranging the information in an orderly way so that you can carefully look over the survey results. You want to examine the answers so that you can work out what the reality is for the people you surveyed.

How to Tabulate

1. Count all the surveys received.

2. Work out the various categories (groups) of answers for each question by listing answers briefly as you go through the surveys.

3. When categories have been worked out, you will be able to simply mark a slant next to the proper category, meaning there is one more answer of a similar nature.

4. Once all the responses have been tabulated, count up the number of responses in each category for each question.

5. Work out the percentage for each category under each question. This is done by dividing the number of answers in that category by the total number of surveys and multiplying by 100.

For example, let’s say you have 1,500 answers that were similar to one question and your total number of surveys is 2,500.

1,500 divided by 2,500 = 0.6 x 100 = 60%

This means 60 percent gave that similar type of answer.

6. The only mistake you can make is not to realize when some of the answers are similar to each other. If you make this mistake, you have a lot of different categories that are not necessary.

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