5 Tips to Create a Newsworthy Survey


Photo Credit: Daniel Kulinski via Compfight cc

By Katie Bouwkamp
The Hoffman Agency

Occasionally, there’s a powerful story to tell, but little to no “news” value to back it up. Surveys provide an excellent, and often underutilized, tool for creating compelling content and news when none exists.

Here are my five tips for creating stellar surveys that can support your PR and marketing efforts:

Start with Your Dream Headline.

Before you do anything, determine your ideal headline and story you want to tell. From there, you can move forward mapping out the type of data you anticipate needing as proof points.

Make Every Question Count.

When developing questions, phrase them in a way to yield interesting data, regardless of what the response is. Let me give you an example. Hoffman recently developed a survey on behalf of a mobile security company to illustrate the value employees place on personal data stored on their mobile device. Instead of simply asking survey respondents to rank the importance of data on their device, we phrased the question as follows: Would you rather lose your mobile device or your wallet? The resulting data point – “Nearly one third of Americans would rather lose their wallet than mobile device”— was what was picked up and reported on across major news outlets.

Make It Timely.

Is there a current or upcoming event that you can use as a tie-in for your survey to give it more legs? For instance, if your company produces mobile devices, you could tie in your survey with a major sports event, like the Super Bowl, to show how many people will be following the game on their phone or tablet. Or, if your company creates portable battery chargers, you could consider creating a survey around hurricane season and whether American citizens have the appropriate backups in place in the chance their power goes out. Get the idea?

Share a Story, Not Just Numbers.

After you get the survey responses back, analyze the data and pull out the most interesting stats that map back to your dream headline. Not all stats may be relevant to the story you’re trying to tell, so leave ’em out. Add in an element of storytelling, and provide additional context to explain the significance of the data. This doesn’t mean making it more complex. Most importantly, adjust the story to fit the audience you would like to reach.

Get Visual.

One of the many great things about surveys is that the data can be repurposed into infographics, which are easy to digest, are attention-grabbing and have a strong “sharability” factor. If you want to go a step beyond, you can create an SEO-optimized landing page to host the survey and accompanying visuals (such as an infographic). This could serve as an ongoing resource for potential customers and influencers seeking statistics and resources and can provide insights long after the initial survey results are released. It can also be excellent for lead generation!

You have nothing to lose – try it out for yourself!

My favorite survey tool to use is uSamp’s Instant.ly platform. It’s reasonably priced, and survey results come back almost immediately. This is especially helpful if you have a timely topic that you want to jump on.

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