Digital Hearts and Minds: Online Focus Groups Gain Momentum

While live focus groups have been around since the 1940s and really came of age with marketers in the 1950s, they are a lively subject for debate among PR executives. To some they are like a crapshoot—either a way to look inside the hearts and minds of stakeholders, or a group of people ready to implode into chaos, wasting precious time and money. But there’s another focus group tactic that bears scrutiny: the online focus group. Instead of rooms with one-way mirrors, online platforms allow observers to interact in real time with small or large groups, ask closed or open-ended questions, engage subjects in discussions and test just about any kind of message media. It’s a technique—and a technology—that should be used more in PR, says Jennifer Scott, managing director of insights and research at Ogilvy PR.

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