Turning Survey Data into Media Coverage

Magnifying glass on charts graphs spreadsheet paper.

Transforming survey data into media coverage requires a well-structured approach. By setting goals, designing and fielding the survey, developing campaign assets, writing the news release and adapting and re-using content, survey data can be leveraged to generate meaningful media attention.

Set Goals

Before embarking on a survey, define clear goals and objectives. Common goals include demonstrating thought leadership, developing content for a content marketing strategy, creating gated content for lead generation, and supporting a product launch.

Brainstorm the headlines that you’d love to see come out of the research. At this point, don’t worry whether the findings will support these headlines; just brainstorm what would have the most impact. For instance, if the goal is to support a product launch by highlighting an unmet need, come up with a headline such as “90% of customers complain that customer service chatbots don’t answer their actual questions.”

Design and Field the Survey

Brainstorming done, your goal is now to figure out how to get journalists to write about the results. Design survey questions that stand up to journalistic scrutiny: such questions are concise, unbiased, and relevant to the goals. For key headlines, ask a few related questions, to improve the odds of finding a result you will want to highlight.

For instance, a headline might be “80% of Europeans are more concerned about inflation.” A question to support that would be: “Are your concerns about inflation increasing? Yes/No.” More neutral wording would be: “How have your concerns about inflation changed in the past six months, if at all? Stayed the same, Decreased, Increased.” A follow-up question could measure, for those for whom it has changed, the extent of that change.

Almost all surveys today are conducted online, but if you need coverage in a tier-one newspaper, they typically only write about probability samples built from mail and telephone research.

Develop Campaign Assets

To support media coverage, develop compelling campaign assets that visually represent the survey findings. Create eye-catching charts, graphs and infographics that effectively communicate key data points. Such visual assets are essential for capturing the attention of journalists and helping them quickly understand the survey's highlights.

If a question is inconclusive, confusing, or detracts from the story that is being told, you can omit that question and its findings.

Additionally, create a topline report that provides an overview of the survey, including wording for included questions, demographic or B2B breakouts, and significant findings. Develop a methodology FAQ that addresses common questions regarding the survey's design, sample size and sampling methods. These assets will provide journalists with comprehensive information and enhance the chances of media coverage.

Write the News Release

Crafting a compelling news release is crucial to garnering media attention for survey data. Start with a strong headline that encapsulates the key findings. Provide a concise summary of the survey's objectives, methodology and the most impactful insights. Include quotes from experts or key stakeholders and to add credibility and a human element to the story.

Journalists are trained to ask certain standard questions about surveys before writing about them. Answer as many of these questions as possible in the news release and supporting materials.

Adapt and Re-Use

Once the initial media coverage is secured, adapt and re-use the survey data to maximize its impact. Repurpose the survey findings into blog posts, guest articles or social media content. Create videos or webinars to engage a broader audience and maintain momentum.

Repeat the research in a year so that you can highlight key trends and key changes. By continuously adapting and re-using the survey data, you can extend its reach and impact.

Turning survey data into media coverage requires a systematic approach. By following the five steps outlined here, you can transform survey data into impactful media coverage.

Jeffrey Henning is chief research officer at Researchscape International.