Ten top tips for creating a thought-leadership survey that generates media coverage
March 20th, 2023, Andrew Farmer

Ten top tips for creating a thought-leadership survey that generates media coverage

Research findings can be a great way to generate media coverage, establish your brand as a leader in thought leadership content creation, and ultimately drive business growth. It’s one of the reasons why YouGov is the most-quoted research agency in the world and why PR agencies come to us for their thought leadership surveys. But the reality is, not all research studies are created equal.

Done well, research can position your company as an authoritative voice in your industry, resulting in positive media coverage and attracting new customers. On the flip side, poorly executed research can harm your brand health and be a waste of time and money.

How do you create effective thought leadership content?

Creating impactful thought leadership content requires a strategic approach, especially when conducting thought leadership surveys. To maximize the reach and impact of your research study, it's crucial to design it with both the media and your target audience in mind.

In this article we explore ten essential tips for creating thought-leadership surveys that generate media coverage. From choosing timely and relevant topics to executing the research in a way that ensures maximum impact and targets the right survey respondents, these tips will help you get the most out of your research investment, ensuring your survey data analysis will gets the attention you want.

How to approach thought leadership survey research:

1. Be timely

If you want to capture the attention of the media and excel in thought leadership content creation, you need to be timely. This means responding to events quickly and choosing a topic that is relevant to current news and trends. By doing so, you increase your chances of being quoted in the media and of your research being shared widely.

PR agency Smitten Communications gained valuable exposure for tech client JustAnswer through a YouGov poll focused on tensions at annual family gatherings in the lead up to the holiday season; 70% of Millennials would “uninvite” a family member if they could!

With YouGov surveys running daily, it’s possible to ideate with our researchers on a thought leadership survey one day and get press-ready results back the next.

2. Be insightful

To make sure your thought leadership survey research speaks to your audience, it needs to be insightful. You need to provide new and relevant information that adds value to the conversation in your industry. Ensure that whatever your research covers, it speaks to the knowledge of the people in your sector as if it falls short you will get noticed for all the wrong reasons.

A YouGov survey from earlier this year looking at the rebound in the global travel industry post-COVID, for example, featured in-depth thought leadership research data not available from other sources, and resulted in extensive media coverage across the US, UK, India, France, Germany and Australia.

3. Give it a long life

Justify your research investment by ensuring your data remains relevant long after the fieldwork is completed. Craft questions that stand the test of time, allowing your survey data analysis to be repurposed across various content formats, thus establishing you as one of the survey research leaders in your field.

4. Use a trusted vendor

There are a lot of outfits offering research – however, it is important that your research stands up to scrutiny. So, make sure you work with someone who is credible, like YouGov, who has a track record of conducting high-quality research studies and online panel surveys. By doing so, you ensure that your research is rigorous and reliable, both key factors for many media outlets covering findings. Partnering with a reputable vendor also reinforces your position in thought leadership survey research, enhancing the credibility of your thought leadership content.

5. Make it engaging

To make sure your research is successful in genertating media coverage, it helps to attach it to the most important trends in your industry. If you design your research to be interesting and engaging, it increases the chances of getting coverage and being shared widely among your target audience.

YouGov recently commissioned a survey that explored views on airplane etiquette – including opinions on the age-old question of whether it’s acceptable to fully recline your seat. This generated top-tier media coverage and an excited social media debate as people weighed in with their own views and experiences. The topic, relevant and timely, exemplifies how thought headlines can drive engagement and discussion.

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How to execute survey research for media coverage:

6. Only ask one question at a time

When designing your thought leadership survey, ensure that you only ask one question at a time. Attempting to cover multiple things in a single question can lead to to confusion and lower-quality data. To avoid the need for survey extensions, maintain clarity in your questions.

This approach is crucial in thought leadership content creation as it helps in generating precise and valuable insights for the reader.

7. Make sure the questions you draft aren’t biased

If you ask a leading question, you will get a leading answer. However, using biased data can undercut your thought leadership and diminish returns. So, when designing your survey, ensure that your questions are unbiased and designed to provide an accurate representation of the public’s views – a key aspect in maintaining the integrity of thought leadership survey research.

For serviced surveys and custom research projects, YouGov’s team of expert researchers help to design the research to ensure objectivity and methodological rigor.

Their expertise in in-depth thought leadership research ensures that the surveys align with the best practices of survey research leaders, producing data that is not only reliable but also impactful in generating media coverage.

8. Make sure you have a large enough sample size

Some media organizations will only accept research that has a large enough sample of survey respondents. What that sample size is depends on a few factors. The first is the media organization itself. The second is the market – as requirements tend to differ by country norms. The third is the type of research. Nationally representative samples are different for those of a more niche sample – such as business owners or people who work in a specific type of profession.

While there is no magic number for sample size, it's important to work with a research agency that understands the unique requirements of your study and can help you determine the appropriate sample size for your research goals. YouGov offers a number of omnibus survey options that allow you to reach specific audiences cost-effectively.

9. Target the right groups for your research

Which group you need to put your questions in front of depends on what you are looking to find out. In a lot of cases, you will want to speak to the general public (in research terms this is known as “nationally representative” or Nat Rep or “General Population” or Gen Pop). These are standard demographic surveys with responses broken down by age, gender and region.

If you want to find out people’s view on political matters, you will need a special type of Nat Rep sample that is “politically representative”.

Sometimes you will want to ask questions of a specific type of audience – such as business decision-makers or teachers. In these cases, you need to target your research at niche groups of survey respondents.

10. Use data visualization

Some people struggle to interpret numbers in writing and instead “read” data visually. Having a clear graphic is a great way of making sure you help people understand what your data says and can help journalists and the public engage with your story.

At YouGov, we try and ensure that our charts should be clear and concise, making the information as easy to digest as possible. There are a number of easy-to-use data visualization tools available to help you achieve this. We also try and give it a clear header to help guide people through what they are looking at.

Interactive charts, like the one below, help readers focus in on the trend data demonstrating the effectiveness of thought leadership survey data in a visually engaging format.

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Creating thought-leadership surveys that generate media coverage is not an easy task, but it is worth the effort. By following the ten tips we've outlined, you can increase your chances of getting the media attention you want, while also positioning your brand as a thought leader and delivering value to your audience through insightful survey data analysis.

But it's important to remember that media coverage is just one way to leverage research for business growth. Research surveys can also be used for content marketing, thought leadership campaigns, and customer insights. So, take these tips to heart and start designing your own thought-leadership surveys today. Who knows, your next survey could be the one that puts your brand on the map.

How does YouGov generate surveys for media coverage?

Our primary option for generating thought leadership surveys is YouGov Surveys: Serviced.

Working with a YouGov Researcher to design and send a rapid survey. We’ll assist with sample and survey design, providing options to target representative or target audiences for results you can quote in the media as official YouGov research.

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