As more brands expand into international markets, global PR surveys are fast- becoming a go-to tool for PR campaigns charged with transcending borders. While surveys can vastly elevate the newsworthiness of almost any global campaign, it’s critical that they be designed correctly to truly leverage their power to create compelling headlines.
So, what can you do to get the best results from your next global PR survey?
At Kelton, we’ve spent the last 15 years carefully refining our approach to crafting headline-generating questions. After partnering with brands and PR agencies on thousands of surveys, we’ve identified a set of four rules to live by to get the most out of your investment:
1. Go broad with your content.
In an era where people on different continents share in cultural trends more than ever before, it can be easy to overlook region-specific beliefs and preferences that might affect how a PR campaign is received. While it may feel like the whole world is talking about goat yoga, something that may seem like it sits firmly atop this month’s international zeitgeist might fall flat to certain target audiences. Instead, it’s best to stick with narratives that appeal to universal human truths such as love, creativity, happiness, and family ties.
Global Campaign Spotlight: Procter & Gamble
Procter & Gamble-owned skincare brand SK-II did just this with their recent Global Dreams Index Survey, which polled some 5,400 women age 18 and over in 14 countries in six continents. The study found that half of women polled had given up their dreams for reasons including lack of financial support and the pressure to focus on marriage and motherhood, and that women most satisfied with their lives were the ones who had a chance to follow their dreams. By focusing on the wider themes of ambition and passion among women, SK-II was able to associate their brand with a message of encouragement that resonated well across diverse audiences.
2. Use a PR survey partner that understands– and designs for– cultural nuance.
PR survey questions might look easy to write to the untrained observer, but a poorly designed study can seriously muddle your intended narrative (or worse– open your brand up to major criticism). This is especially true when designing studies that involve multiple countries, as cultural nuance can be a major factor of, or barrier to, success. For instance, surveying respondents about alcohol consumption or dating habits wouldn’t be a good idea in countries where drinking and dating are frowned upon for religious reasons.
At the start of your campaign, seek out survey companies who proactively address how they’ll navigate designing for respondents from different countries and cultures. Make sure the partner you choose has experience with global surveys, knows the market you are fielding in well, and is prepared to adjust questions to suit cultural norms.
Global Campaign Spotlight: MAC AIDS Fund
MAC AIDS Fund’s PR agency, Praytell, turned to Kelton when they needed to field a highly sensitive global survey. Praytell was partnering with the MAC AIDS Fund on a campaign to spread awareness for a new documentary on HIV/AIDS, called “It’s Not Over,” and wanted to identify some surprising statistics around what teens knew, and didn’t know, about the disease. Our PR survey experts crafted polls for the UK, Ireland, and the US. It’s difficult to get teens to open up in general, and even harder to get them to speak honestly about health concerns. So we designed the questions to be non-judgmental and easy to understand, and tailored the language to reflect how topics are discussed in each country. The extra attention paid off: Data from this survey was featured in USA Today, BBC, Huffington Post UK, Teen Vogue, Seventeen, and more.
3. Design your survey to speak globally… and locally.
Put simply: you can get even more out of a global survey by thinking about narratives on both a global and local level. In addition to establishing the overarching story you want to tell from all of the collective research, take time to brainstorm country-specific storylines that could create an opportunity for more targeted outreach in certain markets. Designing your survey in this way will also better ensure that it exposes differences in opinions across markets, which makes for compelling headlines.
Global Campaign Spotlight: Microsoft
Kelton helped Microsoft generate buzz around a global product launch for its ergonomic keyboard equipment. Since office workers around the world suffer from twinges and aches after long hours at a computer, we designed custom online surveys in ten global markets to uncover pain points with keyboard and mouse setups. We also conducted a global analysis to highlight any differences between major markets, then crafted a compelling narrative about the widespread international need for more ergonomic desk setups. The product launch was featured in specialist publications like PC magazine and mainstream media such as USA Today.
4. Hone your focus by curating markets.
While it’s important to recognize and design for cultural differences, you don’t have to conduct field studies in every country under the sun if including a global perspective would bolster your next major campaign. By selecting markets that are representative of the larger region in which they reside, PR teams can save on time and costs while getting the same types of findings as they would with a 30+ country study. While every study is different, it’s generally best to select countries that offer the most opportunities in their respective regions (for example, survey the UK for Europe, China for Asia, or the UAE for the Middle East). These major commerce hubs are more likely to draw in people from surrounding nations, giving you a robust cross section of voices from the area you’re focusing on.
Global Campaign Spotlight: Royal Philips
Health technology company Royal Philips recently released the results of a global PR survey timed with World Sleep Day, which asked some 15,000 adults in the US, Europe, Asia and South America (totaling 13 countries) about their sleep habits and attitudes. By choosing to field surveys in larger markets that included major metropolitan areas with lots of diverse opinions, Royal Philips was able to highlight global differences without getting into the weeds with surveys in a laundry list of countries.
Identifying a winning headline that engages people domestically is hard enough. Finding a campaign narrative that widely appeals across multiple cultures and continents? Needle, meet haystack. As tough as the challenge is, a well-crafted global survey is the ultimate tool for PR professionals to break into international markets with narratives that really resonate. By following the four tried-and-true rules outlined above, you’ll be sure to get the most out of your next campaign.