Name a better duo than data and digital PR… we’ll wait.
On a serious note, there are few things that editors and journalists love more than new research. Not only does it help you gain coverage for your campaigns, it’s a great way to position your brand as a leader in your field, however, conducting a survey can be costly.
If your budget doesn’t stretch that far, there are other ways you can make use of free data, you just have to be a little creative.
Use your own data
Most companies have more owned data than they realise, and it can be very interesting if selected and positioned carefully. For example, purchase data can reflect consumer trends in your industry. Large organisations with a well organised CRM may also have access to enquiry data that tells a great story too. Even user behaviour information from your own website can illustrate a point well. The key is to ensure that it supports something of wider interest to the industry and isn’t simply an excuse for self-promotion.
Search volume data
While this isn’t data you own, it’s also not likely to be prevalent within the public domain either. For example, if we decided to look into searches for ‘digital marketing agencies’ during the pandemic, we might find some interesting stats that suggests companies are thinking about reinvesting in their marketing efforts again. How you slice and dice the stats is unique to you, so it’s unlikely others will be sharing the exact same data. Google Trends is great for looking at how searches for particular words and phrases have changed over time.
Freedom of Information requests
Anyone has the right to see recorded information held by public authorities, as part of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Your request will be handled by the relevant body, so for example if you are asking for environmental information, your request would be handled under the Environmental regulations. This can be done via a manner of ways, including by letter, online form, or by email. Find out more on how to make an FOI request here.
Again, this isn’t data you own, but it’s also not readily available either, so it will appeal to journalists, especially if given as an exclusive. Not only is it data that isn’t currently published, it saves them work. However, it can take a while to receive a reply, so do bear this in mind when planning your project.
Build your own survey
The advantage of using a research company to handle your survey for you is that they of course have access to enough recipients. Before you begin, it’s important to think about what size sample base you need to make your research credible. They’re also likely to be able to get those responses much more quickly too, plus if you work with a name like YouGov for example, you’re adding a layer of credibility to your survey.
However, if you’re keen to save costs, and have enough time, you could build your own survey through a tool like SurveyMonkey, and promote it yourself. The advantage of this is that the promotion for this, through social media or email marketing for example, creates brand awareness in itself.
Use existing data but present it in an alternative way
There’s nothing wrong with using existing data, but if you can use it in a slightly different way, you may be able to get the coverage you’re looking for. For example, it might be a case of combining different sources into a new data set, or you might choose to take existing data and present it in a different way visually, for example in the form of an infographic. Just remember to credit the source, and where possible use trusted sources like the Office for National Statistics or Data.gov.uk for example.