The ad went like this: “You got peanut butter on my chocolate” and, then, “you got your chocolate in my peanut butter.” Finally, the catchy music would play, with the words many remember so well and heard for about twenty years: “two great tastes that taste great together… Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups…” Cynthia L Miller, Managing Director of Braun Research, Inc. takes up the story.

Did you know that Reese’s was created in 1928? And that Ketchum was founded in 1919? Or that the A.C. Nielsen Company was founded in 1923? Public relations and market research share a history that goes back many years – think about it; Ketchum will celebrate a Centennial in only three years!

Research has been part of the toolbox available to PR professionals for many years. And that trend is growing and increasingly growing at a global scale. And so, the analogy that these established professions and the blending of minds that happens when we combine the discipline of Public Relations and Corporate Reputation with PR is symbolic of the longevity of the ‘great tastes’ of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

Certainly, as it has for centuries, chocolate can hold its own. And, since its introduction, peanut butter will continue to be independently-minded. However, when chocolate and peanut butter combine efforts (e.g., Reese’s), the metaphoric tectonic bond is a force to be reckoned with. Similarly, public relations and market research are strong individually. But, when working together, as a team, as a partnership, the outcome proclaims an immeasurable global strength.

Let’s say a press release on a new film tells us that 85% of females in a study like a particular British romantic period drama. While this is ‘enough of the story’ for some, what goes on behind the scenes warrants delving deeper into the main plot. To reach to that 85%, much work is done and has been done, and those organizations that live or die by these numbers need to know about that work.

  • How can we best reach that target audience?
  • If we reach this audience, does that mean the movie will be a success?

To determine this, clients should insist on knowing about the methodology of the study (phone, online, mail, mixed, etc.) that is feeding their strategy development and insight process in addition to asking for details around:

  • the sample source (targeted list, RDD, panel, etc.),
  • sample frame (landline, cell, email, etc.), g
  • geographies (countries, states, cities, DMAs, etc.),
  • screening criteria (18+, income parameters, media habits, etc.), and
  • sample target (enough to weight, enough on which to base statistical significance).

Ultimately, the goals is to make sure your research is “righteous” and that your clients know who that “85%” audience is and how they can effectively reach that audience in order to build an impactful audience based strategy.

If someone were to ask the CEO of the movie studio if the movie will be a success and why, he or she cannot just say, well, we know 85% of our female target market liked it, so it will be a great success. Further analysis with the market research data by both the PR firm and its clients helps explain why the film will be a success if the right audience is reached. The right research study will reveal what are the key factors – is it, indeed, the actors, or is it something else? Is it age-related? Is it income-related, etc.? To answer these questions, the public relations company assisting the studio in its PR before the release of the film needs a solid research study and an even more solid design, with a robust sample frame. All of this is intertwined – none of the success can be realized without one of these elements.

“There’s no wrong way to eat a Reese’s.” And there is no wrong way to blend public relations and market research – as long as it is blended, that is just the beginning of the impressively powerful, global story we can tell – together.