ASK FIVE: Lewis Wilkins, 4Media

Many news stories feature statistics from bespoke surveys that are generated by companies to inform and influence people. But with an ever increasing focus on data, how can organisations create great stories that still stack up under scrutiny? We spoke to Lewis Wilkins from 4Media Group to find out more.

Everyone is doing surveys. How do you make a survey stand out?
Surveys are a great way to secure exposure for a brand. Done well, they can add depth and insight to a story and really boost your chances of securing great coverage. Our team of experienced researchers are always looking for new trends, reviewing the news and looking for gaps and opportunities.

How do I make my survey resonate?

Like other communications disciplines, knowing and identifying your target audience is core to getting the right results. The next step is applying this and understanding in which print, broadcast and digital outlets the stories would be best placed.

How many survey respondents do you need? Usually for a survey of the general population then we’d recommend 2,000 respondents to make the data credible and reliable – particularly if the aim is to sell in the survey to the broadcast media. For a niche target audience then 1,000 or 500 – or even less could work – provided the sample used is relative to the size of the demographic within the general population.

Survey questions or creative idea? What comes first? With our creative team, we’ll often focus on the headline that we want to generate and what impact we want to create. Then when the research team are writing the survey they keep focused on this. For a strong, punchy statistic, we use a single choice question, keeping it simple and direct. Generally, avoid open-ended questions, unless you are looking for a funny/personal response or short anecdotes. Multiple choice questions work well for comparing a list of ideas against each other. In line with the Market Research Society guidelines, leading questions, where the respondent is encouraged to answer in a certain way, should never be used.

How do I get the most out of the survey data? A well-designed survey is likely to result in lots of interesting data. It can be tempting to include all of this in a single news release, but it is much more effective to use only the most relevant and newsworthy stats to back up the story. Think about how the data can be re-purposed for different channels like creating eye-catching infographics for social media channels, insightful blog posts, or even an in-depth white paper.