Thursday, November 20, 2008

Survey sez

Lately, I've begun to feel like one of those anonymous but oft-referred to people 'behind the board' on Family Feud. You know ones responsible for answering the questions the panelists try to guess.

By that I mean I've been getting more and more requests to complete surveys. It could be from a hotel (on a scale of one to five, did I find the pillows comfortable...); a professional organization (I get these a lot); a conference I attended; a store I shopped at; an online destination… The list goes on and on.

And they’re all looking for …what?
A. Demographics
B. Knowledge
C. My POV
D. Some of the above
E. All of the above
F. None of the above
G. There is no above

I'm beginning to wonder what everyone is doing with the mountains of data being gathered. Is there a meaningful analysis going on? Learning? Is there a market trading used demographic nuggets?

There’s so much noise out there. And so much useless minutiae being collected - information pollution.

Now, I'm not saying we should stop doing research. Far from it. Comprehensive, well thought out research is one of the keys to successfully practicing our profession. I just feel there should be more to it than qualitative results.

Many of us in PR have used surveys to come up with potential news hooks. Perhaps, as a first step to reduce the info junk pile, this is something our industry should stop (or at least greatly curtail).

Maybe instead of all the multiple-choices, we should spend more time talking to the right people, thinking and listening.

And go back to creating meaningful - and sustainable - stories.

1 comment:

neen said...

Could it be that there just isn't enough time to conduct face to face interviews?

In university I took a research course that had us using many different types of research techniquies, and I always found that surveys were the least helpful, unless we were looking for straight statistics. During my course the instructors promoted surveys because they said it yeilded the most results with the least amount of inconvenience for the participant.

I always found that the face-to-face interviews were always the most interesting, because they could always take an interesting turn at any moment.