Survey Says: Using Survey Data in Consumer Health

If you work for a brand that doesn’t necessarily have news to report on a regular basis, sometimes you have to create your own news. And, survey research is a great way to do that! After the award-winning success of our last public education campaign with the American Physical Therapy Association where we identified the Top 10 Fittest Baby Boomer Cities in America using survey research, we decided to use the strategy once again in a campaign for National Physical Therapy Month. APTA staff worked with members to determine 7 common myths about physical therapy that may discourage consumers from experiencing the benefits of physical therapist treatment. From those myths we developed a survey to determine the extent to which they exist among their target audiences. We used various tactics to debunk these myths, including media relations, advertising, a webpage and an infographic. Here are the four best practices I learned for effectively leveraging survey research:

APTA Infographic PortionCreate an Infographic

I know this one may seem fairly obvious, but when used correctly, infographics can be a wonderful tool, especially in consumer healthcare. Infographics take detailed, sometimes boring information and put it in a form that is interesting and palatable for the average consumer. And, infographics are perfect for numbers, like survey data! Just keep in mind that you can’t possibly share everything you learned from the survey, and you’ll overwhelm people if you try. Pick out seven to 10 data points you want to highlight and make those the focus of the piece. Need some inspiration? Check out my 2013 list of the top 7 health infographics.

MFSocialMedia_FIttiestCities_1SanJose (2)Use Shareable Graphics

Speaking of images, snippets of data from survey results often make great content for shareable social graphics. Create a series of eye-catching graphics, each with a different message or fact and share them during your campaign. This is an easy and visually interesting way for people to share facts revealed by your survey on social media. Add your logo, URL or hashtag to the graphic for extra brand recognition.

Plan Your Media Tools

We all know the media loves some good research data, especially if it is presented the right way. If media coverage is one of your goals, discuss possible angles before fielding your survey, or even determining your topic, to ensure the information you gather will be pitch-able. Once you’ve received your results, determine the best way to package the data so media can use it easily. Some will want a brief overview and some may want the in depth data, so have both options available. Consider creating a fact sheet with information about the study including methodology and sample as well as key findings from the research. This increases the credibility of your findings and saves you the time of answering one-off questions like “how large was your sample?” and “what was your confidence level?” by email. Have the data in a shareable format as well, in case they ask. It’s always better to be over prepared than under.

Consider Advertising

APTA Native AdAlthough in PR circles, advertising has somewhat gone the way of the birds, it is an important tool to consider when creating your own news. Content like survey data and infographics are especially great for native advertising, often considered a less intrusive and more credible form of advertising since it appears as editorial content. And, while not all organizations can afford national advertising for campaigns, advertising on social channels can be incredibly cheap and very effective. Use the shareable graphics mentioned above for a few targeted Facebook ads to ensure your social following is being exposed to your content.

Keep in mind, survey data doesn’t always have to be as formal and expensive as a statistically significant survey. It can be as simple as sharing the results of a Facebook poll of your followers. Anything that provides interesting, relevant data in a visual and engaging way can be effective for consumer health audiences.

Now, let’s take our own survey… have you ever used research data for consumer outreach or media relations? Share your response in the comments.


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