Qualitative analysis is key to creating winning PR

If you have to choose between quality and quantity, always choose “both.” The idea that you should have one or the other … or, indeed, that you should choose one over the other … is bad policy all the way around. You need both. Your clients and your audience deserve both. If you’re not integrating qualitative research and analysis into your public relations campaigns, you are shortchanging yourself and your clients.

So, what is qualitative analysis, and how is it different from quantitative analysis?

First, we need to address exactly what it is not. Sometimes, PR reps will try to fly by assumption or guesstimates, rather than doing the hard but necessary work of analytics. There’s really no such thing as an “educated guess” in today’s big data world. You really can know. And, when you don’t know, but you pretend to, we have a cliché for that: “pulling numbers out of your … hat.”

For the most part, quantitative analysis is simple, easy and concrete. It’s lines on a spreadsheet, trends, percentages, profit or loss, ROI. When you finish a campaign and you can see, in real numbers and in real time, the amount spent versus the profit, attention or media gained, this is quantitative analysis.

Qualitative analysis measures a campaign, a message or any other metric or factor by its quality, rather than its quantity. It’s more about how we go about describing those factors or metrics … without using numbers. It’s also about measuring influence and likelihood, the study of motivation, preferences, choices and whims. Of biases and hopes and desires. You can’t always put a number on “want to,” but you sure can sell to it. And the better you understand it, the more you will sell.

If you are looking for quantitative data, you may want to conduct a specific survey, collect and measure massive data sets, employ tracking software to measure ROI or compare data sets taken at different times and in different situations, but involving at least one constant.

For qualitative data, consider a focus group, a series of case studies, random interviews and essay-style surveys or questionnaires that allow participants to extrapolate on the standard answers.

Another way to think of it: quantitative data records and measures investment. Qualitative data records and measures experience. You may not be able to put a specific dollar figure on the worth of a good first date, a trip to the theater, walk in the park or a week in the Bahamas, but you know how much you are willing to spend on each of these. And, after the fact, you can be certain to feel you got a bargain or you got ripped off. In every case, that assessment requires both quantitative and qualitative measures.

In public relations, measuring the value of experience and the power of messaging to influence may not always involve specific numbers that you can easily place on a graph or a balance sheet. But that doesn’t mean those factors are not important. Sometimes, they are among the most important ways to delineate a win and a missed opportunity.

Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5WPR and one of the most well-respected Public Relations professionals in the United States.

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Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5W Public Relations, one of the largest independently-owned PR firms in the United States. With over 20 years of experience crafting and executing powerful narratives, Torossian is one of America's most prolific and well-respected Public Relations professionals. Since founding 5WPR in 2003, he has led the company's growth, overseeing more than 175 professionals in the company's headquarters in midtown Manhattan. With clients spanning corporate, technology, consumer and crisis, in addition to digital marketing and public affairs capabilities, 5WPR is regularly recognized as an industry leader and has been named "PR Agency of the Year" by the American Business Awards on multiple occasions. Throughout his career, Torossian has worked with some of the world's most visible companies, brands and organizations. His strategic, resourceful approach has been recognized with numerous awards including being named the Stevie American Business Awards 2020 Entrepreneur of the Year, the American Business Awards PR Executive of the Year, twice over, an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year semi-finalist, Metropolitan Magazine's Most Influential New Yorker, and a 2020 Top Crisis Communications Professional by Business Insider. Torossian is known as one of the country's foremost experts on crisis communications, and is called on to counsel blue chip companies, top business executives and entrepreneurs both in the United States and worldwide. Torossian has lectured on crisis PR at Harvard Business School, appears regularly on CNN & CNBC, was named to PR Week's "40 under Forty" list, is a contributing columnist for Forbes and the New York Observer, and his book, "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results With Game-Changing Public Relations" is an industry best-seller. A NYC native, Torossian lives in Manhattan with his children. He is a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO), and active in numerous charities.