Repetition Isn’t Just For Schoolchildren: Creative Reporting Strategies for Promoting Survey Results

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Posted Sep 20, 2011
Kathryn Korostoff

When you've completed an online survey project using Ask Your Target Market, you automatically get a report which includes all your basic data and a set of crisp charts and graphs. In many cases, though, you'll need to create additional reporting to meet the needs of different audiences. These might be company executives who like a PowerPoint version, or perhaps a particular department that prefers more written analysis. While the AYTM report alone may be adequate for some projects, in many cases you’ll likely need to create additional deliverables.

First, Establish Your Goals


What is it that we hope to accomplish? What are our goals for these additional deliverables? Basically, there are two:

  • Improve retention. We don’t want our hard-earned research results to go in one ear and out the other. Creative reporting gives us the opportunity to repeat information, and that’s key. Though it’s a technique commonly used with schoolchildren, this applies to business people just as well: repetition is important to retention. And because repetition leads to retention, our deliverables strategy should allow us to repeat key information.
  • Assure use. We need to make sure that people actually use the results of our work. It's one thing to remember the results; it's quite another to actually use them. They're not going to use our research to make important business decisions if they’re not comfortable with it, so we have to be certain that we're conveying our results in a way that's credible and clear.

Three Tactics for Improving Retention of Online Survey Results

  1. Blog it — If it’s available, repeat some of the key information from the research results on an internal company blog (or employee newsletter). Perhaps at the end of your project you distributed a larger report or did a final presentation. Now you can take some of the key components and repackage them for the blog or newsletter. It’s a great way to get bite-sized pieces of information back out in front of your audience.
  2. Podcast it— This can be especially effective if you're in an organization with a lot of people who commute. Your colleagues may be using podcasts in their cars anyway, so they may be comfortable with an audio version of key results, rather than a PowerPoint deck on a server someplace. One caution, though; attention spans for podcasts are limited. You'll need to keep it to 10 or 15 minutes, but you can convey the really key points in that time. Alternatively you could do it as a series of two or three podcasts. Another tip: Don’t just give the results. Start with a few words about how you did the research and why— the data will be more credible if they understand the context.
  3. Video it — Creative reporting can also be done with video. Take your flip cam and conduct an interview with a company executive who’s going to use the research results. Literally interview them about what the research is and why they think it's important. The great thing about interviewing an executive is that it creates a sense of urgency in your internal audience, making them more likely to want to use your results themselves. They’re also more likely to retain the information the executive has expressed an interest in.

Creative reporting is all about making it convenient and credible. Don't geek them out with statistics, just be very clear about the methodology and repeat, repeat, repeat the key findings. When done well, familiarity breeds contentment, and the more they see it, the more comfortable they’ll become.Think about the last time you got a new software application; the first time you used it, you may have been frustrated or uneasy. But after repeat exposures, what happened? You became more comfortable and started to use all of its cool features. The same thing applies with survey data. After multiple exposures, your audience will accept your findings almost automatically, and be more likely to actually use them!Image: faith goble

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