Qualitative Research Methods in Public Relations and Marketing Communications

Qualitative Research Methods in Public Relations and Marketing Communications

Qualitative Research Methods in Public Relations and Marketing Communications

Qualitative Research Methods in Public Relations and Marketing Communications


Qualitative research holds great potential for the study of public relations and marketing communications due to its ability to enable researchers to be closely involved with research participants. This practical guide for those interested in conducting qualitative research takes readers through each stage of the research process. This book:* outlines research techniques* considers methods of data collection* includes sampling and strategies for data analysis, including computer analysis* appraises issues of reliability and validity from a qualitative perspectiveKey points are illustrated with examples from advertising, marketing, media relations, promotions, employee communications, public affairs and other forms of managed communication. Pedagogic features include hints for the internet, tips for overcoming problems and difficulties, examples, boxed features, summaries and overviews, and a wide range of examples and illustrations from international contexts.A highly practical and accessible guide, this is a core text for those undertaking undergraduate and master research methods courses on public relations and marketing communications degrees, and will be invaluable for those working on dissertations, theses or research as part of a professional assignment.


We have written this book for those studying public relations and marketing communications. Students of advertising, corporate communication, public affairs, communication management, internal communications and marketing are included within our focus. Our chapters are aimed primarily at undergraduate and masters students who are taking courses in research methods or about to embark on dissertation projects. Hopefully, PhD students will use the text as an introduction to the available literature on distinctive qualitative methodologies. Practitioners in the field may find some of the chapters interesting for their alternative approach to the more commonly practised evaluative research with its numbers and statistics.

When writing this text, we had three aims in mind. First, we wanted to help students make an informed judgement about the relevance of qualitative research to current issues in communication management. Second, we wished to provide a tool that would enable them to engage effectively with the 'realities' of managed communication. Third, we hoped to make a contribution towards raising the profile of qualitative methods within public relations and marketing communications research more generally. We have sought to do this by offering practical guidance, together with examples of empirical studies that are based on a qualitative approach. In places, we have presented the views of student researchers about their experiences of researching.

The book is organized into four parts. How to get started is the topic of Part I. This covers the ground between coming to an awareness of the nature of qualitative research and its relevance for contemporary public relations and marketing communications, through to writing a research proposal based on qualitative methods.

Part II is concerned with the design of a research project. It examines different and often co-existing orientations towards research, including case studies, grounded theory, ethnography, discourse analysis and phenomenology. It notes that each of these approaches may encompass a number of specific techniques or methods.

Part III, which discusses the data collection stage, presents a variety of methods for sampling and gathering the data.

Part IV focuses on analysing and interpreting the data and writing them up.

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