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Communication Research Methods in Journalism and Public Relations

Communication Research Methods in Journalism and Public Relations

June 8,2017

Communication research basically is an art of scientific investigation or an in-depth academic activity that lays emphasis on the various aspects of communication. The development of research in Nigeria has been very slow. Many public and private organisations do not have a research or development department. In the profession of Journalism and Public Relations, research should have a special appeal to practitioners because the two professions required highly functional information in contemporary society. This is technological age in which speculative reporting of events is vastly replaced by statistics; scientific findings are taking over from superstitious. 

It is hoped that mass communicators who have been practising their profession in the traditional technique of “who’’ says “what’’, to “whom’’  “where’’, “how’’ and “why’’ and to what effect  would begin to think of a different  approach to the practice of their calling (Sobowale, 2008). Sobowale added that the need for consumer of statistical information disseminated through the mass media, to fully understand what they read in the paper, listen to on radio or view on television, cannot be over stated. Unless the consumers of mass media messages understand the process of gathering and presenting the information they buy, they may not be able to appreciate the significance of the message to which they are exposed. Yet they will be expected to act on the basis of such information.
 Journalists will be looked upon with admiration once the politicians, bureaucrat, religious bodies, business establishment, social scientists and of course, academicians are sure that they can be relied upon for accurate forecasting or predictions of trends in politics, economics, education or agriculture. There is no profession that does not undertake one form of investigation of another in a bid to adapt itself to the trends affecting its practice and the society at large. In fact, the whole world is what it is today because some people had taken, and some are still taking, the pains to examine why certain things are what they are. Virtually all inventions are results of researches undertaken by different individuals or groups in different fields of endeavour. To some people, research is only a language of sciences. That is not true. Research, because of its ability to establish relationships between two or more variables and or phenomena has become an instrument for enhancing not only the quality of goods and services but also of life and the larger society (Raufu, 2014).
All the professions in Mass Communication (Journalism, marketing, advertising and Public Relations) make use of research in almost similar ways.  While Public relations is essentially an art of persuasion and focuses on how to influence people, disseminating information, maintaining relationship, creating positive image for organization and  its publics, research in Journalism is undertaken to ascertain coverage areas and readership etc.  This is apart from the fact that newsgathering itself involves research. Investigative, in-depth etc reporting explains this fact.


Communication: Communication is derived from the latin words communis, and communicare which translate as common and to share respectively. This means that communication aims at the sharing of information, ideas and messages, making them universal. It would appear that this sense of sharing is easy to achieve in human interaction. This is not always the case in the complex business world (Ogbulogo, 2004). Communication can also mean two-way process of reaching mutual understanding, in which participants not only exchange (encode-decode) information, news, ideas and feelings but also create and share meaning. In general, communication is a means of connecting people or places. In business, it is a key function of management. An organization cannot operate without communication between levels, departments and employees. Ogbulogo (2004) defined Communication as a process of transmitting messages from a source to receivers using a signaling system.
Communication is simply the act of transferring information from one place to another. It can be Spoken or Verbal Communication: face-to-face, telephone, radio or television and other media. Non-Verbal Communication: body language, gestures, how we dress or act - even our scent.
Akpan-Iquot in Etukudo (1986: 202) stated that Americans sees communication as a process of transmitting messages at a distance for the purpose of control. The archetypal case of communication then is persuasion, attitude change, behaviour modification, socialization through the transmission of information, influence or conditioning. By contrast, Akpan-Iquot also posited that the European sees communication studies as a ritual because they consider it as a process through which shared culture is created, modified and transformed. The archetypal case of communication is ritual and mythology for those who come at a problem from anthropology; art and literature- for those who come at the problem from literary criticism and history. A ritual view of communication research, it must be noted, is not directed towards the extension of messages in space, but the maintenance of society in time. It is not the act of importing information or influence, but the creation, representation and celebration of shared beliefs. If a transmission view of communication centers on the extension of messages across geography for purposes of control, a ritual view centres on the sacred ceremony which draws person together in fellowship and communality.
Akpan-Iquot added that Mass communication studies in the United States have found most problematic the condition under which persuasion occurs. American studies in communication have centered on mass and interpersonal, have aimed at stating the precise psychological and sociological conditions under which attitudes are changed, formed or reinforced; behaviour stabilized or redirected. Specific forms of culture-art, ritual, journalism- enter the analysis, only indirectly, if at all. They enter only in so far as they contribute to such sociological conditions or constitute such psychological forces. Akpan-Iquot made it clear that:
Mass communication research in the United States can be described as behavioural research-it is the study of human beings rather than inanimate or non-human objects. It is a branch of the behavioural sciences such as psychology, sociology and anthropology. It is usually seen as an interdisciplinary research, since it borrows tools and knowledge of various other fields of study that will help in the understanding of mass communication problems. It does not confine itself to any particular point of view or body of theory or subject matter. It may borrow from linguistics, general semantics, philosophy, economics or any other discipline that might help communication effectiveness. It is a scientific research-since it uses scientific methodology in solving communication problems. As in any science, mass communication research aims at explaining, predicting and controlling. To achieve this objective, its method must be objective as opposed to subjective, and systematic as opposed to unsystematic. Mass communications research is quantitative research.
Randomization, the laws of probability and mathematical, statistical techniques all help to make more precise and meaningful the findings from any particular investigation. This may not be the only definition of mass communication research, since it tends to leave out other kinds of research that have been done in the field of journalism and mass communications. Having examined the modalities under which mass communications research have been conducted in Britain and the United States, one could say that interested Nigerian mass communications practitioners would not be lacking in references or techniques upon which to base their studies Akpan-Iquot stated.
Research: Research can be defined as controlled, systematic, empirical and critical enquiry   of hypothetical propositions about the presumed relationship between two or more phenomena. Daramola (2011) defined research as any kind of study that leads to discovery of new knowledge. Selltiz, Wrightsman and Cook (1976) cited in Ajala (2009:1) stated that “to research is to search again, to make another, more careful look, to find out more.’’ She opined that we need to take another look because something may be wrong with what we already know; and that we must realise that it is possible to be right for the wrong reasons. Research as she stated allows us to accumulate knowledge and make improvement without discarding old wisdom in favour of new facts. There are some key words in the stated definitions that need explanation. It is therefore imperative to explain them.
Journalism: Journalism is the art of gathering, writing and publishing news through the journal. It is a form of writing that tells people about things that really happened, but which they might not have known about already. People who write journalism are called “journalists.” They might work at newspapers, magazines, websites, blogs or for TV or radio stations. The most important characteristic shared by good journalists is curiosity. Good journalists love to read, they are curious and want to find out as much as they can about the world around them.
Journalism Research: When journalism researchers say “system”, a kind of unity is taken for granted. For many it is obvious that journalism is a kind of “communication”. We have no intentions to engender any doubts. But we shall not accept an epistemological dualism between systems theory and subject theory in journalism research. It is common use to atomize the journalism system into general subjects (newsmen, gatekeepers, “our reader”), and into special subjects (paparazzi, spin-doctors, “noble pens” and the like. Journalism systems reduced to journalists make sense to common sense. But subjects are not researchable in journalism, because the concepts of subjects do not permit to test the identity of journalism systems in their manifold social, factual and timely dimensions, in reference to politics, economy, law, ethics, and other environmental systems of world society (Rühl, 2004).

Rühl added that unacceptable for journalism research is the practice to operate with “communication”, “behaviour” and “action” as comparable journalistic faculties, or the usage to operate with gatekeeper research, newsroom research, media research, the research of attitudes, motives and opinions as theories on the same level of explanation. Forcing a variety of day-to-day experiences with journalism into scholarly journalism research, declaring the exercise a success when, with the help of short-term empirical projects a couple of variables are put through a sophisticated statistical grinder, selling the product as scholarly knowledge on journalism - this is not a convincing process of challenging questions on journalism’s past, present or future problems (Rühl, 2004).

Communication Research: Communication research basically is an art of scientific investigation or an in-depth academic activity that lays stress on the various aspects of communication.
Public Relations: John Marston (1963) defined public Relations (PR) as “the top management function which evaluates public attitude, identifies policies and procedures of an organization with the public interest, and executes programme of action to earn public understanding and acceptance. This means that in the public relations discipline, ethics includes values such as honesty, openness, loyalty, fair-mindedness, respect, integrity, and forthright communication in order to earn public understanding and acceptance.
 Public Relations performs the vital function of developing relationships with stakeholders as well as with the public. It should  not  be  about  disseminating  misleading  information to make  an  organisation  or  individual  look  good. Rather, public relations functions as a strategic management activity and advises management   on   developing, implementing and maintaining relationships with its public.
The role of public Relations is to ensure the institution’s reputation is protected and enhanced, while maximizing opportunities to demonstrate organization’s desired leadership position. The objective of public relations is to achieve true dialogue, consent, mutual understanding, and harmony in a complete openness way. Public Relations is an integral of good management but can only make its full contribution if practitioners have a comprehensive base of knowledge and resources (Grunig, 1997).
Systematic Means: When something or activity is not done in a haphazard/disorganized manner, done according to laid down rules and regulation (procedure), not simple but follow a plan.
Critical Means: A decisive and crucial way to find out faults.
Empirical Means: Something that can be observed, something visible and practical.
Hypothetical propositions are: Imaginary statement, Statement not backed by evidence; Statements based on forecast, prediction or conjecture; Statements which may or may not be true.
Proposition Means: Plan, Proposal, suggestion.
Presumed Relations Are: Belief held about something, assumption made about something.
Natural Phenomena Refer To: Things that happens around us, things that we do from time to time, things that we may or may not see with our eyes, things around us.
Controlled Means: to manage or organize under a certain environment. It is an attempt to isolate a particular variable of interest for investigation.
Elements of Communication Research
Winner and Dominic in their book Mass Media Research said that there are four basic elements of communication research. These are:
1. Concept and constructs: A concept is an abstract idea found by generalizing from particulars and summarizing related observations. Concepts are important in a communication research, because they simplify the research process by combining particular characteristics, objects or people into more general categories. Secondly, it simplifies communication among those who have a shared understanding of them.
A construct has three basic characteristics. First of all, it is an abstract idea that is usually broken down into dimensions represented by lower level concepts. We can say that construct is a combination of concept. Secondly, a construct cannot be observed directly. Lastly, a construct is designed for some particular research purpose so that its exact meaning relates to the context in which it is found.
2. Measurement: Measurements are everywhere if a researcher assigns numerals to objects, events or properties according to certain rules. Numerals have no implicit quantitative meaning. In mass media research the researchers usually measure indicators of the properties of individuals or objects.
3. Variables: Variables are classified in terms of their relationship with one another. Independent variable and dependent variable are two major types of variables. Dependent variables are what the researcher wishes to explain. The researcher systematically varies the independent variables.
4. Scale: According to Wimmer and Dominic, measurement scale is the last basic element of communication research. A scale represents a composite measure of the variable. It is based on more than one item. Rating scales are common in mass media research. Some other scales such as thurstone scale, guttmen scale, likert scale, cementic differential scales etc are commonly used in media research.
There are some other important elements which are popular among the communication researchers. Feedback and feed forward are commonly used for communication researches.
Feedback plays an important role in a communication process. When a sender encodes a message to the receiver and when the receiver does not send any response or feedback to the sender, then it is not counted that the communication process is complete. Feedback is needed to know how the communication processes or efforts are influencing the persons or parties that have been targeted; feedback is also needed to determine if any improvements or changes are required to be effective for smooth flow of the process. Audience feedback is always required for all the media houses. Therefore, many media houses, conduct audience feedback surveys to improve the quality of their programmes.
Feed forward: Feed forward is an effective tool that provides individuals or organizations with suggestions for the future and helps them achieve a positive change in behaviour, output, quality of production etc. For example, suppose a television channel or a newspaper is going to launched within a short period. Then the media organization may conduct a survey as to what kind of programmes the target audience want to watch or what types of news they want to read in a newspaper. After analyzing the collected data from the survey, the media organization prepares the programmes or the news sections depending on the feed forward. It is widely used to determine the nature of programmes/news. Basically, feed forward means the response about a certain event or activity being carried out which is acquired in advance by utilizing different methods.
As a scientific area, Journalism has been beset with the scarcity of specialized manuals for guidance regarding methodologies and procedures adopted in research practices. Journalism research is a field of activity undergoing constant progress and evolution, (Nafziger, 1949)  cited in (Machado, 2010) argued that the scientific work in the area cannot be limited to descriptions or explanations of how things are done or how the press, radio and movies operate, but should also include historical studies, examine critically the social aspect as well as the market value of communication practices and services, and explore the relations of the communication media with other fields of study.
The most significant development in the study of Journalism has probably been the recent progress in the use of new methods and procedures deriving from disciplines such as psychology, sociology, anthropology and political science for comprehension of its problems. Based on the possibility of the utilization of scientific methods for resolving problems involving professional practice and research,
(Machado, 2010) quoted Nafziger stating that the development of Journalism research led gradually to the incorporation of the four stages of scientific method:
 1.) Search for the facts, research by observation and experiment
2.) Formulation of theories to explain the data;
3.) Analysis of the material and
4.) Testing the theory and checking the data.
Nigerian media practitioners can no longer rely on personal contacts with people of the community, through informal means; or through experience. According to Akpan-Iquot these unsystematic, informal, intuitive methods are no longer adequate for the following reasons:
1.      The Increasing Number of Communication Media: In present day Nigeria, an average citizen has access to many media communications-local and out-of-town newspapers, at least one television station; radio station, magazines books and movie houses.
2.      Increasing Competition among the Media for Attention:  Since no individual has enough time to read or listen to all media, or even pay attention to all the output from one medium, this means a small fraction of available output will be selected and the rest ignored. This leads to intense competition among the different media to capture as much of the public’s time and attention as possible. Obviously, the newspaper or magazine or radio, television station, website, blog that succeeds in satisfying the needs of the public, whose messages are interesting and easy to absorb, will get a good share of public attention.
3.      The Increasing Number of People in the Audience: An editor or broadcaster has several thousand readers, viewers or listeners, and the tendency is constantly toward larger audiences. No communicator can possibly have a personal contact with everyone in the audience and knowledge of all their varying needs, likes, dislikes and opinions.
4.      The Changing Tastes of the Public: Nigerians are becoming increasingly better educated and sophisticated. They travel more, know more about the rest of the world, and are constantly developing broader interests through exposure to more communications from outside their immediate environment. Decisions cannot and should not be based on what was known to be true ten years ago. The public is constantly changing in taste and mood.
The above are good reasons why the effective communicator, whether public relations officer, an editor, or a broadcaster-can no longer rely on hunches and intuition alone to capture and hold the attention of the public.
As Harry Henry says in his work, Motivation Research cited in Akpan-Iquot (1986: 202):
“There are examples of course, of ‘hunch-merchants’ who hit on successful ideas with enormous success, and finish up as classic case histories. But no case histories are written up of the 99 equally self-confident but not so lucky ventures whose only spell of glory is in brief trips to the bankruptcy court.”
Modern media practitioners are turning more and more to communication research, a specialty that has grown up in the past two decades to help answer some of the questions they do not have the time or training to answer for themselves. The communication researcher is just one member of the team of writers, editors, artists, public relation practitioner, advertising specialists- working together to help a medium do its job- which is to transmit information to a mass public.
Areas of Communication Research
In journalism and public relations, the volume of communications research has developed in recent years as an increasing number of scholars have been attracted to the stated discipline. Two trends have accompanied this growth. The breadth of communications research has grown as scholars with varying interests have delved into  and investigated different areas-those of political communication, consumer interests, and media economics; and the depth of communication research has increased as scholars taking different avenues have tended to specialize within one area or another. As a result, communications research could be divided in a number of approaches. One approach is to categorize research within the four aspects of the communications process: the communicator, the message, the channel and the audience (Akpan-Iquot, 1986). In addition, the stated process takes place in an environment, hence the need to add environmental/trend research.
Types of Research within Each Category
It is not enough to be called a mass communicator, just because we have training in one or more areas of communications.
Communicator Research: This type of research helps us to determine the performance of the practitioners. In one study, it was discovered that stories resulting from assignments by editors were more accurate than those originated by the reporters or stemming from coverage of meetings. Another study revealed that news personnel with “supportive images” (establishment-oriented) reported so-called good news more accurately than bad news, whereas those with critical images on the society did a more accurate job on bad news.
Message Research: Another way to look at this is the content analysis. With scientific methodology, the research can determine the relative degree of the difficulty of any message and inferences can be made about the intent of the communicator as well.
Media/Channel Research: The channel through which a message is transmitted is closely related to the effectiveness of the message. This is due in part to the differing characteristics of the various media, which perform somewhat differently the functions of informing, interpreting, entertaining and selling. By their character, content, style, and geographic coverage, media, to a great extent, are able to select their desired audiences. We know readily which newspapers in Nigeria have a more national appeal and which ones do not. Advertisers are especially interested in which media can best deliver their messages and in knowing something about the people who comprise the potential audience of a medium. And, in face-to-face communication, we often use facial expressions-a smile, for example-to a much greater advantage than a flow of pleasant words.
Communication channels are vital ways through which government can determine and measured. People expressed their opinion on issues of local or national importance through radio, television, newspapers, magazines, billboards, leaflets, internet among others. A good and listening government would deem it necessary to explore all the channels of communication to determine opinion on issues.
In the modern society, mass media have a significant influence in opinion formation. Media is the plural of medium. Mass media refer to a variety of means of communication that is devoid of personal interaction between the encoders and decoders (senders and recipients) of the messages. The media of communication such as radio, television, newspapers, magazine, internet, textbooks are very powerful. Many government officials, and many citizens, look to the media (print and electronic) to understand the views of the public on issues of national interest. The electronic media appeal to both literate and the illiterate members of our society. The media are important in understanding people’s opinions.  They are important in determining the political agenda (what people in the government are thinking about) and in framing the issues (how the issues are being considered).
The print media are also important as channels of opinions from editorialists, columnists, and ordinary people who write letters to the editor. Most large newspapers print the opinions of their editors and run the articles of the progressive and conservative columnists. Most also print letters to the editor that that allow ordinary people the power to express any opinion. Some magazines, such as Tell and the News to some degree cover politics in an essentially nonpartisan manner, but there are many more magazines that represent practically any political point of view in Nigeria political field.
Modern information technologies such as internet (Facebook, Twitter among others) and cable TV have made it possible for the actual realisation of making the entire world a global village. It is possible for a very large crowd of audience to be divided and approached as a smaller group of people with specialised interest.
The new technology has a lot of impact and implication for human activities. In the past before the advent of new technology, the audiences of mass media used to be anonymous and unidentified without direct means of responding to media messages. It is now possible to respond direct to some radio, television and internet programmes. The feedback can be through phone call especially during phone in programmes on radio and TV and internet chatting system.
Nowadays, Nigerians are becoming more political conscious than ever before. Articles in The Punch, The Guardian, The Nation newspapers or on popular websites/blogs have a great influence on the underlying predisposition of Nigerian electorates. The rate at which the youth pay attention to news especially political news, on the internet is improving every day in day out. The internet has become a veritable platform for political discussion among the new generation of Nigerians. Sometimes apolitical journals of professional bodies such as Nigerian Labour Congress, Nigerian Medical Associations, and Nigerian Union of Teachers can have influence that would shape political landscape especially in policy making.
Audience Research: The bulk of journalism or communications research is concerned with mass media audiences. Communicators need to know the behaviour, interests, tastes, attitudes, and opinions of the people whom they seek to reach. Most public relations practitioner and advertisers would like to know the number and description of people in a medium’s audience so they may reach so they may reach the right kind of person for their products. Where market research is taken seriously, a manufacturer of, say, a babies food may want to learn which of two magazines or newspapers with equal circulation has the large number of young married women. Publishers and editors require audience information so they may select editorial content that fits their readers’ needs. Young readers tend to be different from adult readers, according to studies. Researchers have also gone beyond simply describing the audience of mass media; they are seeking to determine the gratifications people derive from using the media. Still, others are focusing on children of different ages, trying to learn how children understand what they see and hear on television.

Environmental/Trend Research: Researchers, politicians and organisations do carry out   environmental scanning. In advanced world, this type of research is being carried out on regular basis. It involves finding out major and minor issues that are more likely going to affect the activities, operations, existence, survival and profitability and growth of the society or organisation. It is important because the person has to continually inform the organisation on the trends, issues, using the hard facts and figures generated. It is also essential because it provides the necessary information that organisation executives, politicians and government officials will utilized in public speeches and interviews.
If the people who refuse to answer, or are never reached, have the same characteristics as the people who do answer, then the final results should be unbiased. If the people who do not answer have different opinions, then there is bias in the results. In terms of election polls, studies suggest that bias effects are small, but each polling firm has its own techniques for adjusting weights to minimize selection bias.

 Formal Methodologies for carrying out research are usually categorized into quantitative and qualitative methods. Formal methods are generally more systematic in approaches than informal strategies. Formal methods are likely to be carried out by social scientist scholars who understand their uses and who are less likely than politicians or other non-scholars to misuse, abuse or exploit them or misinterpret them as representing mass public opinion.
Quantitative methods involve numbers and usually statistics. That is the interpretation and presentation of the final analysis of quantitative method are recorded in figures and backed up with few words or sentences. Most public research is conducted quantitatively, almost always by surveys. Quantitative study measures level of occurrence, studies actions, it is objective; asks questions without revealing a point of view, provides proof, measures levels of actions and trends, describes, asks "How many?" and "How often? The use of quantitative methods focused on content analysis of the media and on audience response the Communication content.
Although qualitative research methodologies have a propensity to be less important in academic research, they are often very important when politicians and candidates conduct research for their own reasons. One qualitative methodology, focus group discussions, is used extensively by politicians as before and during electioneering campaigns. It provides depth of understanding, studies motivations, it Is subjective; probes individual reactions to discover underlying motivations, enables discovery, Is exploratory,  allows insights into behavior and trends Interprets, asks "Why?".                                                                                                 
Another way of categorizing Methods in Communication research methods in journalism are: survey, content analysis, historical, focus group, in-depth interview, textual analysis, internet research among others.
This is a method of research that is suitable to find out people’s current attitudes, opinions and appropriate for describing and predicting their behaviour. Many researchers consider survey research as the most important way to learn about public opinion. This method centres on people and suitable to study a large population. Survey research seeks to provide empirical data collected from a population of respondents on a whole number of issues. Some researchers believe that survey research is the only way to learn about or carry out public opinion research, and they give over all, or almost all, of their analysis of public opinion to the analysis of survey research Method.
Survey method is the most frequently used by researchers and the basic instrument for this kind of research is the questionnaire. It standardizes and organizes the gathering, arrangement and processing of data to obtain desirable information. In the process of employing questionnaire as a tool, there is the chance for asking identical or very similar questions from large population.
There are chiefly three ways to survey people: face-to-face interviews, telephone interviews, and mail surveys among others.
Questionnaire is one of the useful tools in survey research method. The questionnaire is an important instrument for obtaining information from people concerning their perception, opinion, attitudes and behaviour in survey studies. It is a research instrument through which a researcher communicates needs to a group of respondents, stimulates responses, and present data in a form that is meaningful for analysis. It simply means the collection or the total number of questions asked or material used to get answers to question posed to respondents. Under normal condition, questionnaire consists of one or more printed or type written sheets on which questions for respondents are written.
Identification of the Universe/Population
There is the need for the researcher to determine the population of his study. The population to be survey must be clearly defined. That is, he /she must find out whose opinions are to be sampled and how many respondents are required.
Sampling Frame and Sampling Size
Sampling is done in order that the researcher may take some elements, subjects or respondents in his population to represent that population (Sobowale, 2014: 37). Sampling frame refers to complete list of all elements in the population of the study. If the population of a study is the students of University of Lagos, it then means that all the students of the institution starting from number 1 to the last number (1-last number). If the population of a study is the editions of the Guardian newspaper for the month of September, it means that the sample frame is 1- 30 copies of the Guardian, because there are 30 days in the month of September.
Out of the total population, there is the need to select sample size that would be used for the study. The sample size is the fractional and selected part of the population that represents the entire population.
The method of selecting sample size can either be probability or non-probability sampling.
      Probability Sampling
Probability sample refers to samples that are selected or chosen in line with mathematical rules and regulations. That is there is mathematical guideline that must be followed in selecting or choosing samples for research studies and when this is followed to the letter, it is referred to as probability sampling. It is a sampling method whereby the chance for the selection of each unit of the population to be known. Under this type of sampling method, everybody (unit) in the population has the chance of being selected. There is a chance mechanism that every element of the population is subjected to.
(1)   Non Probability Sampling
Non probability sampling does not allow the operation of chance mechanism. It does not adhere to mathematical guidelines. The main characteristic the differentiate probability sample from non probability sample is that while probability sample gives researcher chance to calculate the amount of sampling error, non-probability does not give room for that. This sampling technique is applicable when the sampling frame in a study is not specific.
There Are Different Types Of Probability Sampling Methods, These Are:
Simple random sampling, Systematic random sampling, Stratified sampling, Cluster sampling, and Multi-stage sampling
Simple Random Sampling
This is the type of sampling method that allows each unit in the universe or population to have equal chance of being selected. It is the most widely used probability sampling method. This is often employed when a small amount of sample is to be taken for research work. Random sampling uses the principle of randomisation which is simply a procedure of giving every unit or subject in a population an equal chance of appearing in selection.
Systematic Random Sampling
This sampling method is otherwise called sampling with a random start. It is arrived at this way. You arrange all the elements of a population and choose every Nth on from the serially listed population subject or units. Note that the N is any number usually determined by dividing the population by the required sample size Tejumaiye (2003:62).
Adamu-Iria (2006:134) stated that:
Systematic Random Sampling is the easiest-to-use method for approximating a random sample. This is a sample in which every Kth item in the sampling frame is selected after a random start among the first K elements.
For example, a researcher decides to study opinions of people expressed in Tell and Newswatch magazines between 2006 and 2010 on pages of editorial column (letter to the editor) on how to eradicate HIV/AIDS. The target population for this study consisted of all editions of Tell and Newswatch magazines from January 2012 to December 2016, both magazines publish weekly. Each magazine has 52 editions per a year. In five years a magazine publishes 260 editions.
Therefore, 520 editions of both magazines is the population of the study. Since it is not possible to study the entire editions of both magazines (population), a sample size of 130 is selected by systematic random sampling. The sample size selected is manageable and represents the entire population.
 Its major unit of analysis in content analysis remains to be written messages, radio, television programmes and other records (Daramola, 2011: 113). Ajala (2009:31) defined content analysis as a systematic, objective and quantitative procedure devised to examine the content of recorded information. Newspaper/magazines, oral messages, company publication as well as television radio programme and internet contents can be content analyzed.
Unlike experimentation, observation and survey which have animal or human behaviour as the focal point of study, content analysis focuses on the manifest content of communication (Sobowale, 2008: 18).  Analysing the manifest content of printed works and oral messages in magazines, newspapers, radio, television among others require thorough knowledge of the ways and manners of categorizing the messages and statistical calculations. It is very important to understand the population of the study which may be magazines, books, newspapers, leaflets, CD ROM for a particular message to be content analysed. In addition, sample of the edition of magazine or newspaper must be selected through simple random, systematic random or any of the sampling methods explained earlier so as to reduce the work load by the researcher. The next line of action is to determine the content category and unit of analysis.
Observation is a method of harnessing data which requires watching people’s activities or actions. It may be to find out how a group of people carries out certain activities and why they do it. This method is usually used in exploration and investigation of social challenges. Depending on the type of activity concerned, a researcher who intends to observe event may not wish to be noticeable or act in a manner that people around would suspect his mission. He may wish to be participant observer. This method was pioneered by anthropologists and ethnographers. This method entails researcher to live with the people, group or party he wish to study. That is he part take in every activity of the group. He may also decide not to participate actively and stay apart to watch the activities of the group under study and note the details. In this case, the researcher is conspicuous and does not mind if people around are conscious of his mission. This is known as non-participant observation (Raufu, 2014).
Patton (1990:203-5) quoted in Berger (2000:305), stated that observational data are attractive as they afford the researcher the opportunity to gather “live’’ data from “live’’ situations. The researcher is given the opportunity to look at what is taking place in situ rather than at second hand. This enables researchers to understand the context of programmes, to be open ended and inductive, to see things that might otherwise be unconsciously missed, to discover things that participants might not freely talk about in interview situations, to move beyond perception-based data (e.g. opinions in interviews) and to access personal knowledge. Because observed incidents are less predictable there is certain freshness to this form of data collection that is often denied in other forms e.g. questionnaire or a test.
As experimentation, observation can be discussed under two subheadings: participant and non-participant observation.
Participant Observation
When a member of Super Eagles carries out a study of his team without revealing his motive while doing that is refers to as participant observation. Participant observation is an intensive and more involved method of gathering data through observation. That is, a participant observer is a member of the group he is trying to observe. According to Sobowale (2008: 12), Participant observation is an intensive and more involved way of gathering information.
On the other hand it could be Non-participant Observation. Here the researcher observes from vantage position without participating in the activities of the subject of research.
 Focus group is a qualitative method of generating information about target audiences’ feelings, beliefs, attitude, perception and opinion about issues. It is a controlled group discussion where six to twelve (6-12) people with fairly analogous characteristics in term of age, sex, education, profession and others are interview simultaneously with a moderator leading the respondents in a relatively unstructured manner.
The moderator in a focus group mediates and directs the discussion from a list of broad questions and this enables participants to introduce new dimension to the topic under discussion. The moderator poses open ended questions while each member of the group contributes his or her responses, comments, feelings as well as reacts to other participants’ contributions, feelings or comments. The discussion session is recorded on video or audio tape. With this method, it is easy to follow-up on important points that participant raise in the course of discussion. The moderator has the opportunity of shedding light on and clearing up confusing responses from participants.
Interview is probably human’s oldest and most often used method of acquiring information. It is the method through which the interviewer poses questions to interviewee and records his/her responses. Both the interviewer and interviewee communicate with each other through verbal interaction and the non-verbal signs (gesture, body language, facial expressions).The non verbal signs add more meanings to verbal responses, therefore it is important that it is well monitored and adequately interpreted by interviewer. Interview can be conducted through face-to-face, mail, telephone, and through any of the current social medial such e-mail, as face book, twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn among others.
In every society, people are sources of information to reporter. Every interaction between reporter and his sources of information entails interview. Reporting is with gathering, editing and disseminating information to the public. Interview is an important tool employed by reporter to squeeze information from people before passing it on to the public. Okoye (1998:63) stated that interviewing is the act of taping other human sources for information which will be incorporated in the write up. Those usually interviewed by newsmen include key players in the news, victims, winners, losers, eye-witnesses, relatives, neighbours and associates of those involved.
The purpose of interview is to elicit as much as relevant information as regard opinions. It is a veritable way of gathering data of the people on issues. The method cut across both literate and illiterate members of the society. That is, both literate and illiterates can respond to face-to-face interview if well conducted in the language understood by the interviewee.
Vox pop is a useful source of news is a Vox pop. It is a means through which the opinion on issue(s) of public interest can be expressed. It is the ideas and opinions of ordinary people on a particular subject or burning issue of the day, collected by media reporters. VOX POP is a popular opinion on matter/topic/subject/issue of public interest as represented by informal comments from members of the public, especially when broadcast through radio, television, internet or published on the pages of newspapers/magazine/leaflets for the general public. It can be accomplished where journalists or special researchers go out into the street to ask members of the public for their views on matters of current public interest.
The Media Use Vox Pops for the Following:
1. To test public opinion and reaction
 2. To influence decision-makers
3. To stimulate public debate
4. To forecast results of events
5. To generate data for events/study
6. To promote media stations such as newspaper, radio or television station, blog, website and make it more popular.
Writing Research Report
Although given the task of writing an interesting story, the reporter must seek to humanise the story for spelling out to the readers /audience what the story means to them in clear and simple language. That is, simple form of common language of communication. The reporter must find out what the outcome of the survey mean or may mean eventually to the average persons and then provide the details that are necessary to give a layman a closer picture or clear understanding of the research.
A reporter may write an incomplete report if sources are unwilling to give out adequate information. In addition, researcher /writer should stay clear of the politics of a specific community in order not to be partial or partisan. In most cases, sources tend to conceal information from writer/researcher who that favours opposing camp/group. At times, announcement of result of study can be premature and create unjustified optimism in audience/readers. Writers must be careful not to over familiarise the importance of results of study they are reporting.
Once you have analysed the results of the survey, you must treat them like the raw materials for any news story. Pretend that you have just come across them for the first time; look at them; assess their news worth; decide on the most newsworthy angle and make that your introduction. Obviously the story must be presented to the audience as a normal news story, written in words. You cannot throw a mountain of statistics at them and expect them to decipher and understand. However, researcher has presented the most interesting information in a well-written news story format; he can give detailed information in tabular format to the end. The readers who are particularly interested can do some of their own interpretation and analysis from his statistics.

Research in Public Relations is not a separate subject; it is the very essence of successful public relations activity, since it collates the past and present experience of all concerned (Black, 2011). In Nigeria, Public Relations has become a strategic management function. Many Nigerian organizations either have full public relations departments or retain the services of PR consultants. PR is now acknowledged as a major tool in achieving social, economic and political goals and objective of organization and individuals (Onabajo, 2002). The nature of Public Relations practice dictates that any practitioner who is really worth his ‘claim’ should base his activities on sound research. Anything short of this will deprive the practitioner his rightful position as the ‘eyes’ and ‘ears’ of the organisation (Raufu, 2014).
Public relations is essentially an art of persuasion, and in order to influence people it is obviously helpful to know as much as possible about the way in which people think and the manner in which they react to particular circumstances (Black, 2011). Black stated that experience and intuition will provide an answer to the way in which people think and the manner in which they react to particular circumstances, but where it is desirable to obtain more factual or statistical data, it is necessary to employ the techniques of motivation research, opinion research and market research which have been evolved to provide the answers to problems of this kind. It becomes imperative therefore to examine the relevance of research to the practice of Public Relations. 
As stated earlier, Raufu agreed that research is a phenomenon that cuts across all the stages in Public Relations programme planning such as Research for Problem Identification and Analysis; Research for planning; Research for Communication; Research for Monitoring; and Research for evaluation.

One very great and valuable asset to any progressive organisation is Objective Communicator because often, he based his actions and recommendations on objective research. Ironically, he is often seen as threat by some members of the Organisation because the objective communicator is ever ready to draw attention to existing or potential problems as a result of the fact that he is armed with information obtained through research. Since Public Relations thrive on truth, knowledge and full information, public relations planning have always been successfully executed where and when problem identification and analysis has been properly done as a starting point for solving organisational problems. A problem identified is a problem half solved.

Problem identified involves probing deeply to elicit the opinions, attitude and reactions of all stakeholders and or people concerned with acts and policies of the organisation; this covers both internal and external publics.

Raufu (2014) stated that problems identification starts with the following:
·         Asking questions from internal publics, especially employees, with sincerity and taking their responses in good faith because they know the institution better than anyone else.
·         Listening to voices of dissent within the organisation is a very important means of getting goods clues to areas of weakness of the organisation. Never treat these people with disdain.
·         Playing “the devil’s advocate” by asking hard questions about proposed actions in anticipation of possible reactions from various publics.
·         Embarking on Communication Audit (Internal and External) as part of normal monitoring.
·         Prelude before major changes are anticipated to serve as benchmark for measuring internal and external attitude in the future.
·         Anticipating and or confronting crises. The PRE has two alternative here:
(i)   To anticipate crisis as a means of problems identification
(ii)  To identify and confront crisis that has already reared its head.

Having identified the problem the next line of action for a Public Relations Executive (PRE) is to dissect the problem so that he can get to the root of the problem.  Problem analysis involves step-by-step process which includes:
·               State what has happened in clear, unambiguous and declarative sentences.
·               Unearth the cause(s) through formal/informal research.
·               After identification, state the cause(s) in clear, simple sentence(s).
·               State the desirable outcome or what specifically you want the outcome to be” in a simple, clear sentence.
·               Set other possible outcomes and goals.
·               Project ahead and set possible consequences
·               Examine pros and cons of the possible consequences.
The next stage is planning because once all the above steps have been carefully taken, it becomes easy to draw lines towards solving the problem.

 This state is very important in PR programming because it serves as the basis for eventual implementation of PR program.
Planning requires:
·         A searching look backward to determine all the factors which led to the situation under study.
·         A deep look inside in which assembled facts and opinions are considered in the light of the organisation’s objectives and their (facts and opinions) validity weighed.
·         A wide look around in which there is study of similar situations in similar organisations including political, social and economic trends, and the mood of the time.
·         A long look ahead in which goals for organisation and for implementing the programme are set.
Planning is predicated on adequate knowledge of the issue/problem; the organisation’s goals and objectives, the nature of the organisation’s publics and how the publics view the organisation. Research is required to facilitate this understanding, so that ultimately the right audience gets the right message at the right time.
Issue forecasting is an important trend in PR planning. Issue forecasting centres on the premise that an organisation takes a look into the future to predict how its public might react to “a future event, trend or controversy” using available (collected) data as criterion for assessment.  The purpose of issue forecasting is to prepare the organisation pro-active or preventive PR against eventualities and prevent crisis. Issue forecasting is essentially the research portion of Issue Management and Environment Scanning.  To establish a sound issue-management system, research is very essential.

Kerry Tucker and Bill Trumptheler (1993) cited in (Raufu, 2014) suggested a five step plan to establish a sound issue-management system.

(i)         Anticipate issues and establish priorities by asking the following questions – What changes do we foresee in economics, government and politics, social trends; technology? Where and what are the likely competition.
(ii)        As soon as priorities are set, analyse issues by developing a formal situational analysis or issue brief.
(iii)       Recommendation position(s) for the organisation on issues.
(iv)       Identify publics, to identify specifically those opinion leaders who can advance your course and position.
(v)        Identify desired behaviour/attitudes of the publics and opinion leaders.

Having identified the problem and its cause and/or forecast possible issue, the next thing is to learn about the publics involved. There arises the need therefore, to explore such areas as:
·         Profile of the public
·         Location of the public
·         How each public is affected by the issue.
·         The socio-economic status of the publics to determine.
·         The dynamics of the publics – How do they act collectively.
·         Areas that present points of conflict of the Interest among divergent publics. This is important because each public may react in different way to the same issue.

It is important that the right programme is planned for the right public at the right time if there must be success.  The public is very important and every public is invaluable therefore, public relations officer should never overlook any public.

The PR executive must know his various publics just as he must appreciate their importance in the existence of his organisation, and he has to explore them to succeed. In exploring these publics, two tasks are involved for the PRE. The tasks are:
(i)         Prioritizing the publics by issues
(ii)        Interpreting their behaviours

(i)         Prioritizing the Public by issues

It is not all the publics that are most important in every planning situation.  Therefore the PRE must identify and decide which the major publics are and which are the minor in every planning situation.

Each issue must affect some publics more than others, as such the publics affected most by a particular issue must be on a top of the priority list while others become minor.  This priority list is however not static because when another issue generates, the need has automatically arisen for a revision and general re-ordering of the publics according to their importance as far as the new issue is concerned. Public relations practitioner must never offend any of your publics because that public is not on top of priority list currently.
Prioritizing the publics by issues is all about “deciding which public has to be appealed to most effective and figuring out how to do that while offending the other least”.
The PRE must be very sensitive about “what these publics know and what they think they know”.

Research helps the PRE in finding:
·         How much of real facts a public has?
·         What rumours the public has embraced?
·         What myths it holds?
·         How the public is likely to think
·         What the public might do etc.
·         The dynamics of the publics.

Different approaches have been used and are still being used by various organizations’ PR department to get answer to the above questions. They include:
·         Survey – to measure public dynamic on issue and problem
·         CEO – Employees conference / dialogue
·         Manager – Employees dialogue
·         Exco/Management – Employee one-on-one meetings
·         Management – Consumer interactions
·         Manager – Group (Employees) problems review meeting
·         Management – Suppliers interaction.
·         Upward Communication between actual workers and management to effect necessary changes in existing set-up etc.

This variable explains that a person seeks information if he is involved in a situation. On the other hand he only processes the information if he is not involved. These four variables are important in determining the extent to which an organisation can go in preparing information for any particular pubic. Whether a public is information seeking or information processing will guide the PRE in determining how to invest in preparing PR media.  PRE media includes publications; brochures, films, magazines, exhibitions, internal TV etc. Research is conducted to determine all of these variables to be able to effectively plan and executive Public Relations programme.


A common mistake in discussing Public Relations is to assume that PR is the same thing as publicity.  This explains why many an organisation would assume that a successful journalist would function effectively well as Public Relations Executive. No doubt publicity is important in Public Relations but its value could be lost if proper research is not conducted to determine its effective and efficient use.

Publicity is merely the “exposure aspect of the concept communication in PR whereas communication is the umbrella. Communication is so invaluable in Public Relations programming that a slight misuse of it could wreak irreparable damage on the Public Relations programme and in fact, the image of the Organisation. To ensure a successful professional planning and use communication, there is a need for thorough research.

According to Raufu (2014), Public Relations Research for communication must focus on such issues as:
·         The communicator
·         The message
·         The audience and
·         Planning media use.

Using appropriate communicator is important. As such, research is necessary to isolate such factors as: Competence of the person to discuss the issue "Acceptability in terms of association with or membership of the group or audience, etc. This is an important factor in determining the success of any programme.  Research in communication has indicated that lack of credibility on the part of the communicator often lessens the probability of favourable change.

This is contingent on the nature of the problem and the nature of the audience.  The important thing however is that facts must be dug on which to base the messages.  Examples must also be isolated and used as back up for the available facts.

Message development is easy when there is a clear understanding of:
-     the details about the issue
-     the nature and structure of the public
-     the nature of the audience
-     the objective of the campaign etc

This re-requisite understanding is provided by fact finding/research.

The audience must be understood clearly so that it could be planned for, effectively:
·               What is the audience are of interest?
·               What constitutes the area of conflict of interest?
·               What do they know?
·               What are their beliefs?
·               How emotionally attached are they to the issue?
·               How committed are they to the opinion they are currently holding?
·               What other multi-various external influences are they subjected to?
·               What is at stake for the audience?
·               What rewards are in for the audience? Etc
These are necessary questions which must be answered if the audience must be influenced in any way, objective and sincere answers are required to enable the PRE do thorough and successful job. Research provides the viable alternative to finding answers’ to these questions.  It is only when this has been done that action can be taken towards media planning.

Different publics use different media.  Therefore, the PRE must plan his media in accordance with the nature and structure of his public and audience. At this stage, fact-finding is necessary to:
·               Know how people use media
·               Know media people use generally
·               Know who are the users of what media
·               Identify media channels used by the target publics then
·               Pre-test the messages so as to determine if they would be understood by the publics when the communication is fully launched.
·               Know the frequency and coverage of the channel/media, etc.

Fact-finding about media characteristics as itemised above could be sourced from reference publications e.g. Rate and Data cards. ABC i.e. Audit Bureau of Circulation is another viable source.  Some media also make available reports of researches they had conducted in such areas as stated above.  These may be used by PRES in taking their decisions.


This involves keeping up with events to ensure success.  Monitoring is meant to avert possible problems; to checkmate unforeseen threats as well as provide alternatives in the fact of mistakes and in some cases to manage sabotage from competitors. Monitoring is a fact-finding process that must be built into planning Public Relations programmes. It involves constant and specific check on results that ensures the campaign is monitored as it is being carried out.  Monitoring provides opportunity for instant feedback(s) in the course of the programme.

Whereas evaluative research is performed at the conclusion of a campaign to determine its degree of success, monitoring is an on-going exercise that often reveals specific problem areas before they snowball into crises.  Therefore, monitoring stage is NOT evaluation stage in PR planning.
The Focuses of Research for Monitoring include:  
·               Monitoring media use of your news release i.e. Reading newspapers/magazines to determine whether a news release was published and on what page.  Finding out whether the community people are aware of and benefiting from a CSR programme being put in place for them as part of your PR programme.
·               Listening to/watching the broadcast stations for news items that need be included in the days of news packages and the time of use.
·               Establishing the numbers of those who responded to the message
·               Finding out whether a public’s behaviour is being changed.
·               Monitoring your opponent’s moves (especially his media use) to determine how they affect your programme and how to re-adjust your programme.
·               Checking and ensuring that billboards are placed in the right place(s) at the right time etc.
·               Establishing the circulation, reach an audience size.
·               Environmental monitoring to know when your organisation’s activities constitute nuisance to the public e.g. through environmental pollutions damaging or blocking of community roads, depositing of toxic wastes etc.


It is necessary to re-state that this final stage in PR planning; and it can also serve as the beginning of a new and another research process.  Its purpose is to provide an estimate of objective achievement and indicate where and how subject may persist. In other words evaluation is used to assess whether and by how much each goal of any PR programme is achieved.
Research for evaluation is conducted to measure such results as:
·               Behavioural shift
·               Perception shift
·               Other effects of PR efforts on Organisation’s publics particularly the most important public.
·               Level of accomplishment of campaign objective;
·               How the accomplishment of certain goals has modified or changed the management’s overall objective;
·               Identify success or failure of the executed programme in reaching the planned point.

Often evaluation leads logically to the development of a new planning programme as it reveals, most of the time, new problems and or other unexplored areas such require situation analysis.  At this point a new cycle of PR programme planning activities begins.  Public Relations research is an on-going exercise. According to Black (2011: 124), this means a series of surveys may be monthly, quarterly or every 6 months, to record trends. He added that this can be plotted on a graph to show how the situation was changing.


For whichever stage of PR planning a research is conducted, it must endeavour to follow standard procedural course. Incidentally PR is not the only profession restricted to the use of this formal procedure. Because PR is a social science which seeks to evaluate and analyse people’s attitude in line with trends of activities, it follows that it must attempt to a scientific method of discovering and analysing facts, a situation peculiar to all science and social science activities. However, informal and exploratory methods are still used in PR research.  This suggests that PR research could be either formal or informal or both, depending on the nature of the problem.

These do not follow the formal systematic, approaches to finding answers to research questions.  The informal research takes a course of investigation different from the scientific method to explore cause and effects of issues and problems. Kerlinger (1973) identifies four methods of finding answers to research questions as: Tenacity, Intuition, Authority and Science and Wimmer and Dominick (1987:364) distinguished “science” as the formal method, thus leaving the other as the informal methods.

Tenacity: Presupposes that something is true because it has always been true.  The bottom-line of this approach is that “nothing changes”.
Intuition: also known as apriori proposition, the approach is predicated on the assumption that something is true because it is “self-evident” or “stands to reason”.
Authority: This approach emphasises the source of information and not the method that source adopted to get the information.  Here, the belief is held because a trusted source said it e.g. the father, the Teacher or even Holy books such as Bible and Quran.  For example, the belief that some people will go to heaven or hell is based on the method of authority traceable to the holy books.
Informal methods can still be very useful in PR research but it is important that the PRE who wishes to adopt them should appreciate and be mindful of their deficiencies.  One of such deficiencies is that the representativeness of the samples in informal research is often questionable.
In Public Relations, the following are the commonly used informal methods, say Dominick and Wimmer (1987) cited in (Raufu, 2014). 
·               Personal contacts
·               Expert opinion
·               Community forum
·               Management/Employees Forum
·               Examination of media contents
·               Mall analysis
·               Phone-in calls etc.

This approach is called formal because it takes a formal course of pursuing issues thereby consequently providing objective and systematic information from representative samples. It is a scientific method because it “approaches learning as a series of small steps” where one study or step or source “provides only an indication of what may or may not be true. The truth is thus found in the accumulation and objective analyses of series of findings.  In the process, errors can be detected and corrected as may be necessary which means that scientific method is self-correcting (Raufu, 2014).

Here is an example, early researchers concluded that the media were all powerful in their effects on the audience which gave birth to the “Hypodermic Needle Theory” but subsequent research studies debunked the thrust of this model when it was discovered that many factors and variables would determine what the people would do with media messages.  These researches led to the emergence of such theories as Individual Differences Theory, Social Category Theory, Social Relations Theory etc., all of which attempted to correct the position of the Hypodermic Needle Theory.  That is the nature of Scientific Approach.

Certain features distinguish Formal/Scientific research from Informal research. These include the facts that:
·               Science is systematic and cumulative
·               It is objective
·               It is predictive
·               It is empirical
·               Science is public

In view of these features, it becomes mandatory that a standard set of steps must be followed in conducting a formal/scientific investigation.  According to Black (2011) and Raufu (2014), the steps for PR is as stated below.
1.         Statement of the problem
2.         Selection of a manageable (and measurable) portion of the problem
3.         Establishing of definitions to be used in the measurement
4.         Literature review i.e. a search, in published literature, for studies that are similar in subject or research approach
 5.        Developing a statement of hypothesis
6.         Design Experiments (Define the universe or population to be studied; choose sampling method, choose sample).
7.         Data Collection
8.         Data Analysis
9.         Interpretation of data. Here, inferences are drawn and generalization made.
10.       Communicate result.

The next step in PR, which is not included in normal research, is Evaluation.  This helps to know how the campaign has fared in terms of success and failure.  It also helps to expose the unexplored areas which are later explored using another cycle of research. There are two types of formal research: Qualitative and Quantitative Researches.  The two follow the same steps and they both can be conducted either in the laboratory or in the field.

This research types is primarily based on description.  It does not make use of statistics and numbers but takes adequate care of the human angle of the story.
Qualitative research involves the use of the following techniques: Historiography, In-depth Interviews and Focus group.
(i)         Historiography, Case Studies and Diaries: Whereas case studies make use of available factual data to examine issues, events etc. Systematically, especially in Organisations, Diaries consist of detailed reports of personal experiences and actions which are used in field studies.  Historiography on the other hand involves collation of data from primary and secondary sources, and organising such data to form a background for writing Historical Narratives and Biographies.
(ii)        In-depth Interviews: In-depth interviews are conducted on specifically chosen audience who have been selected and encouraged to talk freely and fully on the subject. The technique is often used in motivational research which “requires highly trained interviews and skilled analysts”.  Questions to be asked are pre-tested and must be posed to all respondents. In-depth interviews often make use of open-ended questions because “they give up interviewer the opportunity to follow-up with more probing questions”.

(iii)       Focus Group: Involves the interviewing of representatives of one specific group or alternatively one representative from each of a number of different publics.  The group must converse very freely.

There is usually a moderator who must be a skilful interviewer, with responsibility to keep the conversation going while he serves as the referee. The researcher records the session on video tapes so that the interview can be used later as a prelude to develop questionnaire. The focus group results should not be used to make final judgement, rather is should be used as a preliminary or guidance technique. Often focus group interviews are subjected to content analysis which ironically is a form of Quantitative research.


Quantitative research is based on measurement especially by counting.  This method offers a very high degree of predictability as it is easier to generalize from results of quantitative research to make predictions about the larger population from which the sample was drawn.

Because many people are afraid of statistics they tend to avoid these techniques giving the impression that they are only suspicious of statistics because it neglects “human side of the story”.
 Quantitative measures cover the following techniques: Content Analysis; Survey based on descriptive and Inferential Statistics

1.         Content Analysis
This technique relies solely on reports, transcripts and or other contents of discussions, interactions, media etc,

Bernard Berelson gave a lucid description of content analysis when he summarized it as a research technique for the “objective, systematic and quantitative description of the manifest content of communication”.

Content analysis is the systematic coding and classification of written or recorded materials for the purpose of generating results and judgement on issues and problems. Broadcast media transcripts, newspapers and magazine clippings, periodicals content can be subjected to content analysis. Also, in-depth interviews, focus group interview as w ell as transcripts of panel discussions can also be content-analysed.

It can be used by PR Executive for the systematic coding and classification of written and broadcast materials that relate to his organisation.  This way, the Executive can have the knowledge of the kind of information that his various publics are being exposed to.

2.         SURVEY
This is a quantitative research method that measures opinions, positions, preferences or practices of a specified public with the use of tables.  Here, responses of the public are tabulated to a standardized series of questions to assess the public’s actions and opinions.

There are two types of survey
(i)         Descriptive Survey which attempts to describe what exists at the moment by documenting “current conditions or attitudes”.
 (ii)       Analytically Survey which attempts to explain why certain situations exist.

Survey makes use of two types of statistics-Descriptive and inferential.  While Descriptive statistics is about data in manageable ways, inferential statistics allows the researcher to use what he had found on the sample to draw generalizable conclusions about the population.

Surveys can be used in all areas of life covering science, business, politics etc., for a PR practitioner to survey is invaluable instrument of conducting investigation.  That is why the PR Executive must have a clear grasp of the essentials of this quantitative research method.

These essentials include sampling and stating research questions.

A sample is a subset of the population taken to be representative of the entire population.  The process of drawing this sample is known as sampling. Sampling is either probability or non-probability in nature.

Probability is derived from selection “according to mathematical guidelines whereby the chance for selection of each unit is known”.  On the other hand, non-probability sampling does not observe the rule of following guidelines of “mathematical probability”.

Non-probability Sampling
Because not all samples are chose randomly, non-probability sampling can be useful even in PR research.  Branches of non-probability sampling according to Adamu-Iria (2006) are Accidental Sampling, Purposive Sampling and Quota Sampling and Volunteer sample. The first three major types of non-probability sampling can be useful for a PRE who wishes to conduct research provided any of them is appropriate for the work he intends to do (Raufu, 2014).

Probability Sampling
This method is based on probability that a sample will accurately represent a particular population. Respondents are selected for sample randomly.  This makes random sampling the most basic type of probability sampling.

The probability sampling, every unit in the population has equal chance of being selected.

Other types of probability sampling are Systematic Sampling; Stratified Sampling; Cluster Sampling. They all can be useful for the PRE depending on the nature of the research and the public involved.

Finally, it must be noted that Cross-Section Survey and panels are the most viable processes for gather data by sampling method while Questionnaire constitutes the best and most used instrument.

Raufu stated that research questions are asked about issues that have not been deeply examined. The difference between the two research question and Hypothesis is that whereas research question is interested in getting answers to questions, hypothesis attempts to make a prediction which states the researcher’s assumption of what or what could be.  When the assumption is reversed however, to what is not or what could not be” the result is called Null Hypothesis. Both Research Questions and Hypotheses are very good instruments of survey method of research and a clear understanding of their uses is required of a Public Relations Executive.

The use of observation method in Journalism is still the same in Public Relations as stated earlier in this work. This is a field research used for collecting data and generating hypotheses and theories.  Observation specialises in description and explanation. Two basic types are discernible:

It could be Participant Observation in which the researcher actively participates in the activities involved thus exposing himself to much details of the activities of the group in which he is presently interested.

On the other hand it could be Non-participant Observation. Here the researcher observes from vantage position without participating in the activities of the subject of research. This is viable research method for Public Relations Executive and could be used if and where it provides a good alternative for conducting investigations.

Analyze Results
Communication Researcher needs to determine what he wanted to learn from the study. He has the chance to look through the diaries/logs to answer these questions. Diaries generally contain qualitative information (e.g., how food choices were made that day, evaluation of programs completed). Activity logs may contain several types of information—quantitative information you can tabulate easily (e.g., how many people called a hotline each day, whether people picked up a brochure) as well as qualitative information (e.g., reasons that students liked or participated in an activity).
Analyzing Qualitative Responses
The best way to analyze qualitative information is to read through the information, searching for similarities and differences between diaries. He needs to consider all of the questions that he determined were important in the planning phase. Once you have reviewed several diaries, you should be able to pull out general themes or patterns from the information. The best way to analyze these themes is to develop categories for the responses.
Analyzing Quantitative Responses
 The easiest way to analyze these types of responses is to create a coding sheet for each quantitative question. Use a separate sheet for each question, writing the question at the top and creating columns for each possible response.

Computer is an electronic device that that can be used to perform virtually all human activities. Computer technology has undergone a significant change over the period of last five decades. The present day microcomputer is far more powerful and cost effective compared to the world’s first computers. Computer and internet are very useful in communication research. The use of internet for any kind of media or communication research can reduce the time, stress, cost, labour involved in it. Utilizing this new media can lead to quality researches.
 Computers can perform calculations in just a few seconds for which human beings would need a few days to do by hand. It can store a lot of data and programmes in a computer storage device. Its accuracy is consistently high. In a research process, today, researchers find it difficult to analyse quantitative data without the use of computer. In the information gathering stage, with computer, it is possible to collect thousands of pages from digital libraries to internet. The internet has had a dramatic affect on the way people communicate and disseminate information. It has also affected the mass media research. Rogers (1986) cited in Bob and Sooknanan (2014) claimed that the microcomputer is one of the most important innovations of recent decades in terms of its impact in homes, schools and businesses. The Internet, in particular, was the catalyst that catapulted the computer into a global phenomenon.
Internet has created new method for gathering the data in mass media research. It changed the way researchers search for and disseminate information. According to Sobowale (2014: 35), internet is a useful tool in the hands of social scientists. It simplified collaboration and interaction among researchers. Internet based research is now popular for the all categories of research. The following are the main advantages and disadvantages given by Wimmer and Dominic in their book. Internet surveys are easy to conduct. It is flexible in the sense that questionnaire can be changed almost immediately if a change is required. To collect and analyse the data it is the most cost effective method. Respondents can proceed at their own speed and can read questions several times, if necessary. The turnaround of results is very quick. Conducting research through the internet can makes questionnaires to be interactive. The internet allows access to all types of people. It requires researcher to draw up his questionnaire and send it to the email addresses of those he wants to answer his questions. Research projects can be replicated frequently if necessary.
Although internet research has become more popular and has advantages, there is the need to consider its disadvantages in research. In term of control over the research situation, researcher does not know who answers an internet questionnaire. It is difficult to determine that the internet sample represents the total universe or population or not. Many internet users are concerned with security and refuse to participate in any type of internet research project.
Akpan-Iquot in Etukudo (1986) stated that media stand for the tools or channels of communication. There are different types of media such as traditional forms, print, electronic etc. The main purpose of this media is to provide education information and entertainment to the target audience. To know the likings and disliking, needs and requirements of the target audience research is of much importance for media of mass communication. Except the public sector media, it is obvious that almost all other media organizations are owned by private organization and profit making is the guiding principle of the private media organizations. For offering different media content to a heterogeneous audience, the media organizations always lay their stress on innovative ideas and improvised ways for providing better programme presentation that requires research. From determining the topics and issues for reporting in the print media, selection of scoops from the electronic news gathering, treatment of the stories of a film, use of public relations tools, preparation and campaigning of an advertisement, markets survey etc. in all the fields of mass communication, communication research plays a significant role.
Akpan posited that a democratic government cannot take any decision in a large scale or formulate policies and programmes without conducting a research because the result of the policies may affect the people. Likewise, as it is popularly known as the fourth pillar of democracy, media cannot bring the attention of an audience to a specific issue without conducting a research among the target audience. For an investigative report a reporter must pursue a research on the issue. For development journalism also the media organizations must conduct some research. The relationship between public opinion and mass media on the one hand and the democratic Government on the other should be such that the unrepresented and underrepresented people or issues can be brought to the attention of the government or of the society to that they can be addressed properly.
He explained that along with the practical aspects of the role of communication research on mass media, the theoretical aspect is also equally important. Media theory involves generalizing about the relationship between people or the society and the media. Different types of media theories and research models have been evolved from time to time. There is a media theory which is known as cultivation theory and it was developed by George Gerbner. It states that heavy television viewing influences people to adopt values, role and world views that are based on television content they watch. The media managers use research to understand what their audiences want. To decide to change their advertisers and to develop news and information Harold Lasswell’s magic bullet theory has led to the conclusion that media has universal and powerful effects.
Akpan pointed out from the limited effects research, Carl Hoveland and his colleagues found evidence for a limited effect model at the beginning of the Second World War. According to them, media effect is specific and limited. Pluralism was a concept ushered in by the works of Charles Horton Cooley, John Dewey and Robert E. Park. It espoused the coexistence and cooperation among the different elements of a power structure. They believed that a modern media could make possible a truly democratic community. Moderate effects research started in US in 1970’s wherein it was found that media content had a greater impact on people’s behaviour than limited effects studies suggested, but the impact was not as great as was found by the powerful effects researchers.

The development of research is growing at a very slow pace in Nigeria. Many public and private organisations do not have a research or development department. While other research areas are at low ebb, opinion research on public issues in Nigeria is just at the starting point. According to Black (2011), when opinion research is mentioned it includes: national and local opinion surveys and polls, media studies, readership studies, employees and customers attitude surveys and inventor relationship studies. Akpan-Iquot (1986) stated the following problems of Social Research in Nigeria:
If our research into the audience must be systematic, objective, and replicable and randomized, there should be a measurable audience. There is the need to have measured audiences in universities, the polytechnics, armed forces barracks and post primary institutions where readers can be randomly sampled.
These groups of people alone do not form the bulk of our society. The society has, among others, drivers, carpenters, traders, painters, hoteliers, clerks, tailors, welders, contractors to name a few. These people cannot be reached because; most of them do not have permanent addresses. Those who do may not be traced because the city is not planned. There are no sufficient telephones and reliable directories as well as city directories for everyone. Hence, it is difficult to have a measurable audience.
A good researcher uses all segments of the society. Where a recipient of a questionnaire is an illiterate, one cannot confidently rely on the findings based on right thumb print. If the recipient is kind and honest enough to call a neighbour to help complete a questionnaire, the recipient is not sure that his responses are exactly what he intended to give. In addition, when wrong and unreliable samples are used in research, the result cannot be reliable. The following example indicated use of unreliable samples in research:
As stated earlier in this work Journalism research can be carried out in virtually every aspect of mass communications business. Since the return of power to a democratically elected government in 1999, one can hardly locate up to a dozen studies completed to determine the popularity or the performance of various government programmes.
Nigerian politicians need information as to their performance in the different legislatures; editors need to know what type of people read their papers and for what reasons. Besides, editors would like to know how they are performing; whether they need to improve upon their work and what should be done about layout and typography. As our cities are growing and becoming more complex, they are becoming more difficult for editor to have a personal contact with his readers, the same can be said of broadcasters, photographers or the television personalities.
Another problem of research in our society is that of inadequate or lack of record of activities. For several weeks, certain students on a study tried to speak to the management of some cinema houses in Calabar, Cross River State. After a lot of run-around, the students were told that there were no weekly, monthly or yearly records of attendance-hence, no way to determine what the trend in movie house attendance has been. The cinema houses are by no means the only offices with no records. In the Cross River State library, for instance, some books have been missing for months. There are no records on who is reading what and why.
A recent research on employment ratio of male and female staff in Nigerian higher institutions was delayed for months as a result of inadequate records in those institutions. It took Lagos state polytechnic and Yaba College of Technology months to produce sketchy records of their staff according to gender.
In a country of high rate of illiteracy and high degree of ethnic loyalty, a researcher is bound to run into obstacles if questionnaires are feared to have come from a potential “enemy camp”. Admittedly, this statement is based on observation rather than research. But all that interests a scholar is not who is winning against whom. Rather, the researcher is interested in relationships in order to predict future trends.
Research work is usually expensive-even after the funds have been made available; there is no guarantee that the findings will be altogether pleasant to the sponsors. Researchers in mass communications are going to need support. The support must come from the federal and state governments to institutions of higher learning. Philanthropic organisations, business establishments, religious organisations are also required to contribute to encouraging researches in the field of mass communications.
Social research involves a huge amount of money; therefore, inadequacy of funds to bankroll social research project is another bane militating against the progress of research in our environment. Ignorant n of the role or little or lack of appreciation of the role of social research in nation building is another major block in the road to stardom in social research. In addition, over confidence and complacency of do or die politicians with the exploitation of the general masses through rigging of elections at every level in concomitant with little or absence of opposition is a crucial factor responsible for lack of attention to opinion research by the sitting government or politicians (Tejumaiye, 2003).
Tejumaiye stated further that since the inception of tertiary education in Nigeria, opinion research as an academic discipline has just begun in social sciences faculties of different institutions. The results of social research are very tentative and as a result it is not easy to convince users of such research results to invest their money on an exercise which may not yield fruit immediately.
Tejumaiye added that long years of military rule between 1966 to 1979 and 1984 to 1999, penchant for foreign products and programmes are the major reasons accounted for little or lack of interest in opinion research. The Nigerian military rule the country without regard for peoples’ opinion. Opinion of the public did not matter to them. They rolled out Draconian decree to deal with social issues and this resulted in maladministration from one military regime to the other.
Social scientists normally faced some challenges regarding analysis and presentation of qualitative results arising from interpretative methods, such as in-depth interviews, participant observation and group discussions. Diverse strategies, such as case studies and the presentation of verbatim reports, are regularly utilised to convey results. These have the merit of highlighting the significant themes and patterns identified and set by the researcher(s).

The objective of this study was to point out different methods of carrying out journalism and public opinion research. If there is going to be some beginning, it must be now. There is no need to wait to have 99 per cent of literacy before embarking on research studies or wait to line our pockets with money or wait to have totally planned cities before launching research work. As much as we may not be able to carry out a highly representative study, research can start with on-the-spot interviews.
Research can start with what Kurt and Gladys Lang call “fire-house research” in the field of communications. In this type of study, volunteers are selected and sent to the scene of an event. The interview can be pre or post-event. The microscopic examinations of the impact of the event on the citizens can assure the public that media practitioners can do more than just reporting events. Another kind of research that can be conducted at present is readership studies. Although the first set of respondents would be frightened, a re-assurance would be enough to encourage them to return to questionnaire Akpan-Iquot in Etukudo (1986).
The complicated studies, such as experimental, two-step linkage, what have you been thinking, studio laboratory observation or minute-by-minute push-the-button-response can be practiced on our colleges and universities. In order to produce a high level of reliability, applicability and validity, the communications researchers of the future must maintain a non-questionable, unbiased, scientific and representative research finding. The media practitioner in Nigeria who is interested in research will definitely experience problems. But all human endeavours are fraught with challenges. The future has prospects for those who will venture.
Public Relations Programme Planning requires a lot of research at every stage. Research facilitates the PRE’s plans as it provides a clear vision for and understanding of the where to focus all his activities. Public Relations research is used as a means of surveillance to identify PR problems; to plan to proffer solutions to such problems, to communicate the solutions and other planned programmes, and finally to evaluate the success or otherwise of the executed programme. It is also used to secure management support for PR activities, functions and policies.
Wimmer and Dominick (1987:363) noted that the most common use of research in Public Relations is to gather data or audience attitude and opinions. Such survey are often conducted before, during and after a Public Relations campaign, (adding however that) Public Relations research is often conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of a planned communication programme.
Dominick and Wimmer citing Cutlip, Centre and Broom (1985) in Raufu (2014) noted that “informal and exploratory methods are still widely used in Public Relations research despite the availability of highly developed social science methods”.

These methods can still be very useful but is essential that the PRE who wishes to use them, “recognise and appreciate” their weaknesses, most important of which is the questionability of the representatives of the samples.

Cutlip Centre and Broom cited in (Raufu, 2014) went further to enumerate five Public Relations research categories as:
·               Environmental Monitoring Programmes
·               Public Relations Audit
·               Communication Audit
·               Social Audit and
·               Evaluation Research

Crediting the first four PR research types of Lerbinger (1977), Dominick and Wimmer explain the points as follows:
·               Environmental Monitoring Programme is very suitable for monitoring trends, public opinions and other social events that may supply information upon which they success, failure, effectiveness or ineffectiveness of a recently concluded community relations programme can be measured.  It is the act of keeping on ear to the ground and borrowing the eagle eye.
·               Public Relations Audit: This is an attempt to consider comprehensive list of all the segments that are important to a just-concluded campaign with a view to having personal interview with key personalities amongst them.  Those interviewed must be people that could supply unguarded or untailored information that the researcher can process to test the extent of success or failure recorded, if any, with regards to any given communication programme.
·               Communication Audit involves taking intensive and extensive look at the internal and external means of communication that the organisation used with a view to ascertaining their effectiveness or otherwise. 
Whereas Social Audit is a microcosm of environmental monitoring programmes Evaluation Research attempts to do overall appraisal of the entire programme to be able to measure the level of success or otherwise.

Analysis of the news contents, editorial comments, features and opinion articles of the local newspapers should be carefully and thoroughly done.  So also should efforts be made to monitor programme contents and comments in the electronic media.  Not only should organisations take broadcasters’ comments about its products or services with seriousness, the managers should be smart enough to note that such comments would represent the views and opinions of thousands of people and can even help to mould or re-mould their thinking and perception about the firm thereby helping to reposition it appropriately. 

While methods may be classified as quantitative or qualitative, most methods contain elements of both. For example, qualitative data analysis often involves a fairly structured approach to coding the raw data into systematic information, and quantifying intercoder reliability. Thus, there is often a more complex relationship between "qualitative" and "quantitative" approaches than would be suggested by drawing a simple distinction between them.
Social scientists employ a range of methods in order to analyse a vast breadth of social phenomena. Research can be conducted using surveys, reports, observation, questionnaire, focus groups, historical accounts, personal diaries and census statistics. There are two types of research: qualitative research and quantitative research. Qualitative research is inductive, meaning the researcher creates hypotheses and abstractions from collected data. Most data is collected via words or pictures and mostly from people. Researchers are interested in how people make sense of their lives and in the research process itself. Quantitative research is the complete opposite and most often involves numbers and set data. Quantitative data is efficient but focuses only on the end result, not the process itself, as qualitative research does.

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