Interviews and Focus Groups in Advertising, Public relations and Media

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1 1 Your topic: an essay about interviews and focus groups which has to be from the point of view of my course specialism which is ADVERTISING PUBLIC RELATIONS AND MEDIA! Your desired style of citation: Harvard Referencing Referencing Style: Harvard Referencing Number of page: 6 Words: 1500

2 2 [Writer Name] [Institute Name]

3 3 Introduction The inquiry into any public relations or marketing communications depends upon the implicit understanding of the researcher about of the world as well as ways to study communications. Thus the ideological perspective or philosophical position of the research is usually based on a specific research paradigm. The paradigm has basic assumptions that shape ways to research communication in best way possible. There are different and competing research paradigms based on the nature of the social world, including communication and researchers in past and today have never agreed upon one specific paradigm that is most suitable among all. Therefore, the categorisation of research studies is done according to the researchers distinct way of mind set regarding social reality and communication. Consequently researchers use different types of research methods and paradigms in accordance with their variable versions of viewing the world. Discussion Interviews In the discipline of marketing communications, advertising and public relations, qualitative research frequently employs interviewing. However, there are different comprehensions regarding the purpose and nature of an interview. As per tradition, interviews positivist researchers have appropriated interviews as a talking questionnaire (Belk, Fischer & Kozinets, 2013). According to Holsteinand Gubrium (2004) interview is a pipeline for transporting knowledge (p.141). In this context, the aim of the interviewer is to extract required information out of respondents for the purposes of research. The most significant aim of a study employing

4 4 interview is to obtain knowledge, ideas, opinions/attitudes feelings, and self-reported behaviours of target population. For interviews a researcher must: Identify the required information Identify the population for the study Manage the schedule of interview and plan careful administration of the interview Define a representative sample Record the data interpret and analyse the data collected properly communicate the results The special value of interviews is the flexibility they offer as the answers obtained from interviewees enhance the evolving conversation. A researcher has the discretion to get rather prompt information when a novel or an interesting aspect emerges during the interview. This is possible because there are no restrictions as in a pre-planned, inflexible list of questions as in the quantitative questionnaire method (Kvale, 2009). Likewise, since the ideas of respondents are on priority, they are able to explore their thoughts rather deeply and have more control over the procedure if they like. This allows respondents both give spontaneously and honest reactions to questions or they can take time to reflect upon their answers to articulate their ideas gradually. This can be observed particularly in interviewing. The informants often revise and amend original response. The interviewer can make follow ups to clarify the comprehension of the reply immediately, or the researcher may proceed gradually while developing trust of the interviewees. Another advantage of interviews is the data collected are related and targeted within the social context. This means that the responses derived from interviewees are their subjective views.

5 5 Thus the evidence of the research is founded on interpretations of the respondents and their experiences in their own words. This way the jargon and style of language that is meaningful to respondents is maintained. This is contrary to quantitative surveys which treat respondents as if they are not dependent to the context that produces those (Berg & Lune, 2012). Interviews are also suitable method in case when the researcher wishes to understand the foundations of the opinions and beliefs of interviewees regarding the situation under consideration or the product. Easterby-Smith et al. (2008) argue that interviews are beneficial in following situations when logic of the situation is ambiguous if the subject matter is commercially sensitive or confidential if the respondent wishes to keep anonymity and prefer one-one settings if the interview has the aim to developing understanding of working world of the participants so that researcher may be able influence it, as in the case of preparing an advertisement for the consumers to convince them buy the product Interviews are often employed in cases when researchers are aiming to gain cultural knowledge of the respondents, such as marketplace, because, the interview from a cultural perspective, is a performance of the interviewer and interviewee to conduct cultural talk and consequently enact cultural meanings. It is not a mirror reflection of the external world of the respondent or the inner life of interviewees (Moisander and Valtonen, 2006). Focus Groups Researchers of public relations and marketing communications generally use focus groups to obtain extensive insights into a wide range of strategies and issues, from the macro view for

6 6 example the impact of culture of the nation on strategic decision-making or public relations, to the very limited scoped view such as responses of consumer to advertisements (Bloor, 2001). The focus group approach is not confined to the ideas and thinking of the researcher alone or to a single participant in interview; rather, it has questions and answers and evaluations produced by the produced by all members of the group themselves. A reason to choose and employ focus group method is because it facilitates the researcher to gather evidence from a wide range of distinct voices on the subject simultaneously. Focus groups enable a setting in which divergent perspectives as well as experiences emerge on the discourse platform on a particular topic (Krueger, 2009). Focus groups allow researchers to observe the ways people tend to interact while discussing a topic and the ways they respond to each other in case of disagreements. Focus groups provide special value if researchers is aiming to identify specific attitudes and behaviours, for example consumers responses to brands or advertisements. Also if researcher wants to inspect the interpretations and experiences of people with respect to any event, a public issue, media content or a specific topic. Focus group helps researchers to identify how a number of people share a common view, or a variety of views, regarding a topic. Researchers can also evaluate how and why people feel about that topic (Ibid). The interactive nature of focus group is another advantage. When participants share their individual experiences and hear about members experiences, often a discussion or argument evolves among them with respect to the different views and interpretations. These arguments refine and expand on the ideas and perceptions about the topic and add new perspectives. It is important to encourage responses of all members and participants so that an elicited opinion can be drawn out of the group interaction. Moisander and Valtonen(2006), suggested following benefits of group interactions

7 7 it stimulates thought process in all members of the group it enable participants to consider a range of distinct views of different members of the group even if those views are a challenge to their own it promotes deeper discussions it reminds individual members those things which they might have ignored it helps other members enhance their thoughts and opinions and facilitates them to verbalise their opinions it has potential to drive shifts in attitudes of the members Focus group research is ideal for providing access to participants who are traditionally suspicious of research and for bringing to the surface meanings and emotions that might not be articulated elsewhere. The group setting contributes to the building of trustful relationships between participants and researcher and also provides a supportive forum for the expression of opinions that might not be disclosed even in private (Hennink, 2013). This is particularly notable in research conducted over the Internet; computer-mediated communications seem to have the potential to engender a heightened permissive environment where it is not uncommon for complete strangers to candidly discuss personal views and attitudes (Mann and Stewart, 2000). It appears that people like the safety and anonymity that are offered by the computer screen A researcher can accumulate large amount of data by employing focus group discussions in limited space of time. Focus groups are also comparatively cheaper if individual interviews were to be conducted with the same number of participants. A researcher can gain a wider range of insights by bringing six to ten people together in a limited period. These insights can be analysed and transcribed fairly quicker as compared to conducting a one-to-one interviews and then analysing and transcribing individually. Additionally, using the internet focus groups arranged

8 8 more easily and quickly than face-to-face focus groups. Online focus groups enables researcher to recruit, and conduct focus groups within limited time space. The analysis of online focus group is also easier and quicker as the discussions can be readily recorded or automatically recorded and can be printed any time which saves considerable amount of time. Transcripts can be prepared instantaneously and be processed in a content analysis program (Gaddis, 2001). Conclusion Research is a fundamental part of designing an advertising campaign or a PR campaign. Thus it is important to conduct extensive research with most suitable approach using the best methodology. In advertising, public relations and media campaigns generally qualitative research is used and most employed methods in this discipline are interviews and focus groups. Depending upon the thinking of the researcher and his vision about the as well as the requirement of the investigation interviews, surveys, focus groups are conducted to obtain desirable and target outcomes.

9 Bibliography 9 Belk, R., Fischer, E. and Kozinets, R, V., Qualitative consumer & marketing research. Sage: London, pp Berg, B. L. & Lune H., Qualitative research methods for the social sciences. Pearson: London. Bloor, M., Focus groups in social research. Sage: London Easterby-Smith, M., Thorpe, R. & Jackson, P.R. (2008) Management Research. 3rd edn. Sage: London. Hennink, M. (2013). Understanding Focus Group Discussions Understanding Statistics Understanding qualitative research. Oxford University Press. Hoglund, K. & Oberg, M. (2011). Understanding Peace Research: Methods and Challenges. Taylor & Francis: London Holstein, J.A. & Gubrium, J.F. (2004) The active interview. In D. Silverman (ed.) Qualitative Research: Theory, Method and Practice. Sage: London, Kvale, S., Interviews: learning the craft of qualitative research interviewing. Sage: London Mann, C. & Stewart, F. (2000) Internet Communication and Qualitative Research: A Handbook for Researching Online. Sage: London Moisander, J. & Valtonen, A. (2006) Qualitative Marketing Research. Sage: London

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