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Health Care Embraces Panel Research

Hospitals and health systems are embracing new ways to improve patient engagement and communication by using panel-based research techniques.

The way people communicate is changing rapidly. Almost all households have access to the Internet. Smartphone and tablet use is widespread. Patients want to communicate with service organizations they trust and they want to do it at times that are convenient for them. Panel research allows this to happen.

Panel research uses web-based research tools. Customers are invited by email to participate in online surveys. Participants are asked if they want to continue to participate in future research. Typically, 60 to 70 percent say yes. This group forms the panel for future research.

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The Conversation Survey

An intentional series of one-on-one conversations can be a great source of information and insight. Even though it is among the cheapest forms of research, conversation surveys often are only an afterthought.

Unlike telephone or online surveys that center on questions with multiple-choice answers, one-on-one conversations are based on open-ended conversations. The whole idea is to start a conversation, not get an answer.

Skilled researchers guide the conversation through a series of pre-determined questions, but allow the conversation to find its own parameters and depth. Skillful conversation guides know how to keep the conversation going without skewing it in any particular direction by inserting their own views.

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Stress Is a Fact of Life

An NPR survey explores the extent and sources of stress, which is clearly a fact of many of our daily lives.If it seems as if a lot of people are stressed out, it may be because they are.

A survey conducted earlier this year by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health revealed almost half of the 2,500 adult respondents said they had experienced a major stress in the past year. More than 25 percent said they had been under severe stress the previous month.

Survey results showed the people feeling the most stress were in poor health, disabled or suffering from chronic conditions. Other significant sources of stress are problems at work, life changes, family issues and personal relationships gone sour.

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Moving the Needle Is What Counts

Public affairs and public relations campaigns must do more than rack up statistics. They need to move the needle.

Measuring success can be highly variable in the public affairs and public relations world. If you are handling communications for a ballot measure campaign, success is easy to mark — you either win or lose at the polls. But most of the time, success comes in the form of incremental movement.

Just because the advance is incremental doesn't mean you can blow off measuring it. For example, coming up with an incentive to encourage loyal customers to come to your restaurant one more time each month may not seem like a big deal, but the return on investment — a discount or free food item — can be enormous because you are communicating with people that already love your restaurant.

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Visual Pop to Press Releases

Enriching press releases with visual content will dramatically increase your odds of getting it noticed, according to statistics compiled by PR Newswire.

A single visual asset can give a nearly 100 percent boost to a press release. Multi-media inclusions yield a 552 percent greater chance of grabbing attention. A press release with a smart infographic improves odds by more than 5,000 percent. That's not a typo — 5,092 percent, to be exact.

PR Newswire, which distributes press releases and media advisories, analyzed more than 1 million press releases and reported 86 percent land on reporter and editor desks without any visual support.

The data suggests it is a far better use of time and energy to think about visual additions to a press release than the actual wording of the release itself. Reporters worth their salt won't use press releases verbatim and, in the absence of a visual enticement, may ignore them altogether.

The simple inclusion of a quality image, a logo or B-roll video ups the chances a press release will see the light of day on a media person's computer desktop.

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