The Value in Creating Industry Reports for PR and Thought Leadership
An industry report’s purpose is to view your business idea in a greater scheme, allowing a comparison to the industry as a whole. Industry reports are a marketing assessment tool and an important form of analysis. They allow you to understand the position of your business relative to other participants, aiming to give you an advantage over the others. They include everything that’s happening in the industry, whether that be the demand-supply statistics, the degree of competition within the industry, future prospects, credit systems, and any external factors that may affect the business. There’s no one way to complete an industry report; the most popular forms of conducting industry reports are by SWOT analysis, Porter’s 5 Forces, and the Broad Factors Analysis (PEST). Wondering what those are? Read further!
SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Strengths and weaknesses are to assess internal factors of your business, the ways in which you are succeeding and ways in which you could be better. Opportunities and threats, on the other hand, are ways of taking into consideration external factors, such as analyzing what your competitors are doing better than you. An outline is provided below:
STRENGTHS: Internal factors of a business which give it an advantage over others
WEAKNESSES: Internal factors of a business that make it disadvantageous among competitors.
OPPORTUNITIES: External factors of a business that may allow it to formulate and integrate strategies to become more profitable.
THREATS: External factors of a business that have the potential to endanger the integrity and profitability of the business.
Competitive Forces Model (Porter’s 5 Forces)
This industry report style was first introduced by American academic, Michael Porter, in his book from the 1980s, “Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analyzing Industries and Competitors.” The strategy is to analyze the following: the intensity of rivalry, the threat of potential entrants, the bargaining power of suppliers, the bargaining power of buyers, and the potential threat of substitute goods or services. According to Porter, these five forces will help you get a better impression of the industry that you are analyzing. His formula is very popular and a lot of people implement it as the skeleton of their industry reports.
Broad Factors Analysis (PEST)
PEST stands for Political, Economic, Social and Technological. These four components help as a useful framework for analyzing the external environment exclusively. To start off, the political component is good for researching policies and regulations such as tariffs, trade policies, labor laws, and more. The economic component, on the other hand, is more for analyzing forces that can potentially impact the economy of your business. This includes researching factors such as inflation, exchange rates, interest rates, GPD growth rates, ability to access capital, and more. The social aspect refers to industry trends such as population growth, demographics, and behaviors (i.e. fashion, health, or social movements). Lastly is the technological component of this equation that incorporates factors such as developments in technology that can impact the way that a business operates and more importantly, the way that people live their lives. A good example of a technological component of this magnitude is the invention of the internet.
Why it's important
Industry reports play an important role as an intersection of public relations (PR), content, sales, marketing, and overall business-wise. Every sub-section of a business can benefit from one. The PR team will have a story to pitch, the content team will have a story to write, the sales team will have profitable information to sell, and the marketing team will have newsworthy data to distribute. It definitely gives a business an upper hand.
As stated earlier, it’s extremely necessary for a business to conduct industry reports in order to understand a business idea in the greater scheme of things, therefore, allowing for a critical comparison to competitors. However, an industry report is also an important marketing and sales asset. Businesses that conduct industry reports can later use that analysis as a way to market themselves favorably, as one of a kind, as well as a profitable venture for those who are interested in their services. In other words, it’s a good way of presenting marketing and sales with deliverables— and if there aren’t as many deliverables as hoped for, the industry report will point the business in the right direction for growth and monetization.
Not only that, but the distribution of an industry report can also become very profitable if done correctly and if done with those intentions. Publications, in some cases, will pay for an exclusive look at an industry report, giving them the opportunity to publish completely original content and insights. This is also a really good way to provoke conversations, an aspect that is very favorable for PR purposes as well because you’ll get people talking about you and your business. Encouraging opinions about the research you gathered for your industry report is a positive thing.
Lastly, industry reports are extremely valuable because they are timeless if you keep building on them. Industry reports aren’t only conducted at the birth of a business, they are also conducted during as well. This is because they are a good way to evaluate and wage business changes such as new product integrations. In order to allow for continuity in industry reports, they have to stem off of each other. For this reason, you will find that many industry reports reference past ones, further highlighting successes or failures that need to be continued or discontinued. All in all, industry reports are a very universal technique used to evaluate and continue evaluating businesses because they grant essential insight.
Thinking of creating your own industry report?
This is how PRLab does it.
- Brainstorming: The first step in creating a well-rounded industry report should always include a brainstorming session. The types of questions you should ask yourself include: What value does your industry report bring to your business? Is it about reporting trends? Will your industry report be used for PR or as a sales asset? Or are you making efforts to talk about the state of a new term in an industry? In other words, it’s about deciding what angle you want to take with the report and positioning yourself accordingly. We value this step a lot as it provides a skeleton to the research that we will be conducting.
- Planning: This is where we think of every little detail that we want to include in our report and also where we identify who we are researching. Are you reporting to like-minded industry professionals, clients, or other companies? This kind of question helps deduct our targeted audience and in turn, tailor what kind of information we want to be providing. It’s important to organize research questions right away because it’ll make the research part of the process much easier. This is also where you will be deciding whether the information provided in the industry report will be internal data. If so, in what way will it be internal? How many people will have access to this information? Decide the level of confidentiality. If you are deciding for the opposite approach, a more global one, how do you plan on distributing this content? Maybe a local platform? An example of this is the industry report that we wrote for Paazl that we decided to distribute on a local platform, de Volkskrant.
- Researching: The third step is where the actual research begins to happen and where PRLab allocates the time to get started on it together. The reason why it’s important to have several people doing the analysis is that research takes longer than you think. It’s not always easy to reach people and information on websites are not always accurate, making both of these factors a certain degree of unreliable. Integrating more people and conducting industry reports as a team allows for more hands-on deck to deal with unreliable factors such as those mentioned previously. For those doing international industry reports, we highly recommend having translators at your disposal. But be careful when going international, it is easy to lose the intended focus decided when planning the research questions in step #2. Don’t think too wide because you put yourself, and your industry report, at risk of losing momentum. Target, target, target!
- Analyzing:This is the step where you begin to breakdown all of the information that you’ve been collecting. It’s a crucial step because it adds meaning to your research, research that is not accompanied with conclusions will lose value. Go into detail, what do all of the numbers mean together? Are there any similarities or differences between them? Don’t be discouraged if you find out that some of the information that you collected is redundant or simply unuseful. This is also the step where you figure out what worked and what didn’t; perhaps you will find out that some new research will have to be conducted for better results. Or, that your approach has to change entirely, meaning that you might have to revisit the first two steps. Again, don’t be discouraged.
- Writing & Design: How you lay out the information of an industry report is also extremely important because it establishes how it will be consumed. The format in which you are displaying the information has everything to do with the kind of information you are communicating. First, think about if it will be printed. Should it be in a brochure format? Should it be in a landscape format? What page size is most appropriate, A4? These are all important questions to consider while thinking about how you’re going to lay out your text. Be smart with quotes, perhaps you want to emphasize some more than others? Think of graphics and pullouts, maybe you want to highlight an interview quote with big bold letters. A fun PRLab fact, given to us by one of our graphic designers, is that it’s necessary to allow for page “breathers” by allocating a page every so often with a lot of negative space. The negative space can be interrupted by colors, illustrations, or pullouts, but it’s important to allow the reader a minute of reflection.
- Presentation: The way an industry report is presented is extremely important and it’s a step that we value a lot here at PRLab. It’s about thinking of the report’s distribution, launch, and release. Make a landing page! Do you want the industry report to be gated or open? If you want it accessible to the community, perhaps consider including it in an article or blog post. This is a common choice but something that should enter consideration at the beginning of this whole process so that the marketing and sales end of it is already in the works. For PR purposes, its important that the industry report is linkable, easily accessible, and shareable– having it live on the website is a good idea but not before pitching it as a story to publications. Sometimes publications will appreciate the exclusivity of receiving an unpublished report that can give serious insight to specific industries. Provoking conversations about your report is ideal, let people have opinions about it and write their own story about it.
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