Specialized Research Techniques
Engaging the public in meaningful consultation can be a challenge. The reality of most consultation processes is that they start out aiming to collect the views of average citizens, but end up collecting the views of organized advocacy groups.
Past experience shows that many stakeholders feel they don’t know enough to contribute to a public consultation. Others fear the combative nature of some public processes or prefer not to risk offending friends and neighbours by taking positions on controversial issues. Still more simply don’t pay attention and remain unaware of consultations that they would participate in if they were “in-the-know”. How do we get past these hurdles? We think the answer is to combine the best practices from both opinion research and consultation disciplines.
At INNOVATIVE, our approach to consultation begins by designing opportunities for representative members of the general public and local stakeholders to discuss and provide their input regarding our clients’ issues. We then give participants the chance to immerse themselves in what can sometimes be a complicated or controversial issue in order to deliver constructive results to our clients.
Multiple Mode Research
When conducting complex research studies, we often use multiple modes of research to obtain the opinions of hard-to-reach audiences, build a sample OR ensure our online panel studies are weighted representatively.
When an audience is hard-to-reach, we often need to use more than one survey instrument to engage a population. In these cases, we use a combination of online, telephone, mail-back and fax-back surveys as not all respondents have access to a particular medium.
Sometimes we need to conduct very lengthy, detailed surveys. In this situation we usually suggest an online option for our clients as it is a more cost-effective approach than traditional telephone surveys. However, we do not always have adequate sample for the research study. In this case, we tend build an interview sample by using telephone callers to solicit respondents to participate in an online survey.
Program development and evaluation research has similar challenges to opinion research. Often the programs in question are not central to the audiences targeted. Behaviours, attention and attitudes are often driven emotionally, not rationally.
Program development requires the type of segmentation we see in communications research. When we look at programs such as the flu shot campaign or electricity conservation, we generally need to group people together by motivating values, needs and benefits to ensure a program is developed in a way that effectively mobilizes the greatest share of the market possible.
INNOVATIVE’s model of program evaluation starts with an input session to clearly identify the goals of the program as well as identify critical initial beliefs about both the ‘problem’ and the ‘solution’, core values that are engaged in the process, and perceptions of the value of the intervention. We then proceed to implement pre- and post-surveys among a control group and at least one treatment group.
Intercept interviews are a quantitative data collection method, also often called exit interviews, in which visitors or customers are interviewed immediately after their experience with a business or organization. Intercept interviews are often used to gauge visitor satisfaction regarding events and attractions. For example, INNOVATIVE has conducted intercept interviews for festivals, hospitals and sporting venues.