Turning Research Into a Smash Hit TV Show

By Jessica Fennell

PowerPoint. It’s always had your back. From group presentations at university to quarterly tracker meetings with your biggest client, it’s never let you down. You have spent years developing your presenting prowess. You have mastered the art of making a 2 hour debrief fly past. But how often do you consider what happens once your presentation leaves the debrief room?

  • Does its impact dull without your delivery?
  • Would even a cut-down version for your client’s executive board deliver the same impact when research is a mere bullet point on the c-suite agenda?

The readership of our research often extends far beyond the original stakeholders. Outside of the debrief room, the experience of consuming research for these ‘invisible stakeholders’ is almost always compromised.

But what if it didn’t need to be? What if your presentation becomes, consistently, the most anticipated item on the agenda? What if it could inform, engage and…dare we say it, entertain?

Video as a format, and specifically one that harnesses the techniques of TV isn’t just a mode of presentation. It can also be a powerful way of creating high engagement with both participants and stakeholders alike – getting your research up the agenda as a result.

For a while, we market researchers have seen the benefits of utilising popular culture to present and promote our research. We are now prioritising the socialisation of research on an equal footage to the insight generation process itself. For us, this started by “branding” our client and participant-facing research. This now extends to the medium in which we both conduct and present our research.

We have seen with a recent customer closeness project for a large retailer that longitudinal research, which often needs to make an impact with hundreds of stakeholders, particularly lends itself to an episodic TV format. We boiled down hundreds of hours of qualitative research into 13 self-contained episodes. These have so far been ‘broadcast’ to thousands of stakeholders and suppliers within our client’s organisation. In turn, this has allowed insights to drive positive business outcomes.

So, what have we learnt about harnessing the power of TV for research?

Getting Client Buy-In

The first question you might ask is: how do you convince your client to take a huge leap of faith to buy into something like a TV show?

Building compelling project branding is key for both stakeholders and participants, allowing your project to get immediate cut-through. It also fosters a stronger sense of ownership and excitement for the client. This means that insights which are uncovered are more likely to be actioned.

It’s also important to enable moments of collaboration. Our clients were fully involved in the process throughout. From recruitment, to attending all research events, to playing a key part in the editing process.

Casting Your Stars

Like any good TV show, our project relied upon finding participants. These had to fit our recruitment criteria and have the right ‘star quality’ to keep our clients engaged over a year-long study. We went to great lengths to ‘cast’ our stars in-person. From recruiting them outside stores, to putting them through a casting couch process with several phases of video interviews until we found the ‘stars’ of our show.

Producing Your Show

Once you cast your stars, it’s time to produce your TV show! We learnt that the craft of producing a perfect TV show by collaborating with those who work in TV itself; from videographers and editors to our very own voice artist!

We also spent time thinking about both the locations we filmed our interviews and the types of shots we used to create the most visually compelling footage.

And finally, when it came to editing our episodes, we storyboarded each scene to craft a strong narrative from one episode to the next. This helped keep viewers engaged, while communicating the most business-critical insights.

Want to find out more? Tune in for Northstar’s top tips for ‘Turning Research Into A Smash Hit TV Show’ with Viz-Fest 2018 at 16:00 on Tuesday 6th November. Register here.

Jessica Fennell, Research Manager, Northstar Research

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