Where PR means Pseudo Research

It’s very easy these days to be seduced by facts and figures bombarding those of us who reside in socialmediaville. Infographics, soundbites and statistics proliferate, often sensational and always enticing – and frequently ripped out of recently published “research”.

There’s no doubt about it, “research” creates great PR, both in print and online media.

Whilst writing a piece for Riding the Ripple (as yet unpublished) on the pros and cons of employers blocking access to social media, I kept stumbling across several examples of this. All have been widely reproduced in hundreds of blogs and news aggregators out there, and all have invariably been treated as research and not PR.

Forget about column inches – these reports have generated column miles:

Looking Inside Out: Benchmarking web usage and social media behaviour in the workplace
Commissioned by a company that specialises in web and email filtering and reporting solutions.

Social Media Costing UK Economy up to £14billion in Lost Work Time
Report on the proliferation of employees accessing social media sites at work commissioned by an online recruitment company.

I Can’t Get My Work Done! How Collaboration & Social Tools Drain Productivity
Commissioned by a company that supplies ‘Social email’ software.

I don’t doubt that that this kind of PR research can contain very useful and interesting insights and learnings. And I certainly I don’t question the integrity of the statistics they contain.

I do feel however that we must tread carefully when relying on them as a basis for contributing to an intellectual argument and making robust decisions in business.

Because fundamentally they are a sales tool.

Has anyone come across any other recent examples they would like to share?