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Research. The Thing We Love to Hate.

First Impressions
As a public relations student, research has been embedded into my curriculum (and life) since day one.     

You can say that I have always had a love/hate relationship with research. Mostly hate. 

When people think of research, generally a large sigh follows. 

I’ll be the one to say what everyone is thinking: research is difficult, time consuming and maybe even a little boring. 

Okay. A lot boring. At least it was for me anyway. 

But everything really changed the day I was assigned the role as research director for the RF Branding initiative for Grafton. 

I guess you can say you get a different perspective when your research is something that actually matters and can make a difference for people and a small town like Grafton.  

Before this initiative, research was always this thing in my life that was theoretical and didn’t really do anything. At the end of a day, I wrote a research paper that served no purpose other than to get a grade and practice research as it was going to be a part of my life from then on (so my professors always said).

What I didn’t realize at the time was that my professors were right and it really was preparing me for this very moment. 

What I've Realized
I have lived and breathed research for the past four years of my life and now is my chance to finally put it into practice with this community branding initiative. 

I’ve finally realized that you can't really do anything without research. 

You have to know where something stands before you can actually make it better and move forward.

In an integrated strategic communication agency such as the one we have for the community branding initiative in our capstone class, research is the center of everything that we do and a necessary step before we can execute any tactics. It is essential in any strategic plan in order to establish realistic goals, meet communications objectives and increase our agency’s chance of success.


Research will help our team strategize, substantiate claims, and allow us to make informed decisions. It will allow our agency to pinpoint insights related to our audiences and effectively execute outreach campaigns successfully.

Understanding our client and consumers is critical in strategic communications in order to build a more effective campaign. Research is just the tool to do so. It is the foundation necessary to any campaign.

<---Grafton Branding Committee roundtable held in City Hall during RF Branding Group's first immersion trip as part of our primary research. Photos by David Smith/ WVU Reed College of Media.

The Takeaway
Research matters. It is THE means to an end.

Not only is it the foundation to everything we do as an agency, but also is the vehicle for growth. 

It is the tool our agency will use to ultimately enhance business recruitment and retention, resident relocation, tourism and citizen satisfaction and develop a new, creative brand identity for the city of Grafton.

Research really is a lot of planning, a lot of time, and a lot of effort, but it will all be worth it in the end because we really are making a difference and helping people. And that is what is most important. 


My name is Amanda Horan and I’m a senior at West Virginia University in Morgantown, W.Va. I’m currently working on my bachelor of sciences in strategic communications with an emphasis in public relations, while minoring in international relations with hopes of one day traveling the world. I consider myself an adventurous soul always looking for the next big exploration. Through all of my traveling, I've found that the biggest adventures often lie in the most unexpected places. My goal is to inspire people to realize that Grafton is one of those places. I want people to be excited about Grafton again. I am the Public Relations Research Director of the RF Branding Group for this community branding initiative. Through this role, I will facilitate any research necessary in forming relationships with the client as well as ensure that our department is aware of the needs of the community when creating PR opportunities.