Ukrainian Journalists Take Part in Marketing Research Workshop

How to write questionnaires. How to conduct focus groups. How to do scientific sampling. How to get systematic feedback from advertisers. How to use marketing research to gain an edge in a competitive media environment.

These were among the topics 15 Ukrainian journalists learned about in a three-day workshop in late September in Yalta, in the Crimea region of the country.

The workshop was organized by ProMedia Ukraine and the James M. Cox Jr. Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research at the University of Georgia. Two University of Georgia professors and an alumnus of the University served as discussion leaders and marketing research experts for the workshop.

J. Carroll Dadisman, retired publisher of Tallahassee Democrat, a daily newspaper in Tallahassee, Florida, began the workshop by telling the journalists that he used marketing research extensively in his career and that such research gives those who use it an advantage over competitors in a crowded media market.

Cox Center Director Dr. Lee B. Becker outlined for the workshop participants various ways to learn about audience interests, including informal methods, surveys and focus groups. He provided a critique of the various methods and stressed the value of using scientific methods to learn about readers.

Dr. Barry Hollander, a journalism professor in the Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, explained how to draw scientific samples, even where lists of population members are not available. Hollander showed how to use street and building maps of a community to select housing units and then how to use random procedures to select respondents within living units. Participants also learned how to estimate the error in samples drawn.

Dr. Becker led the group through a discussion of questionnaire construction. The outcome was a questionnaire to measure pass-along readership of the newspaper and audience interests in various types of newspaper content.

Dr. Becker also illustrated how to conduct a focus group by using the 15 journalists as potential members of such a group and indicating how to hold a discussion in the group on differing versions of a prototype of a new newspaper product.

Dr. Hollander listed step-by-step the ways in which a survey is to be fielded. He included information on recruitment and training of interviewers and verification of work completed.

In the final working session Dadisman explained how to survey advertisers and potential advertisers of a newspaper in an effort to learn how to make the paper itself more valuable to the advertiser. Advertisers have opinions about the newspaper, Dadisman said, and it is extremely valuable to make an effort to learn how the advertisers feel and want.

Dadisman held managerial positions at five American newspapers in addition to the paper in Tallahasse. Since his retirement he has served as a managerial consultant in the area of market research for several Russian newspapers. Dadisman is a graduate of the journalism program at the University of Georgia and remains involved in activities of the University.

Dr. Hollander worked as a journalist before joining the faculty of the Grady College, where he has conducted research on various aspects of the new media and the Internet. He has conducted research of online newspaper readership and readership of magazines.

Dr. Becker, in addition to directing the Cox Center, teaches journalism in the Grady College. He is an expert on survey research and has conducted audience research for a number of newspapers in the United States. He also has conducted research on audience reactions to new media offerings.

Following the three-day workshop in Yalta, Dadisman, Hollander and Becker traveled with representatives of ProMedia Ukraine to Feodosija and Kerc in the Crimea to consult directly with the staffs of newspapers in those cities. In Feodosija the consultation focused on use of a telephone sampling procedure to measure audience interests. In Kerc the advisory team met with editors to talk about a wide range of topics, including the importance of marketing research but also the ways in which media in the United States cover governmental activities.

"It was a pleasure to work with the Ukrainian journalists," Dr. Becker said. "I learned a great deal from them, and I hope they learned something from working with us. We certainly are indebted to the leadership of ProMedia Ukraine for all they did to make this workshop a success."

The Cox Center and ProMedia Ukraine will collaborate on a workshop in the Spring of 2001 on coverage of environmental and health issues. That workshop most likely will be held in Kiev.