Within the communications field, research can be applied to both conceptual problems and practical ones.  Ideas which may be expressed through visuals, writing, or digital design work are strengthened and tested against bodies of information.  Having a great idea is a starting point, but its viability should always be checked and considered through research. 
From a practical standpoint, the ever-changing technologies and materials used requires practitioners to be able to evaluate practices, specifications and solutions on a routine basis.  This requires not only the ability to look up information, it requires generating the questions to ask.


Research a Potential Client
This exercise is intended to direct students towards developing quality research questions based on using comparisons of basic information.

Think Aloud:

Often, the key to connecting with a client is showing them that you understand their business and their operations.  A good strategy to ensure that you have the background knowledge to do this is to use research to compare and contrast related businesses. Finding out what makes a company different from its competition shows interest and awareness.  Company websites hold a great deal of information that will help you distinguish one potential client from other businesses.  This works great in preparing for job interviews, too. 

Say for example you were looking for a part time job and you know that MacDonalds is hiring. You could compare MacDonald’s website to Burger King’s in order to find some “intelligent” things to say about MacDonalds at your interview.  You could use a Venn diagram to map the comparison of the websites.

Through this comparison, we see that there are some significant differences in how these companies show themselves.  This can lead to some good research questions to lead us towards a better understanding of a company:

Is MacDonald’s as a company interested in issues other than food?  What issues? Why are they important to them?   Does MacDonald’s ever use theme strategies to present their menu items or is that a BK thing? Is MacDonald’s a more people oriented business culture?
A quick look won’t give us valid answers and COULD MISLEAD US.  However, it does give us a body of questions for further research.



Outsourcing Print:

Think Aloud:

Imagine that you’re considering accepting job that includes printing 100 full color, full bleed, two sided 4”X6” glossy postcards cards.  For any variety of reasons, you will have these printed by a subcontractor.  You know that there are a variety of companies on the Internet that will provide the service you need.  However, before sending the job out to print, you will need to know the exact specifications in which to submit your files, what to expect in terms of proofing, what delivery schedules will be, and how much the job will cost.  Knowing this before accepting and pricing the job will be critical.  How can you use the Internet to check out possible suppliers and determine if the job can be done?

  1. Google search – narrow down list of providers
  2. Compare providers’ offerings
  3. Compare specifications to what you/your shop can do.
  4. Determine if it is likely that the job can be matched to a provider.

(Note to self: It is unlikely to find a service that is well suited to printing this format in such a low quantity.)



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