I have thirty years of experience as an editor, journalist, public relations specialist, qualitative researcher, and communications consultant. I’ve been an investigative news journalist, a feature writer, and an editor for trade and consumer magazines and have published three academic books (see my published works under the tab Writing, on the menu). I hold a Masters Degree in Technical Communications and a Doctorate in Communication.
- Business writing. Internal and external communication pieces including promotional brochures, press releases, blogs/websites, and newsletters
- Ghostwriting and freelance writing
- Copy editing
- Content (developmental) editing for periodicals, magazines, webzines, and books. See academic editing, below.
I provide copy and content (developmental) editing for these subjects: sustainability-related industries, alternative healthcare, healthy lifestyle, religion/spirituality, cultural studies, sociology, media studies, Celtic studies, English literature, creative writing, and history.
- Journal articles
- Book proposals and manuscripts
- White papers
Every successful message and manuscript grows from the seed of research. For businesses, that means knowing the intended audience, the most cost-effective message-delivery system, the best timing, and the appropriate tone and content. For authors, research might be fleshing out an outline, understanding a subject matter, delving deeper into a time period, or building out a character for a novel. I apply primary and secondary qualitative methodologies to generate effective intelligence to support your initiatives.
Literary and Scholarly Research
With access to international databases and decades of research projects under my belt, I can help authors find that elusive lead on an esoteric subject, conduct background research, flesh out the outline, and more.
Research is the foundation for superior communications and marketing. One of the most common, and easily rectified, failures within an organization is a lack of understanding not only about potential audiences, but also about the business environment in which it operates as well. While most organizations are familiar with their core audiences, there may be populations you are missing, or that you are targeting with ineffective messaging that doesn’t speak to their needs and interests. Using qualitative research methods, I define target groups and how best to reach them.
What is Qualitative Research?
Qualitative research is different from quantitative research. Qualitative research is popular for probing the complexities of people’s attitudes and behaviors. Instead of forcing individuals to fit their answers into preselected categories such as one finds with a survey, for example, qualitative research emphasizes conversation. A skilled qualitative researcher follows a question guide but uses it as a general roadmap, allowing the situation instead to unfold organically and sensing when new, more fruitful lines of questioning are surfacing.
Qualitative research is used:
- To provide insights into the attitudes and behaviors of your target audience including consumers. We examine how and why consumers buy or don’t buy specific products and to learn how they actually put those they do buy to use
- To uncover new directions for product development
- To develop questions for a quantitative study
- To reveal cultural differences and cultural influences on a person or group that affect your organization or product.
Ethnography studies people in their natural environments — where people work, play, think, shop and connect — rather than in a lab or other formal research environment. All qualitative research seeks to go beyond the question-and-answer rigidity of surveys but ethnography goes the furthest in terms of being flexible, innovative and non-restrictive. By engaging with people in their homes, jobs, hobbies, families and other activities, we seek to understand people’s acts and their environments as well as their words.
Ethnographic projects may include watching television with a family in their home, assembling a group of friends over tea to discuss a new product, or even accompanying informants on a shopping excursion.
Focus groups bring people together to talk about products, services, and organizations. In this setting, a moderator/researcher asks questions and encourages the group members to discuss among themselves. Individuals are specifically recruited by the researcher to meet specific characteristics of the target population under study. Both the focus group and in-depth group interviews can provide insights into how people collaborate to construct meaning, values, beliefs, and practices. I can facilitate groups virtually, using digital media and teleconferencing.
The in-depth interview teases out deeper understandings of how social groups, families, friends, work teams, or individuals make sense of their world. These interviews are most often conducted face-to-face, but constraints of budget, time, and distance may preclude this. In that case, interviews can be conducted via the telephone, video conferencing, bulletin boards, or online chat sessions.
Valuable and useful information already exists, and this is a far less expensive avenue to pursue than conducting primary research. Secondary research comprises data that has been collected (think of statistics on health, for example). While not customized to your project, some of this data may suit your needs. This is an affordable, necessary step for many organizations and their communication projects.
It can help you:
- assess the media environment and treatment of specific issues
- learn about the background of a group or organization
- survey public records
- partner with other businesses for the purpose of sharing data on audiences, products, and environments.