Public opinion and communications research


Focus Groups

Bisconti Research focus groups reveal new insights for actions, messages, and communications strategy and materials. Focus groups uncover ideas and language that the client may have not considered and weaknesses as well as strengths in proposed strategies. Examples of different types of focus groups include:

  • Focus groups with policy elites on new concepts for print advertising, electronic advertising on websites, and the landing page.
  • Focus groups with policy elites on ways to communicate in lay language about a highly technical regulatory topic.
  • Focus groups with the general public on cost recovery for new nuclear facilities.
  • Focus groups with plant neighbors on license renewal, waste management, and other nuclear energy topics.
  • Focus groups with the general public on messages and advertising about aerosol products.
  • Focus groups with emergency preparedness experts on FEMA flood communications tools.
  • Focus groups with nuclear power plant employees on perceptions of the mission, plant performance, and employee's role.
  • Focus groups with students in electrical, mechanical, chemical, and nuclear engineering at four universities on their perceptions of careers in nuclear energy and how these perceptions were formed.
  • Focus groups with high school students on information materials about careers in energy.

In-Person Interviews

Face-to-face in-person interviews are used to test messages and materials. Whereas focus groups offer new insights (“ah ha moments”), individual interviews are more reliable for measuring effectiveness. Examples of Bisconti Research projects with in-person interviews include:

  • Tests of four advertisements for message breakthrough in clutter and persuasion. Each ad was tested first for breakthrough in a portfolio of ads by other advertisers. Then all four test ads were compared on measures of relevance and the strength of the case.
  • Messages about a topic were ranked on measures of relevance and persuasion and strengths and weaknesses of each were discussed. The study also queried the meanings and connotations of terms commonly used to discuss the topic.

Executive Interviews

Executive interviews are conducted with leaders in government, business, think tanks, laboratories, and other organizations by a skilled interviewer who covers basic questions in depth and clarifies new insights revealed during the course of an interview. Recent executive interview studies include:

  • A study about where nuclear science expertise resides, based on interviews with top leaders in the United States.
  • A study about water issues for all forms of electricity production, based on interviews with top utility executives.
  • A study about nuclear power plant longevity, based on interviews with top industry executives.
  • A study about U.S. leaders’ opinions on the effectiveness of Japanese communications about the Kashiwazaki incident, based on interviews with leading industry executives and energy reporters.
  • A study about U.S. industry response to the Fukushima accident in Japan, based on interviews with top industry executives.
  • A study about Nuclear Regulatory Commission policies and practices, based on interviews with heads of all departments.
  • Studies about how a national laboratory could best meet user needs, based on interviews with users and potential users.

Case Studies and Topical Reports

Skilled interviewing is also used for case study reports on best practices and for topical reports. Recent examples (not available for public release):

  • Handbook on Effective Communications about Nuclear Energy. Includes best-practice case studies for planning, public opinion research, outreach, advertising, media relations, crisis communications, and training.
  • Will Climate Change Boost Nuclear Energy’s Prospects?
  • How the NRC Builds a Strong, Independent Workforce
  • U.S. Approach to “Going Beyond:” Protecting People and the Environment in Case of a Rare, Severe Nuclear Power Plant Accident
  • Emergency Preparedness after Three Mile Island
  • The Toughest Communications Challenge from Fukushima: Radiation
  • U.S. Nuclear Industry Takes on Knowledge Transfer Challenge
  • U.S. Nuclear Industry Actions to Develop Predictable Safety Culture Assessment
  • U.S. Seeks to Regain Nuclear Export Market Share
  • NRC Stakeholder Involvement: Priority and Practices
  • Utility Perspectives on Carbon Cap and Trade and Implications for Nuclear Energy