For me this topic linked back to Week 4’s Public Opinion topic, and to some extent Publics and Relations. I spoke earlier about the challenge of immeasurable and indefinable ‘public opinion’, and I guess research is the solution I was looking for. It was mentioned in the lecture that research helps us to identify and understand issues, which makes a lot of sense. The concept of inputs, outputs and outcomes demystified a lot of things for me. I was thinking; ‘if public opinion is so unreliable and inaccurate, how the heck do we know how to improve our relationship and reputation with publics??’ but it’s becoming clear that there are research methods that help to determine what problems need to be solved and can indicate how we might go about it. I’m starting to see how integral it is to the communication process. How do we communicate effective messages if we’re not well informed? As boundary spanners, we’ve got to have one ear to the ground.