Tips For Receiving Survey Respondents!

At first, I felt like this was going to be an absolute nuisance… scrambling to find people to complete my dissertation survey. Worrying I was going to struggle to find a diverse group of people to take part. Asking myself questions like.. How many people do I actually need? What if I don’t get enough people for my research to be actually valid?

However, like anything I took my time, I researched the best possible methods .. and in actual fact, some of the ways I found may be quite useful to those still searching for additional respondents now and in the future.


  1. Social Media


Yea I get it, you are probably thinking “duh……. Obviously I’m going to post it on my social media”. Well, of course, you will, but doesn’t mean I am going to just leave it out.

The reason for this is because it is of utmost importance that not only have you posted to social media on your own feed, but you get your friends and family members to share the absolute…..out of your post. Reaching as many news feeds as possible means the more chance of gaining respondents… although that is sort of a given. I don’t just mean Facebook either, you are going to want to reach out on Instagram, Linkedin, Twitter and any other platforms you might feel beneficial.

  • Make sure this isn’t a one-off thing, regularly share your social media survey posts to keep them up to date on everyone’s newsfeed for the people that may have missed it in the first place.


  1. Email

The Qualtrics software that Ulster University use for their surveys allows you to create an Email Contact list. Once the Qualtrics Survey email is sent out you will receive


notifications through the address of your choice to tell you when you have received an additional response.

This is useful if you have friends or members of your family that may have access to a large number of Email addresses. For example, my sister works at Google in Dublin and she was able to distribute my survey through Email within her department. Obviously not everybody has this luxury, however, it is still important to note it as a possibility for respondents.

In addition to this, generally through the years growing up you may have acquired a number of Email addresses, digging these out from the archives and including them in the Email contact list will do no harm.


  1. The Student Room / Reddit

MJ12For those who don’t know, The Student Room is the UK’s biggest student online community where you can discuss anything from student finance right through to personal issues.

Not only this however, they actually have dedicated forums called ‘The Survey Exchange’ within the website, this allows students to post their survey on the discussion board and other students

will complete their survey in ‘Exchange’ for doing theirs.

Reddit is an American social news and discussion website, I’ve no doubt that you have all heard of it.. So I won’t dwell on it too long. Similar to The Student Room however, Reddit offers a forum to post your survey, on Reddit specifically this is called ‘SampleSize’ and since this website is extremely active and majority American based, it is a chance for you to reach out further afield than the UK.

  • When doing this, make sure like social media to ‘bump’ your thread on the forums so that it is regularly popping up on the website homepage for people to see. This can be done by reposting on your own discussion something along the lines of ‘Still in need of responses’. This will help to generate views of your forum post and in turn, increase survey respondents.


  1. The Survey Tandem


Honestly, I don’t speak for others who use this website but since stumbling upon it I think it’s great. It involves a ‘Survey Exchange’ nature like The Student Room, however this website runs on a currency called ‘Tandem Miles’. When you first sign up to the website, you are prompted to add the title of your Survey, provide a short description of your survey and declare who your survey is for (e.g. Age restrictions, social media users etc.) and then provide the link to your survey.

The catch however, is in order for your survey to stay active on the website and therefore receive respondents you have to earn Tandem Miles and in order to earn Tandem Miles you have to carry out other peoples surveys. Each time someone completes your survey you are charged Tandem Miles. Once your tandem miles rune low your survey becomes inactive and you have to complete more to earn more miles again. This then strikes the vicious cycle of the website, people constantly carrying out each other’s surveys in order for their own to generate respondents. Quite a neat idea if you ask me.

  • Within a week, every morning I woke up I would take around 8 Surveys on the website to earn my ‘Miles’ and to ensure mine stayed active on the site for that day. Each night I would check my progress and often I had 4 or 5 extra respondents sometimes 7+. This may not seem like a lot, but for only taking up 15 minutes of your day, it is very useful and before you know it the respondents will add up.


I hope that for some of the people reading this, they were completely unaware of these methods and therefore found this useful. I hope that this blog post has encouraged you if you have not already to try out the methods and hopefully they will aid you with your dissertation research like they have done me! Good luck! 🙂



Matthew Johnston is a BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations final year student at Ulster University. He can be found on Facebook at: Matthew Johnston and on Linkedin at: 

Employee Engagement – Needless or Necessary?

In an ever growing technological world, organisations are often the victim of the constantly changing environment. Since the early 1990’s we have seen the internet and the ability to communicate instantaneously grow at an exponential rate. Coexisting alongside this change has been the ever-growing ‘need’ for organizations to adopt this ‘relational’ flatter structure. Nowadays, If I were to suggest that an organisation in the 21st Century should be striving for a relational approach toward employees that seems like a reasonable statement, right? Well yes, that is correct, it is completely fair for me to say that this indeed would be beneficial to organisations. However, is it actually necessary? Well, there is no written rule that this has to actually occur… so sadly in short, no it’s not.


For the record employee engagement can be outlined to be;

“A positive attitude held by the employee towards the organisation and its values. An engaged employee is aware of the business context and works with colleagues to improve performance within the job for the benefit of the organisation. The organisation must work to develop and nurture engagement, which requires a two-way relationship between employee and employer.” (Institute of Employment Studies, 2004)

The reality is that employee engagement is far from compulsory, if anything from my personal experience it comes down to employer choice and whether or not they can even be bothered and unfortunately, in my case (they cannot). I have no doubt in my mind that for whatever reason a vast number of organizations choose not to bother and that’s fabulous… if they feel it works. It is important for us to point out however that the main purpose of employee engagement is to induce a sense of value and worth within your employees, make them feel involved rather than left like a cog in a spinning wheel, quickly disposed of and quickly replaced. This, in my opinion, should not be in the minds of any employers.


Strictly avoiding this occurrence should be of utmost importance as disengaged employees can often prove to be a nuisance. Research indicates that one of the main causes of employee disengagement is the fact that they feel they are not listened to and would not possibly be allowed to contribute to their job in any other way than carrying out the predetermined tasks stated for their job role, to me that sounds a little all too bureaucratic.

M6If we take this above pie chart, it shows an example of 10% of employees that are actively disengaged, not just disengaged. They are ACTIVELY not taking part in aspects of your organisation that would prove them to be a better employee, I cannot fathom the logic an employer may find behind letting this occur. The idea of the engaged employee is fiercely the opposite of this. For the purpose of this text, we’ll call it an ‘investment’ in the employee so that in time you receive an outcome which can lead to greater productivity, greater individual performance and greater willingness to work, to name a few. (Mishra, K, Boynton, L, Mishra, A, 2014) support this as they talk about employee engagement and point out that ‘employees are more likely to talk positively about the organisation, remain with the organisation and help their organisation perform more effectively every day” (p. 187-188).

Below I have highlighted some key statistics surrounding employee engagement. (Kumar & Pansari, 2016)

1. 84% of highly engaged employees believe they can positively affect the quality of their organization’s products, compared with only 31% of the disengaged who believe this.
2. 72% of highly engaged employees believe they can positively affect customer service, versus 27% of the disengaged.
3. 68% of highly engaged employees believe they can positively influence costs in their job or unit, versus just 19% of the disengaged

This graph below highlights key aspects of what an employee needs to have within an organisation to reach full engagement;


To me, the graph and the three statistics highlight that honestly, it’s a no-brainer. All of these points stated in the graph sound like elements of an organisation that an employee should have and be entitled to regardless. In my head it makes absolutely no sense as to why employers would not even at least try and implement activities or work programmes to make the people that they have chosen to not only carry out a job for them but also represent the organisation that they own feel their worth within the workplace, it seems like a fairly simple equation, no?


In fairness, this highly depends on the organisation in question and indeed in some cases employee engagement may not be in the best interests of the employer because they either do not have the funds, time or manpower to implement such a scheme and this may be why we are left with organisations still adopting the old methods of hierarchical decision rights, structure and leadership progression. In other instances, organisations competing in a particular market may not feel it necessary to engage employees as all they wish is for the procedures they have put in place to be completed with no questions and if targets aren’t met they deploy disciplinary actions.

M4On a more positive note, one organisation for me that stands out in the eye of employee engagement is Richard Branson and Virgin Media. The strong appeal that Richard Branson has established with Virgin is that his leadership style recognises that happy employees equal happy customers. He believes that employees and their experience within their own workplace really contribute to how they will treat a customer in the future. In an interview with Inc. Magazine, Mr Branson said

“The people out on the frontlines know when things are not going right. If you listen to them, you can soon improve all those negative things.”

In addition to this, if you talk to employees about what attracted to them to Virgin Media, ‘Culture’ will often be their answer. Within an article on the Virgin Media website, Richard Branson talks about how their culture saying it

“shies away from the predictable– thinking differently can open up great opportunities and possibilities. Virgin has never done business as usual, because we believe that the tried and tested route is not always the best path to success.”

They strive to achieve an organisation where employee attitudes are extremely positive at all times. In my opinion, this is what organizations need to aim for, this level of respect for employees creates a competitive advantage that is genuinely priceless. I believe that we will see even more and more relational strategies being introduced within the next five years. We need to realize that whilst employees don’t make the rules, they are in fact the core ingredient to success.


Reference List

Ruck, M. Welch / Public Relations Review 38 (2012) 294– 302; ; Holland, P., Cooper, B. and Sheehan, C. (2016), Employee Voice, Supervisor Support, and Engagement: The Mediating Role of Trust. Hum Resour Manage. doi:10.1002/hrm.21809

Mishra, K., Boynton, L., & Mishra, A. (2014). Driving employee engagement: The expanded role of internal communications. Journal of Business Communication, 51(2), 183-202.

Kumar, V. and Pansari, A., 2016. Competitive advantage through engagement. Journal of Marketing Research53(4), pp.497-514.


Matthew Johnston is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found on Facebook: Matthew Johnston and on Linkedin at:

Student Daddy – Me, Myself and I


M3From my point of view, I am not your average normal student that you see walking down Jordanstown Mall on a Friday morning, late for a lecture after their mad night out at ‘Sketchy’ Thursdays in Limelight. Don’t get me wrong though I’ve most definitely had my fair share of that and nowadays still occasionally get to dabble, occasionally… Maybe I’m being a little stereotypical of students (not) I’m totally spot on. However, in relation to me, my life as a daddy and as far as my university experience has gone, I am yet to find another young student male that has the absolute delight of having a baby, so in some way, I feel that sets me apart from the rest.

I’m 23 years old, the youngest of 4, having two older sisters and an older brother all of which are extremely, EXTREMELY successful in their careers, one being a manager at PWC, the other the manager of Google’s outsourcing on a worldwide basis and the other a former Google designer, now the CEO of his own company in San Francisco, so without a doubt I have taken a different route… no pressure. Being 23, weirdly enough I’m classed as a ‘mature’ student and in some sense of the matter indeed I am mature even though at the best of times I definitely do not feel like it. All my friends, (a group of about 12 of us), with the majority of us knowing each other since p1 and some nursery are all pretty much graduated and in full-time jobs. I’m the last one to yet breach the inevitable fate of adult-hood and a 9-5 job and with the arrival of my son Zach, I am actually very grateful that it worked out for me this way.

It has given me the opportunity to properly adjust to being a father and given me the opportunity that the majority of other fathers do not get, the freedom of being a student. It has granted a lot of free time and has enabled me to be there significantly more than the average dad who is sent back to work 9-5 after 2-3 weeks’ paternity leave. As for me, I was off university for the Christmas holidays when Zach was born and did not return until the end of January. I also got 3 weeks off of my part-time job and even at that, it is only part time which at most equated to 15 hours a week.

As for my son, Zach Johnston (baller name) he was born on the 19th December 2016, at 5.15am, weighing in at 8 pounds, 3 oz. Would you believe it though that we did not actually get out of the hospital until Christmas day! So I must admit it was a very surreal Christmas experience and certainly one me nor my girlfriend will ever forget! It was the craziest experience of my life, but I will spare you the finer details for obvious reasons. The upcoming months after that were in all honesty pure mayhem! I had 3 exams in the month of January just shortly after Zach arrived, but we pulled through and now not only will Zach be turning 1-year-old and It is scary to think I will have a child of that age but I will also be graduating this July (and then there is seriously no escaping adulthood). I loved when Zach was a tiny baby but now he’s getting scarily big it’s starting to freak me out slightly… he’s becoming a  toddler and will be walking any day now! Honestly, his attempts at standing up on his own are comedy gold. Part of me of though wants him to stay a baby but there is part of me itching for him to get a bit older so that I can do more things with like play football and whatever else that may interest him! As for the time prior to Zach being born, I genuinely cannot remember what I did in my spare time! I think I must of lay about the house and played Xbox or something…

Considering my actual studies there has been no detrimental effects that I have experienced. Don’t get me wrong, without a doubt I have to manage my time a lot more than I use to and plan ahead more… there is no longer last-minute cramming of assignments. Nowadays I really need to address when I’m going to get work done but if anything I’m more motivated to do work and do well than I ever was before. Once you have a child it most definitely changes your perspective on a lot of things in your life. My future career was without a doubt one of these things and ensuring I do well in university really shot up in my list of priorities and in a sense that’s probably one of the aspects in which becoming a dad has made me mature and grow up.M8

There has been a lot of sleepless nights and a lot of turning up to class late for different reasons than being hungover but it really has been a gift to me in my life and we are both very grateful that Zach is a happy, healthy baby. We would not have been able to do it without the great support that we have from both of our families and toward Zach, he was the first grandchild on both sides! for that we are eternally grateful. I am extremely excited to see what the future holds for Zach and for me whenever I graduate from University.


Matthew Johnston is a BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations final year student at Ulster University. He can be found on Facebook at: Matthew Johnston and on Linkedin at: 

Organisational Crisis in the Digital Age

In this day and age, there is an ever-growing need for organisations to pursue some sort of online presence to try and expand their ability to target and communicate with customers. Social media has accentuated this ability and thus has begun the age of instant communication to and from the once powerless consumer. Most organizations by now in 2017 have opted to dive straight into this deep ocean that is the online world in an attempt to stay relevant and keep up with the general consensus. This is often done without any strategical thinking, lacking in preparation when it comes to dealing with a crisis, probably because they think these reputation-destroying issues will never come knocking on their door. For the most part, the benefits of social media and the internet are undeniable but you’ve probably heard the term ‘any publicity is good publicity’. Well honestly, when you consider the power of the online world and mix it with an organisational crisis, that really isn’t true.

EPSON scanner image
EPSON scanner image

Nowadays both individuals and organizations are constantly being held accountable for what they said or did at absolutely any moment in time, it has forced all of these organisations to tread very carefully. It’s impossible for organisations to avoid some sort of negative publicity whenever they are going through a crisis. This is because these platforms simply don’t allow it, boohoo for the corporate. Citizen Journalists, Bloggers and Social media platforms eliminate the large organisation’s role as a gatekeeper in what information they distribute and want the public to receive. There is now a heavy spotlight constantly shining on these establishments and no longer can they simply influence the public the way they want to. For this reason, we see organisations implementing dedicated PR departments to handle the digital age and the package that comes with it.

These PR teams will work with the organization to establish an overview of how they want to be perceived by the general public and then simply strive to achieve that aim. Naturally, these aims for most organisations are displaying their organisation in a positive light. This for organisations involves constructing the right message and then correctly and efficiently disseminating the message where appropriate throughout different media relations. When it comes to an organisation suffering from a disastrous event that has the potential to ruin its public image, the PR professionals and department are tasked with deciding how they are going to not only handle the situation but also how they will repair the situation in the hope of reconstructing their message back to what it once was.

To prepare for a crisis, it is important to have a crisis management team, spokesperson and strategy already in place so that if or when it occurs they can implement the correct methods to overcome it straight away. Below I have highlighted different factors that need to be considered when in the midst of a crisis.

1. Address the perception of the crisis as often a crisis is not actually the extent of what something has occurred but more so the public’s perception of it.
2. Give thought to the people who are actually complaining. Anger hinders communication, to overcome an issue the public must first have their say.
3. Try and interpret the public’s mood and then focus on that emotional aspect personally rather than impersonally as a corporate organisation.
4. Always tell the truth, as we have pointed out that organisations are constantly in the spotlight. Lying will most likely lead to future issues, making the organisation worse off than before.
5. Take responsibility for what occurs, which coincides with telling the truth. This can be done by acknowledging what has occurred and announcing the issue is being addressed. In other words, apologise if you are in the wrong.
6. Stick with the professional aspect of your organisation, this will enable you to continuously strategically communicate a clear message.

(Don’t do this)



Public Relations departments have a significant role in the managing of a crisis, they often will experience three stages;

1. Advising on the incident before it becomes public, discussing the strategic approach that should be taken.
2. As the incident becomes public knowledge, they must identify the key audiences that need the most focus of communication.
3. Support the communication to the public following the incident by making support materials which may involve; questions and answers, statements, speeches etc.

This potential for a such a devastating crisis to hit an organisation can create a certain level of scepticism when it comes to the online aspect of a business. For this reason, it really is important that organisations not only prepare for it as if they are expecting it but also try and prevent it from happening in the first place. Crises have always been dangerous for the corporate world but that level of danger in the 21st century is seriously heightened. The durability of an organisation very much comes down to the strong ties that it holds with its publics, so the stronger these ties the more likely an organisation will be able to deal with a crisis and come out the other end with a fighting chance. For this reason, in my opinion organisations really should use social media and new media technologies to their advantage, prioritising and optimising their relations through the same very platforms that they can receive backlash.

When a crisis occurs for an organisation the question really isn’t are they going to suffer from negative exposure it is to what extent they are going to suffer. It’s important to note that when it does occur it really can seriously disrupt an organisation. An example of a crisis in recent years was United Airlines in April 2017.


A passenger on one of their flights was videoed being physically removed, in fact violently dragged from one of their aeroplanes all because they picked him out of a crowd to be removed from his seat because the flight was overbooked. The incident not only left the man bleeding from the face but also left him unconscious despite the man doing absolutely nothing apart from wanting to stay on the flight that he believed to have booked a seat on fair and square. The organisation received absolutely astonishing backlash on social media platforms with thousands claiming they will never use the airline again. Below is a graph which shows the stock of United Airlines crashing on the day of the incident.


They lost over $800 million in stock prices and whilst over the course of the next few months they gradually recovered from the crisis it highlights the power to which the online world has over large corporate organisations. Before the digital age of smart phones and social media, this incident would have been quickly buried.

See its really simple, just don’t be stupid enough to do something absolutely daft like United Airlines. No, I’m kidding it was a horrific situation and only confirms more that organisations should seriously take into consideration the methods they need to overcome such an event and make sure they are in place. This reason behind this is because, in reality there is probably thousands of United Airlines employees that would have handled that situation completely different and probably 100x better than these individuals did. You are unable to control every single person that you employ, for large organisations at least it is impossible and therefore you cannot determine when something like this will happen, for this reason it is important to plan for the worst. As Warren Buffet once said “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and 5 minutes to ruin it”


Matthew Johnson is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found on Facebook at: Matthew Johnston and on Linkedin at: