Media, Myths & Realities is a comprehensive survey of media usage among consumers and communications professionals conducted by global public relations firm Ketchum and the University of Southern California Annenberg Strategic Public Relations Center released in Dec. 2007.
The report documents that word of mouth messaging –advice from family and friends–is the top source that consumers turn to when making a variety of decisions. Meanwhile, the study also finds that 24 percent of communicators have a word-of-mouth program in place. Bottom line: the way communicators dispense information is out of sync with the way consumers use media.
The report offers these key findings:
- Treat audiences as groupings of individuals rather than faceless masses. Relate to the public by creating content that is relevant, authentic, and engaging, and motivates consumers to share information with like-minded people.
- Put word-of-mouth and search-engine-optimization strategies in place or miss out on tremendous potential for audience reach and sales. Search engines (such as Google and Yahoo) rank No. 3 among all media channels in overall usage in the U.S. among influencers.
- Be wary of the communication flavor of the month. Be sure to stay on top of the latest research and avoid becoming reliant on any single communication technique regardless of how new or exciting it may seem. For example, usage of podcasts is registering in the single digit range with the exception of the 18-24 age group, which grew from 8 percent to 13 percent.
- A company’s own Web site should not be the primary choice when communicating to stakeholders. While a company Web site provides communicators with a high degree of control over their message, consumers often turn elsewhere for information.