Burson Marsteller Message Gap

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  • 1. Evidence-Based Communications Global Message Gap Research
  • 2. Contents …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. • Overview & Methodology • Results • Insights • Using the Message Gap Analysis Tool BURSON-MARSTELLER EVIDENCE-BASED COMMUNICATIONS 2
  • 3. …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. Overview & Methodology BURSON-MARSTELLER EVIDENCE-BASED COMMUNICATIONS 3
  • 4. Blogs and other social media have shifted how companies’ messages are communicated …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. • While traditional/mainstream media is shrinking, bloggers and social media are growing in influence. • There are 200 million blogs and 73% of active online users have read a blog (Source: Blogpulse) • 44% of those online get news at least a few times a week through posts from social networking sites, automatic updates and emails. (Source: Pew Research) • 26% of Twitter users get their news from tweets. BURSON-MARSTELLER EVIDENCE-BASED COMMUNICATIONS 4
  • 5. In addition, the mainstream media landscape has been turned upside-down …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. What direct impact will cost cuts have on your editorial work? (Check all that apply)* • News content is still big, but journalism is getting smaller. This has caused a shift in the quality and quantity of editorial product: Fewer Less space/ Less time Less time to – Eight in 10 European journalists report meetings with sources time for editorial content to research attend press stories conferences/ events cost cutting at their publications, and 28% expect a reduction in editorial staff in the next year Has your workload increased since the – Now more than ever, speed trumps economic crisis started?* accuracy – Journalism-grade news is shrinking and aggregated raw content keeps expanding * Source: Burson-Marsteller EMEA Media Survey 2010, among 115 senior journalists from top-tier media organizations in 27 countries. BURSON-MARSTELLER EVIDENCE-BASED COMMUNICATIONS 5
  • 6. The result is a fractured and evolving media landscape …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. The fragmented, evolving and expanding media landscape means corporate messages and brands face: • Competing traffic • Distortion • Dilution As a result, corporate messages may not be represented in the media as the company intends. This evolution is widening the gap between the corporate and media message…but also provides opportunities to close this gap. BURSON-MARSTELLER EVIDENCE-BASED COMMUNICATIONS 6
  • 7. Methodology …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. • Burson-Marsteller conducted a Message Gap Analysis on 158 messages from 16 companies from the Financial Times Global 100 companies. - Four companies from each of the following regions: U.S., Latin America, EMEA and Asia-Pacific. • Key company messages reflected in the companies’ thought leadership, product service launches, corporate social responsibility work, etc., were compared against related company coverage in mainstream media sources and in influential blogs. - Mainstream media sources included both online and offline sources. - “Influential” bloggers are defined by high traffic and/or reader comments as indicators of influence. - Sources were both global and local media and bloggers (i.e., from the native country). • Data was collected between March and May 2010 by Burson-Marsteller’s global research team. BURSON-MARSTELLER EVIDENCE-BASED COMMUNICATIONS 7
  • 8. …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. Results BURSON-MARSTELLER EVIDENCE-BASED COMMUNICATIONS 8
  • 9. The Message Gap: Mainstream Media …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. • For our sample, the gap between the company’s message and the mainstream media message is 48%, meaning that almost half of the mainstream media message focus does not reflect the company message. The other 52% of the mainstream media content is consistent with the message presented by the company. 48% Gap Company Message Mainstream Media Message BURSON-MARSTELLER EVIDENCE-BASED COMMUNICATIONS 9
  • 10. The Message Gap: Mainstream Media by Region …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. • While the sample is small (four companies per region), data confirms a gap exists between company messages and related mainstream media messages around the globe. Greater longevity of the PR industry in the U.S. and Europe may explain the relatively lower gaps in these regions, where companies have more experience communicating through the media. Mainstream Media Global Gap: 48% Europe Gap: U.S. Gap: 40% 45% Asia-Pacific Gap: 58% Latin America Gap: 53% BURSON-MARSTELLER EVIDENCE-BASED COMMUNICATIONS 10
  • 11. The Message Gap: Bloggers by Region …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. • The gap between company messages and messages from bloggers is even greater than the gap with mainstream media. Bloggers more freely state opinions, personal experience, knowledge of competitors and products, and speculation, increasing the message gap. Blogger Global Gap: 69% Europe Gap: U.S. Gap: 59% 76% Asia-Pacific Gap: 63% Latin America Gap: 82% BURSON-MARSTELLER EVIDENCE-BASED COMMUNICATIONS 11
  • 12. Case 1: Music Download Service Launch by Mobile Device Company …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. Overview: A global mobile devices company launched an Company Message vs. unlimited download music service in China. Mainstream Media Message Gap Company Message v. Mainstream Media Message: 26% • For this product launch, the company focused on the localization and consumer benefits of their new download music service, as well as the company’s global leadership in 10% the space, and these messages were fairly well supported by mainstream media. Gap • Mainstream media, however, also focused more heavily on the detailed features of the service, specifically the 45% unlimited and free downloads. 64% What the analysis shows: The company communications should provide extensive details about product features (e.g., number of tracks available) to satisfy the mainstream media demand for this information. Demonstrate the competitive benefits of the product, as the media - and especially bloggers - tend to focus on comparing a range of competitive products, so it is advantageous to present the company’s product distinctly. BURSON-MARSTELLER EVIDENCE-BASED COMMUNICATIONS 12
  • 13. Case 2: Speaker Series from Global Oil Company Executive …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. Overview: A global oil company executive delivered a series of Company Message vs. speeches on the future of energy. Mainstream Media Message Gap Company Message v. Mainstream Media Message: 77% • In this oil company executive’s speeches, he focused on visionary concepts such as new “frontiers” to meet energy demand, but this concept was not reflected strongly in mainstream media. Industry-focused terms such as recovery rates and “iocs” 100% (international oil companies) were also not picked up by media. • Mainstream media were relatively more focused on the specific Gap growth of natural gas. They also discussed shale as a new natural gas source extensively, even though this executive did not 100% specifically mention shale in his speech. 91% What the analysis shows: Aspirational ideas such as “frontiers” are more likely to be picked up by media when connected to specific examples such as “shale,” which the company executive omitted from his speech. Instead journalists independently introduced “shale” into the conversation about energy. In addition, the executive should have used the more widely used phrase “international oil companies,” as “iocs” was too industry-specific to be used in the media. BURSON-MARSTELLER EVIDENCE-BASED COMMUNICATIONS 13
  • 14. Case 3: Thought Leadership About History of Beauty by Global Beauty Company …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. Overview: A global beauty company released a thought leadership Company Message vs. piece about the history of beauty. Blog Message Gap Company Message v. Blog Message: 64% • The company focused on the human, abstract and aspirational aspects of beauty (“sign of the times” and “the quest for beauty”), which were not extensively picked up by bloggers. 50% • However, bloggers were inspired to discuss the company’s hair and skin products, even though this was not the focus of the Gap thought piece. 75% What the analysis shows: Without directly mentioning its hair 72% and skin products, the company drove conversation in the blogs about its products. Thought leadership that resonates well with the brand will drive discussion about the company’s products and core identity. BURSON-MARSTELLER EVIDENCE-BASED COMMUNICATIONS 14
  • 15. Case 4: Recall of Children’s Product by Major Retailer …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. Overview: Following an investigative report by the media, a major Company Message vs. retailer announced it would immediately stop selling children’s Blog Message products that had very high levels of toxic materials. Gap 58% Company Message v. Blog Message: • The company discussed its own investigation and testing on the products and stressed that it was working with the 100% Consumer Product Safety Commission on the recall. Mainstream media echoed the company message and did not place the blame on the retailer, but bloggers did not address this. Gap • Instead, bloggers used the retailer’s situation as a jumping off 100% point to discuss the contamination of Chinese products in general. Bloggers also discussed the toxicity of the materials involved. 100% What the analysis shows: While the retailer’s message about its positive management of contaminated products was not reflected by bloggers, it was able to escape accusations from bloggers who were eager to vilify contaminated Chinese products. In directly addressing the contamination issue, the retailer prevented a potential crisis. BURSON-MARSTELLER EVIDENCE-BASED COMMUNICATIONS 15
  • 16. …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. Insights BURSON-MARSTELLER EVIDENCE-BASED COMMUNICATIONS 16
  • 17. Insight #1: “Aspirational” language needs to be supported by concrete facts and messages or it will be ignored …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. “Aspirational” language, such as a “prestige” brand, or a new “frontier,” or a “quest” for beauty, is more likely to be picked up by the media when tied to more concrete statements. Mainstream media and bloggers do not repeat these aspirational concepts extensively, and instead focus on the actual benefits of the new prestige brand (instead of its aspirational qualities), the technology which drives the new frontier and the research which fulfills the quest for beauty. Implication #1: Companies should clearly connect the use of aspirational/buzz phrases, with full descriptions of how the company fulfills that aspiration in a tactical way. Media is more likely to leverage the aspirational message if they have facts to support it. Implication #2: Aspirational language like “frontier” is more likely to be picked up by the media when delivered in a speech rather than other communications methods. These words are also more likely to be communicated as part of a direct quote rather than in the journalist’s writing. Implication #3: When a thought leadership message is well-tied to the company’s attributes and products, there is a “halo effect” where the media may initiate discussions about the company’s products without the company having to do so directly. For example, in the second example in this report, the global beauty company’s objective – to connect its thought leadership piece with its products – was successful based on the bloggers’ messages about the companies’ skin and hair products. Mainstream media also focused on the research-orientation of the company, which is a key company attribute. BURSON-MARSTELLER EVIDENCE-BASED COMMUNICATIONS 17
  • 18. Insight #2: Tell the whole story – or the media will tell it for you …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. Mainstream media, in an effort to present a holistic story, often includes specific details related to the story that the company has failed to provide. And, because the specific details may be from a non-company source, the message is not always aligned with the company view. The media is also likely to identify and quote critics for a different point of view, especially if there is potential controversy. Implication: Communicators should expect that journalists will attempt to present a 360- degree view of the story and anticipate and answer questions the media will have when writing the story. The company messages should include responses to these questions to clearly present the company position on potential issues that will arise. BURSON-MARSTELLER EVIDENCE-BASED COMMUNICATIONS 18
  • 19. Insight #3: Avoid jargon and make it accessible. …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. Companies often use terminology that is industry-specific or part of their company lexicon, but this terminology does not resonate with or is confusing to media and stakeholders. Mainstream media either ignores it, or, if they understand what the company intends to say, clarifies these confusing company messages. The media and bloggers use the relevant plain language to make things clear and familiar, even if the company does not. Implication: Organizations should take an Evidence-Based approach by testing communications through research among stakeholders or getting feedback from a third party before releasing. This should uncover industry-specific or confusing terminology. Without this testing, the company message may be ignored or improperly translated by journalists. BURSON-MARSTELLER EVIDENCE-BASED COMMUNICATIONS 19
  • 20. Insight #4: Press releases are being reprinted extensively, which affects the strategy for the communications professional …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. Many media outlets, including blogs, are reprinting press releases without adding any commentary*. As news organizations continue to shrink and online sources multiply, this may become more and more common. Implication: The evolution of mainstream media slightly shifts the strategy and provides opportunity for the PR function. Communicators must realize that the audience for press releases is no longer just the media, and their language must be appropriate for consumers, financial analysts, and other stakeholders, as well as media. Without journalistic editing, the company’s exact message will be printed, which lessens concern about media distortion. However, the company can no longer rely as heavily on the benefit of a journalist’s tailoring of the message to make it resonate with their specific audience based on the media outlet. Companies must be more cognizant about the ultimate viewer of the press release. *Repurposed press releases in mainstream and social media were not included in this study. BURSON-MARSTELLER EVIDENCE-BASED COMMUNICATIONS 20
  • 21. Insight #5: Bloggers are more likely to make comparisons to competitors and to speculate …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. Bloggers are more likely to generate a broad discussion that includes comparisons to competitors and competitive products. Many have a deep interest and expertise about the topics under discussion and are keen to educate others who share their interests. They are also more likely to speculate about the companies’ underlying intentions and strategy. Because bloggers are more likely to incorporate their own opinions and personal experiences and to bring in messages from multiple sources, there is less likelihood that the company’s message will get through. Implication: Communications professionals need to be aware of who is blogging about their content and how their messages are being presented in social media in general. Reaching out to bloggers and Twitterers where appropriate can foster a dialogue that enables the company to clarify its messages for bloggers and keep the communications on target. Also, monitoring, responding to and (re)tweeting bloggers’/Twitterers’ posts helps generate a dialogue and gives the company an opportunity to refine the social media message. Implication: As with mainstream journalists, anticipating and providing the information that bloggers may want to discuss, including comparisons to competitive offerings and broader issues can help the company position itself in the context that bloggers are likely to write about. BURSON-MARSTELLER EVIDENCE-BASED COMMUNICATIONS 21
  • 22. …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. Using the Message Gap Analysis Tool BURSON-MARSTELLER EVIDENCE-BASED COMMUNICATIONS 22
  • 23. Using the Message Gap Analysis …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. • Enables continuous measurement and prescriptive recommendations: Conducting a Message Gap Analysis helps the company quickly identify which messages are and are not getting through, and enables a swift response to clarify the company’s underlying purpose in its messaging. In some cases we reviewed, the Message Gap helps home in on the missing piece of the full message, and the company’s quick response helped answer the media, blogger and stakeholder questions and get the messages back on track. Using Message Gap Analysis techniques to continually monitor messaging can help the company keep messages on-point. • Quantifies the qualitative effectiveness of the messaging: Measuring the success of media is moving beyond hits and clips, and the Message Gap Analysis focuses on the quality of the message. By using data to compare the quality and essence of the company and media messages, the Message Gap Analysis uses metrics to quantify the message effectiveness, and to identify the disparity in messages. These metrics highlight the differences in company versus media messages and lead to recommendations about how to tweak and add to the message so it is on target. BURSON-MARSTELLER EVIDENCE-BASED COMMUNICATIONS 23
  • 24. Using the Message Gap Analysis, continued …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. • Is versatile: In comparing company messages with mainstream and social media messages, many questions are answered. Is the company using terms that are not being understood by journalists or stakeholders? Is our aspirational messaging getting lost, or is it well-grounded in our concrete messages? Is our thought leadership or CSR messaging creating a halo effect, and driving dialogue about our products? The analysis helps identify numerous potential problems with a company’s messages and leads to clear and specific direction about how to respond. BURSON-MARSTELLER EVIDENCE-BASED COMMUNICATIONS 24
  • 25. Contacts …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. United States Latin America Jennifer Graham Clary Claudia Gioia Chair, Global Technology Practice Managing Director & Practice Chair, Technology Burson-Marsteller San Francisco Burson-Marsteller Miami 415 591 4016 305 347 4347 jennifer.grahamclary@bm.com claudia.gioia@bm.com EMEA Asia-Pacific Chris Cartwright Cassandra Cheong Managing Director & Practice Chair, Technology Managing Director, Technology Burson-Marsteller London Burson-Marsteller Beijing 0207 300 6463 86 10 5816 2568 chris.cartwright@bm.com cassandra.cheong@bm.com BURSON-MARSTELLER EVIDENCE-BASED COMMUNICATIONS 25