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Analysis of News and Social Media
The Vulnerability of the Independent Workforce
Delivered August 5, 2016
Copyright ©2016 Cision. All rights reserved.2
Objectives
The Rockefeller Foundation would like to better understand how
th...
Copyright ©2016 Cision. All rights reserved.3
Approach
• English-language searches were constructed to capture news
and so...
Copyright ©2016 Cision. All rights reserved.4
0
200
400
600
800
1000
1200
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1600
0
5,000
10,000
15,000
20,000
25,000
30...
Copyright ©2016 Cision. All rights reserved.5
2. Niches within the independent workforce have been found
with varying perc...
Copyright © 2016 Cision. All rights reserved.6
Coverage in Mainstream News Media and Blogs
Copyright ©2016 Cision. All rights reserved.7
0
10,000
20,000
30,000
40,000
50,000
60,000
Jul-15 Sep-15 Nov-15 Jan-16 Mar-...
Copyright ©2016 Cision. All rights reserved.8
Coverage outlined how the independent workforce differed from full
time empl...
Copyright ©2016 Cision. All rights reserved.9
Coverage was largely positive in tone, with many stories citing
research tha...
Copyright © 2016 Cision. All rights reserved.10
Social Media Channel Analysis
Copyright © 2016 Cision. All rights reserved.11
Increased engagement in forum discussion on BabyCenter and
CityData contri...
Copyright © 2016 Cision. All rights reserved.12
Finding Work
Income
Tips
News Sharing
Resume
Flexibility
Networking
Sites
...
Copyright © 2016 Cision. All rights reserved.13
The importance of particular topics varied by audience, with SBOs prioriti...
Copyright © 2016 Cision. All rights reserved.14
Audience Profiles
Recent graduates over-indexed on
more than half of the m...
Copyright © 2016 Cision. All rights reserved.15
20%
Finding
Work
2x
Flexibility
15%
General
Worry
2x
Loneliness
13%
Income...
Copyright © 2016 Cision. All rights reserved.16
Retirees were focused on income, often leveraging independent work to supp...
Copyright © 2016 Cision. All rights reserved.17
35%
Finding
Work
3x
Additive
Work
25%
Sharing
Tips
3x
Resume
20%
General
W...
Copyright © 2016 Cision. All rights reserved.18
SBOs were likely to look to others for tips or advice or ask questions abo...
Copyright ©2016 Cision. All rights reserved.19
Contact Us
Account Team
Your Account Team is your primary point of contact ...
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Cision Study: Gig Economy Media Reporting Disconnected from Worker Reality

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Media coverage of America’s independent workers leans more positively than the conversation that actual workers have on social media, a new media analysis by Cision has found. The analysis found that while the media discusses growth in the independent workforce and its benefits for employers, workers discuss the difficulty in finding work, fears about their retirement and even loneliness.

To learn more about Cision software, visit Cision.com.

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Cision Study: Gig Economy Media Reporting Disconnected from Worker Reality

  1. 1. Analysis of News and Social Media The Vulnerability of the Independent Workforce Delivered August 5, 2016
  2. 2. Copyright ©2016 Cision. All rights reserved.2 Objectives The Rockefeller Foundation would like to better understand how the independent workforce is covered in mainstream media and discussed in social channels to better understand media perception around the topic and obtain key findings to inform strategy, and drive tactical decisions. Specifically: • How is the independent workforce covered in mainstream news and blogs? • What themes emerge organically in coverage and online discussion? • What influential voices surface in news and online discussion? • How has discussion and coverage shifted over the past year? • How do independent workers feel about their shift to working for themselves? • Are there particular audience profiles that surface in discussion that warrant further research? About this Report
  3. 3. Copyright ©2016 Cision. All rights reserved.3 Approach • English-language searches were constructed to capture news and social conversation related to the independent workforce in the US. • For news and blog content, the searches captured references to the independent workforce at large. • Searches for the social media analysis leveraged first person qualifiers to ensure that the queries returned personal accounts of members of the independent workforce to help analyze the voice of this group. • A 1% sample of Twitter discussion was used for the analysis as comprehensive historic data was not available for collection. • LexisNexis data was included in the analysis of overall news and blog content, but was not included in the analysis of topic and tone. Reporting Time Period • July 1 2015 through June 30,2016 About this Report (continued)
  4. 4. Copyright ©2016 Cision. All rights reserved.4 0 200 400 600 800 1000 1200 1400 1600 0 5,000 10,000 15,000 20,000 25,000 30,000 35,000 40,000 45,000 Neutral Negative Positive The Independent Workforce At-A-Glance Negative Discussion Drivers Among Independent Workers 10% Taxes 9% General Worry 7% Insurance 4% Asking Questions 3% Unemployment 1% Not Earning Enough 1% Loneliness 1% Hourly Rate <1% Additive Work Volume Tone of News/MSM and Blog Coverage Audience Segmentation SOV 0 2,000 4,000 6,000 8,000 10,000 12,000 14,000 16,000 Parents Retirees Recent Grad SBO PostVolume 5% 3% 1% 11% VolumeofNeutralToneArticles/Posts VolumeofPositiveorNegativeToneArticles/Posts 541K posts from news/MSM and blogs 132K posts from social media channels
  5. 5. Copyright ©2016 Cision. All rights reserved.5 2. Niches within the independent workforce have been found with varying perceptions, fears and affinities • Recent graduates and small business owners were two audiences that over-indexed on the prevalence of discussion about not earning enough; twice as high as compared to total independent workers. • Parents expressed concerns about loneliness and isolation twice as often as other groups of independent workers • Retirees most often discussed their income, a need to look for work and had frequent questions about taxes and their retirement plans. Key Findings 1. There was a disconnect between news coverage of the independent workforce and the voice of independent workers on social media channels. • Media coverage leaned positive: Article cited statistics, growth in number of works and evidence the group succeeded financially • Social media discussion more negative: Workers shared both the pros and cons, as well as tips on taxes, insurance and conversation about general worry which surface in one quarter of all discussions • News media focused on the benefits for business, while social media focused on people looking for work.
  6. 6. Copyright © 2016 Cision. All rights reserved.6 Coverage in Mainstream News Media and Blogs
  7. 7. Copyright ©2016 Cision. All rights reserved.7 0 10,000 20,000 30,000 40,000 50,000 60,000 Jul-15 Sep-15 Nov-15 Jan-16 Mar-16 May-16 Industry reports discussing the growth and size of the independent workforce contributed to upticks in coverage Independent Worker Coverage on News and Blogs Trend Over Time Coverage about independent workers peaked in July 2015 and did not reach the same level of news/MSM attention again until May 2016. Upticks in coverage included: a) Jul ‘15: Peak discussion occurred in July, boosted by coverage on FinancialContent, and BizJournals discussing estimates that contractors will account for 40% of the workforce by 2020 and stories discussing the demand for freelancers continues to increase as employers look for ways to decrease overhead costs and streamline operations. b) Sep’15: Independent workforce coverage increased, boosted by stories related to the release of MBO Partners results from the fifth annual study on the American independent workforce. c) Oct’15:A report authored by Freelancers Union and Upwork shared insights about the independent workforce and sized the group at an estimate 54M workers in the US. d) May’16: LA Times coverage related to SuperShuttle suing California to classify workers as contractors instead of employees. VolumeofArticles/Posts a b c d
  8. 8. Copyright ©2016 Cision. All rights reserved.8 Coverage outlined how the independent workforce differed from full time employees and the impact this distinction had for employers Mainstream News Media and Blog Discussion Drivers • Coverage often included explanations and differentiation around topics like pay, services provided and considered factors like contracts, taxes and benefits. • Stories about lawsuits also surface, largely between companies and the state, maintaining that their workers were independent contractors and not full time employees in order to avoid providing the benefits associated with full time employment (etc. insurance, paid time off). • Topics like taxes showed an increase in coverage in March and April as filing deadlines approached. • Similarly, peaks in insurance coverage occurred in November and December, when many providers have open enrollment for employees. 7% 7% 8% 8% 8% 8% 9% 10% 11% 12% 14% 15% 16% 18% 20% 22% 22% 27% 27% 37% traditional independent contractors taxes freelancers uber hire demand insurance temporary self employed contract benefits income employment companies according services jobs pay business
  9. 9. Copyright ©2016 Cision. All rights reserved.9 Coverage was largely positive in tone, with many stories citing research that indicated the group was thriving financially Mainstream News Media and Blog: Tone • Positive coverage peaked in August, boosted by a BizJournal story highlighting the benefits of hiring freelancers as an employer. • Another notable increase in positive coverage occurred in February, related to New York City's consideration of legal protection for freelancers who suffer wage theft. • Litigation news contributed to negative stories about the independent workforce, most notably between Uber’s appeal of The California Labor Commission that it’s drivers should be considered employees. • News in November also included coverage that sharing economy startups from Silicon Valley have written a letter asking that freelancers, like any worker, should be offered an affordable solution for healthcare, insurance and retirement. 0 200 400 600 800 1000 1200 1400 1600 0 5000 10000 15000 20000 25000 30000 35000 40000 45000 Neutral Negative Positive VolumeofNeutralToneArticles/Posts VolumeofPositiveorNegativeToneArticles/Posts
  10. 10. Copyright © 2016 Cision. All rights reserved.10 Social Media Channel Analysis
  11. 11. Copyright © 2016 Cision. All rights reserved.11 Increased engagement in forum discussion on BabyCenter and CityData contributed to upticks in buzz in the last year Independent Workers Social Media Discussion Trend Over Time Upticks in social media discussion included: a) Aug ‘15: Driven by forum discussion on BabyCenter. The most active threads discussed undocumented immigrants in political Jobs to tips on working at home and advice on tax withholdings for stay at home moms. b) Jan ‘16: Conversation on BabyCenter as community members asked others to weigh in on “Where Can I cut and what is a priority?” Discussion included the ebb and flow of income for freelance work, and trying to mitigate fixed expenses and weigh the need for expenses on items like life insurance. CityData discussion focused on a thread called “Many Find Life Cheaper Without Obamacare” as well as weighting the benefits of being an employee vs. independent contractor. c) Mar ‘16: CityData discussion contributed to increased volume in March, boosted by engagement on threads discussing, the best part time or free lance opportunities during retirement, how to find a part time job, contesting independent contractor status and temp jobs positioned as “temp to hire.” PostVolume a b c 0 10,000 20,000 30,000 40,000 50,000 60,000 70,000 80,000 90,000 Jul-15 Sep-15 Nov-15 Jan-16 Mar-16 May-16
  12. 12. Copyright © 2016 Cision. All rights reserved.12 Finding Work Income Tips News Sharing Resume Flexibility Networking Sites Gig Economy Taxes General Worry Insurance Asking Questions/Advice Unemployment Not Earning Enough Loneliness Hourly Rate Additive Income Some independent workers missed having colleagues, insurance benefits and voiced frustration with setting and justifying rates Social Discussion Tone & Drivers • The discussion drivers that surfaced within social discussion for independent workers were evenly divided in tone, with half yielding positive social net sentiment scores while the other half leaned negative in tone overall. • Positive discussion was driven by individuals sharing news about their growing freelance opportunities or diversifying skill sets to find more opportunities. Of note, the most widely discussed topic among independent workers, finding work did skew positive in tone overall. • Negative conversation included: • confusion around filing for taxes and tax withholdings • general worry about earning enough income to make ends meet • concerns about not having standard insurance benefits (health, dental, life) • missing the collaboration and interaction with coworkers (loneliness) • difficulty setting and having to justify hourly rates Positive Discussion Drivers Negative Discussion Drivers <1% 1% 1% 3% 3% 7% 9% 12% 16% <1% 1% 1% 1% 3% 4% 7% 9% 10% *Please note that discussion drivers were grouped as positive or negative based on the net sentiment score for the topic.
  13. 13. Copyright © 2016 Cision. All rights reserved.13 The importance of particular topics varied by audience, with SBOs prioritizing sharing tips and asking questions above other groups Discussion Drivers Several distinct voices emerged within independent worker discussion, specifically: parents, retirees, recent graduates and small business owners (11%, 5%, 3% and 1% of independent worker social discussion respectively). • While many of the discussion drivers ranked of similar importance across audiences, there were a few notable differences that emerged. • Not surprising, SBOs did not rank finding work of top importance like other audiences, given that this group owned their own business. • For SBOs, income ranked most important. • Recent grads and SBOs were more likely to discuss tips and look for advice on finding employment. • General worry about employment was more prevalent in conversation among parents, recent grads and SBOs.
  14. 14. Copyright © 2016 Cision. All rights reserved.14 Audience Profiles Recent graduates over-indexed on more than half of the most prominent discussion drivers • Some audiences were more likely to discuss particular topics than compared to total independent workers. • Recent grads were nearly four times as likely as independent workers overall to discuss taking on additive work, meaning a freelance or contract job opportunity in addition to their current full time or part time job. Topic Parent Retirees Recent Grad SBO Finding Work 124 133 221 0 Income 115 243 139 167 Taxes 67 206 90 0 Tips 114 116 270 144 General Worry 169 121 215 128 News Sharing 108 123 220 0 Insurance 145 229 154 0 Asking Questions 92 97 209 131 Flexibility 218 183 163 156 Resume 63 76 369 83 Unemployment 88 194 220 0 Not Earning Enough 149 158 251 241 Loneliness 211 128 204 115 Networking 76 119 273 188 Sites 11 26 68 217 Hourly Rate 56 123 151 283 Additive Work 173 117 396 179 Gig Economy 20 130 51 800 *Please note orange shaded boxes represent a score notably above index.
  15. 15. Copyright © 2016 Cision. All rights reserved.15 20% Finding Work 2x Flexibility 15% General Worry 2x Loneliness 13% Income 11% Sharing Tips 10% Insurance Parents valued the flexibility independent work offered, but were twice as likely to express feelings of loneliness Parents • Some of the top discussion drivers among parents were topics that generally leaned positive in tone, such a finding work, income and sharing tips and advice about independent work. • Some parents discussed moving from a full time position to a contract position at the same company following the birth of a child. Other parents were on Etsy or similar sites, selling handmade goods as supplemental income. • Parents were twice as likely to discuss the flexibility of their schedule, and appreciated the ability to organize their days around family commitments and childcare schedules. • Negative conversation among parents included general expressions of worry and stress, feeling overwhelmed about trying to manage hectic schedules. • The lack of insurance benefits was another pain point that surfaced among the five most discussed topics for this group. • Parents were also twice as likely to express feelings of loneliness with their work situation. Some mentioned that they missed having colleagues to collaborate with or just having day to day interactions with. Top Discussion Drivers Top Indexing Topics
  16. 16. Copyright © 2016 Cision. All rights reserved.16 Retirees were focused on income, often leveraging independent work to supplement retirement budget or offset unforeseen expenses Retirees 28% Income 2x Income 21% Finding Work 2x Insurance 21% Taxes 2x Taxes 16% Insurance 11% General Worry Top Discussion Drivers Top Indexing Topics • As an audience, retirees were focused on making sure their finances were in order to ensure sufficient income to cover expenses without working. Many, however, discussed independent work to help offset unforeseen medical expenses or to supplement a lean retirement budget. • Three of the top 5 discussion drivers among retirees were topics that all leaned negative in tone: taxes, insurance and general worry. Retirees were twice as likely to discuss taxes and insurance as independent workers overall. • Chief tax concerns included questions about tax deductions, 1099 forms and IRAs.
  17. 17. Copyright © 2016 Cision. All rights reserved.17 35% Finding Work 3x Additive Work 25% Sharing Tips 3x Resume 20% General Worry 2x Networking 16% Income 2x Sharing Tips 16% News Sharing 2x Not Earning Enough Top Discussion Drivers Top Indexing Topics • The audience was more likely to discuss resumes, considering how to best position independent or freelance work, and twice as likely to discuss strategies for networking. • Recent graduates were motivated in their search for employment, with sharing tips and advice on how to find jobs (full time and independent work) surfacing in one quarter of buzz among the group. • They also actively shared or discussed articles about the gig economy and independent work on social channels like Twitter and Facebook. • Recent graduates were more than three times as likely as independent workers generally to take on work or projects in addition to current full time and part time employment as the audience was eager to have supplemental income. • While many top discussion drivers for the audience leaned positive in tone, negative conversation for this group included general anxiety and worry about finding work and concerns about not being able to earn enough to pay their bills, surfacing twice as likely as independent workers overall. More than one third of discussion among recent grads focused on finding work Recent Graduates
  18. 18. Copyright © 2016 Cision. All rights reserved.18 SBOs were likely to look to others for tips or advice or ask questions about topics important to them, like income and hourly rates Small Business Owners 19% Income 2x Hourly rate 13% Sharing Tips 2x Not Earning Enough 12% General Worry 2x Sites 6% Asking Question 5% Flexibility Top Discussion Drivers Top Indexing Topics • SBOs were twice as likely to discuss hourly rates than total independent workers. This conversation included questions to other independent workers about what factors they took into consideration to help set rates or provide quotes on projects. • They were also more likely to discuss freelancer sites like Elance or Upwork, noting positive or negative experiences trying to outsource or subcontract business through these sites. • Like recent graduates, SBOs were also twice as likely to talk about their worries about not earning enough income to make ends meet or relay that they were struggling to make a living.
  19. 19. Copyright ©2016 Cision. All rights reserved.19 Contact Us Account Team Your Account Team is your primary point of contact for implementation and ongoing account management: • Lauren Weiss, Major Account Executive, lauren.weiss@cision.com Insight Services The Insight Services team produces custom reports and deliverables. • Caitlin Jamali, Senior Insights Analyst, caitlin.jamali@cision.com • Mathilda Joubert, Vice President of Cision Global Insights, mathilda.joubert@cision.com About Cision Cision is a leading global media intelligence company, serving the complete workflow of today’s communications, social media and content marketing professionals. Offering the industry’s most comprehensive PR and social software, rich analytics and a Global Insights team, Cision enables clients to improve their marketing and strengthen data-driven decision making. Cision also represents the Gorkana Group, PRWeb, Help a Reporter Out (HARO) and iContact brands. Headquartered in Chicago, Cision has over 100,000 customers worldwide and maintains offices in Canada, U.K., France, Germany, Portugal, Sweden, Finland and China. For more information, visit www.cision.com or follow @Cision on Twitter

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