Don’t Assume When Planning Communications

Think older people don't go online? Think about this – if you were 30 years old and bought an original Apple computer in 1976, you would be 67 years old today. Plenty of time to get tech savvy.Where people get information about local news varies by age, but don’t assume one type of communication will work for each age group. Reviewing CFM research results for several clients shows that regardless of age, people use a variety of media sources to get information.

Assumption 1: Newspaper readership is for an older market.

Newspaper readership does increase with age. People age 55 years and older (84%) are more likely to read the newspaper than those under age 55 (63%), but a significant portion of all age groups still read the newspaper, including those age 18 to 34 (52%). When it comes to local news, newspapers are still top dog.

Assumption 2: Digital communication is for the younger market

Getting news online declines with age, but older residents are not computer illiterate. Websites and other online media are among the most important information sources for those age 18 to 34 year (53%), but one in four of those Medicare eligible go online for news.

Perhaps this puts digital media into perspective. Apple was founded in 1976. If you were age 30 and bought one of the first Apple computers, you would be 67 years old today. A lot of time to get computer savvy.

Assumption 3: Newsletters by mail are relics

It may seem old school, but postal patron newsletters are important, informative and effective communication tools — under the right circumstances. For school districts, it is an ideal way to reach residents who no longer, or never had, a connection with schools. A recent school district study found 60% of those age 55+ recall receiving a quarterly print newsletter, and 40% read it thoroughly.

Effective communications results from the sum of the communication tools used. There is no silver bullet solution. Communication plans should incorporate traditional and digital media to reach and impact all age groups.

Research results are based on phone and online surveys conducted by CFM Research among nearly 2,000 residents in various markets.