As Telephone Surveys Fade, Online Research Remains an Option

Fewer Americans are willing to answer their phones to participate in telephone public opinion surveys, which poses a big problem for political operatives who use results to fashion campaign strategies. As pollsters scramble for alternatives, online research stands out as a viable and valuable option.

Fewer Americans are willing to answer their phones to participate in telephone public opinion surveys, which poses a big problem for political operatives who use results to fashion campaign strategies. As pollsters scramble for alternatives, online research stands out as a viable and valuable option.

Telephone surveys have been the gold standard for public opinion polling for decades. That’s about to change.

(Reposted from May 21, 2019)

(Reposted from May 21, 2019)

“Fewer Americans than ever are willing to pick up the phone and talk to pollsters, sending costs skyrocketing to roughly double what they were four years ago,” writes Steven Shepard on Politico.

Pollster Scott Keeter told fellow pollsters recently that telephone surveys are in “wheezing condition” and efforts to find a suitable replacement are like “a great party on the deck of the Titanic.”

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These sober assessments about the ill health of public opinion polling come on the eve of the 2020 presidential election and have many political operatives scrambling to find sources of reliable information on which to base campaign strategies. 

The slow fade of telephone surveys isn’t really news. CFM’s resident researcher, Tom Eiland, explains, “Challenges with phone surveys started with the use of caller ID and voice mail, then Do Not Call lists and really accelerated with the use of cell phones and smartphones.”  

“Telephone surveys have been a great tool that produced high-confidence findings when representative samples were achieved,” Eiland says. “However, telephone use has gone digital and polling has to adjust to that reality.”

Eiland noted CFM’s research sample designs adapted as respondent behavior changed. 

For general population and voter surveys, Eiland recommends using multi-modal sample designs. “This entails using a combination of telephone interviews and online web-based surveys,” he explained. Telephone numbers and email addresses are acquired from trusted third-party vendors to make the combined sample random.

“The trick,” Eiland said, “is to use sample quotas for demographic characteristics, such as age, gender and area, to ensure survey participants are representative of the community.”

 

Millennials Pose Unique Marketing Challenges – And Familiar Ones

Millennials, as children of the digital era, pose unique marketing challenges. However, you are more likely to engage them with online video ads and social media with videos. That said, it never hurts to know you target audience and recognize they are a moving target.

Millennials, as children of the digital era, pose unique marketing challenges. However, you are more likely to engage them with online video ads and social media with videos. That said, it never hurts to know you target audience and recognize they are a moving target.

(Reposted from May 14, 2019)

(Reposted from May 14, 2019)

Millennials are a moving target, so it helps to understand as much as you can about their demographics. Salesforce did the homework for you.  https://www.salesforce.com/products/marketing-cloud/best-practices/millenial-marketing-strategy/#

Millennials are a moving target, so it helps to understand as much as you can about their demographics. Salesforce did the homework for you. https://www.salesforce.com/products/marketing-cloud/best-practices/millenial-marketing-strategy/#

Marketing to Millennials is admittedly a challenge. They are as interested in car-sharing as car-buying. Owning a home is less important than being close to the action. They don’t read newspapers or watch commercial television. Their choice of channels seems to change regularly.

To get a better handle on Millennials, a real estate company commissioned a survey and discovered online video advertising is the best vehicle to engage this target audience. Not exactly a eureka moment, but it does confirm – at least for now – that online video still holds appeal.

Online video ads are not a silver bullet. According to the survey, 21 percent of the 1,100 Millennials interviewed said they engage with online video ads, contrasted to only 11 percent of people 39 years or older. Fourteen percent of Millennial respondents said they engage with social media ads with videos.

It’s worth noting, the survey indicated 31 percent of Millennial respondents say they don’t engage with online ads. More than four in 10 older adults say the same thing. That suggests Millennials are simply hard to engage with ads anywhere online.

What the survey underscores is the value of visual content. The second highest source of online engagement (17%) is social media ads with pictures. They attract the highest percentage (14%) of older adults, too.

Search engine ads work better to engage older adults (12%) than Millennials (9%). Display ads on websites and native ads don’t work that well with younger or older adults, based on survey results.

Tommy O’Shaughnessy of Clever Real Estate, which commissioned the survey, says, “In many ways, YouTube has assumed the functional role of television for Millennials. According to an eMarketer study, Millennials watch more digital video than traditional video content, making YouTube an incredibly important tool for marketers.”

He adds, “While Facebook is still the dominant social media platform and reaches the widest audience, the preferences of younger Millennials have begun shifting toward YouTube and Instagram, where video content is more readily available and more fundamental to the experience. However, despite the recent Millennial migration away from Facebook, ads run on the social networking megalith are still more likely to lead to a purchase than ads run on any other platform.” The migration of Millennials from Facebook appears to be tied to growing concerns about its privacy policies.

One nugget buried in the survey is that Millennials are 54 percent more likely than older adults to buy a product suggested by a social media celebrity. That may be the byproduct of older adult unfamiliarity with most social media celebrities.

It may not set apart Millennials from other adults, but the survey underscores they like to laugh and learn at the same time. “Marketing campaigns that provide value to their audience through funny and informative video content stand the best chance of engaging their viewers,” O’Shaughnessy says. “Humorous content is the most likely to strike a chord with millennials (44%), while informative content comes in second (30%).”

“Amusing and informative advertisements elicit good responses from Millennials and Baby Boomers, with the latter demonstrating a slight preference for informative ads,” he explains. “However, marketers need to exercise caution when trying to grab their audience’s attention with a shocking ad, as these performed abysmally across both generations – only 4% of Millennials and 3% of Baby Boomers stated that unsettling ads resonate with them.”

While Millennials, children of the digital age, pose unique marketing challenges, they are still part of the human race. “Although this generation has its idiosyncrasies, Millennial marketing is not such a hard nut to crack,” O’Shaughnessy argues. “Millennials crave content that feels valuable, honest, personal and sticks out from the rest of their feeds. The best way to accomplish this is to create video marketing campaigns that utilize influencers and provide funny, informative content to a brand’s audience.”

 

Market Research as a Key to Managerial Decision-Making

Market research provides valuable insights for marketing, but it also can fill in a portrait of corporate performance from a consumer viewpoint that can inform managerial decision-making.

Market research provides valuable insights for marketing, but it also can fill in a portrait of corporate performance from a consumer viewpoint that can inform managerial decision-making.

Quality market research is as important to management as it is to marketing. Research findings convey meaningful information about a brand’s reputation, its market position and consumer profiles that are critical to effective management strategy.

(Reposted from April 9, 2019)

(Reposted from April 9, 2019)

Market research provides qualitative insights into how a company is performing, which can be as valuable as quantitative data and help avoid a strictly green-eyeshade perspective on a business. Numbers don’t lie, but they also don’t tell the whole story.

Management attention to market research offers a vein of information unavailable from a spreadsheet. The numbers may show you are losing money; market research may give you a window into why.

For a brand wallowing in failure, pages of data won’t reveal how to succeed. Market research might. If your customers are the heart of your brand, checking their pulse would be a direct way to chart the way back to sales and profitability.

Employee morale can be a blind spot for data-driven research. No set of numbers can accurately depict how a workforce relates to the brand it represents. Market research can identify lackluster employee support as an impediment to marketplace success. It also can uncover employee insights, based on first-hand contact with consumers and influencers, into how the brand can succeed.

One of the most dangerous dimensions of management is lighthouse decision-making. Top management is supposed to show the way and stay off the rocks. However, locked up in a towering precipice, managers can be isolated from emerging trends and new realities.

It is not a knock on data to say it is a stick-figure picture of the health of a business. Market research can add flesh to the stick-figure statistics that paint a fuller picture of corporate health and opportunity.

Good managerial decision-making should not be muzzled by biased views of market research, which can reveal more than the seasonal color preferences or the latest toy sensations. Managers should settle for nothing less than robust research findings, from as many and as varied sources as possible.

Knowing where your customers are headed can be as instructive as where your investors want to go. Savvy investors will want to know as much about your brand’s customer journey as they do about your return on investment. Both are important. Both are interrelated. 

Multi-faceted research delivers a more comprehensive picture of business performance and opportunity. Why settle for a segmented view based on data or a focus group when you can have a composite picture of your business? Problems are complex. Research should be complex, too.

 

 

Lessons We Learned from 50 Years of The Godfather

Few films of any generation have had the lasting impact as  The Godfather , which turns 50 this year. Amid all the violence, crime and intrigue, the movie conveys phrases and life lessons that have become everyday expressions and bedrock beliefs for many Americans.

Few films of any generation have had the lasting impact as The Godfather, which turns 50 this year. Amid all the violence, crime and intrigue, the movie conveys phrases and life lessons that have become everyday expressions and bedrock beliefs for many Americans.

The Godfather turns 50 this year, which is a reminder of how influential the trilogy has been, even though it tracks the lives and travails of a mobster family. 

Phrases derived from The Godfather such as “an offer you can’t refuse,” “it’s not personal, it’s business” and “time to hit the mattresses” have become everyday expressions. But the movie’s influence runs deeper to life lessons about power, family and even capitalism, according to Iris Milanova. “It has so much substance, and it offers some very important life lessons. That’s certainly an offer you can’t refuse.”

(Reposted from March 11, 2019)

(Reposted from March 11, 2019)

Here are some of the life lessons Milanova identified:

  • Don’t make promises you cannot keep. Your word is the most important thing that you have to offer.

  • Don’t involve yourself in other people’s personal lives. “Sonny, don’t get involved,” advised Carmela Corleone.

  • Family is the most important thing in life. “A man who doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real man,” says Don Vito Corleone.

  • Don’t go against your own family. “Fredo, you’re my older brother and I love you. But don’t you ever go against the family again. Ever.” – Michael Corleone.

  • Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer. Always keep a watchful eye on your enemies and play life’s game of chess with precision, dedication and tact.

  • Establish friendships out of respect, business and trust. “Friendship is everything. Friendship is more than talent. It is more than the government. It is almost the equal of family.” – Don Vito Corleone.

  • Violence is the last option. “I don’t like violence, Tom. I’m a businessman. Blood is a big expense.” – Solozzo.

  • Build a powerful community. “Someday, and that day may never come, I’ll call upon you to do a service for me.” – Don Vito Corleone.

  • Don’t take things too personal. “it’s not personal, it’s business.” – Michael Corleone. 

Francis Ford Coppola gained fame by directing the three Godfather films, which he readily admitted “made me,” not the reverse.

Francis Ford Coppola gained fame by directing the three Godfather films, which he readily admitted “made me,” not the reverse.

Francis Ford Coppola, who directed The Godfather movies, wrote a new introduction to Mario Puzo’s novel to mark its 50th anniversary. One of his more interesting observations is that many of the life lessons espoused by Don Vito Corleone were actual expressions Puzo heard from his own mother.

“Mario told me that all of the great dialogue, those quotable lines he put into the mouth of Don Corleone, were actually spoken by Mario’s mother. Yes, ‘an offer he can’t refuse,’ ‘keep your friends close but your enemies closer,’ ‘revenge is a dish that tastes best cold,’ and ‘a real man takes care of his family,’ among many others, were sayings he heard from his own mother’s lips. Mario later wrote, ‘Whenever the Godfather opened his mouth, in my own mind I heard the voice of my mother. I heard her wisdom, her ruthlessness, and her unconquerable love for her family and life itself. Don Corleone’s courage and loyalty came from her, his humanity came from her.’”

Coppola revealed it was his sister who suggested the idea that Kay, Michael Corleone’s long suffering wife, would abort their unborn son. “I loved it because it seemed symbolic and the only way a woman married to such a man could halt the satanic dance continuing generation after generation.”

Many films are unforgettable and have intergenerational appeal. The Godfather is that rare cultural phenomenon that became part of our lives for 50 years – and counting. To turn Michael Corleone’s phrase, “It’s not business, it’s personal.”

 

PR Industry Must Embrace Integrity to Boost Reputation

A new Gallup poll shows the reputation of the PR and advertising industry just above drug companies and below oil and gas companies. It will take a strong dose of integrity for communicators to elevate public trust in what they do.

A new Gallup poll shows the reputation of the PR and advertising industry just above drug companies and below oil and gas companies. It will take a strong dose of integrity for communicators to elevate public trust in what they do.

A new Gallup poll reveals the reputation of the public relations and advertising industry is just a nudge above the reputations of drug companies, healthcare organizations and the federal government. It ranks lower than the oil and gas industry and lawyers.

PR professionals are seen by many as flacks, spin doctors and fixers, not as trusted communicators, honest brokers and problem-solvers. TV portrayals of PR professionals feed the negative stereotype of the industry. The performance of recent presidential press secretaries hasn’t helped.

PR Week addresses the reputation issue in a recent blog that quoted Kim Sample, president of the PR Council. "It should be our moment in the sun, but we don’t grab it. We believe PR can solve the world’s biggest problems, and we need to talk about that more. The council has to take some responsibility and work to set the record straight on the good the industry does."

Talking about the good work PR professionals perform in support of critical social causes won’t be enough to overcome perceptions that some – and certainly too much – PR fudges the truth.

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It would help if the PR industry talked more about its Code of Ethics and policed its own ranks when there are cases of misconduct such as intentional inaccuracy, misleading claims and faithless public responsibility. It also would help if the PR industry demanded authenticity and verification as steps to greater public trust.

The Code, maintained by the Public Relations Society of America, says in part: “We serve the public interest by acting as responsible advocates for those we represent. We provide a voice in the marketplace of ideas, facts and viewpoints to aid informed public debate. We adhere to the highest standards of accuracy and truth in advancing the interests of those we represent and in communicating with the public.” Action, of course, speaks louder than words. 

The perception of PR and advertising isn’t all bad. The poll shows 34 percent of respondents hold a negative view of the industry compared to 33 percent with a positive view and 32 percent with a neutral view. The problem isn’t just the -1 percent net negative perception. The problem is a general lack of trust for an industry that is evolving into one of the major sources of information for the public.

Current data suggests there are now six PR professionals for every journalist. Spoon-fed public releases and manicured public statements have become staples in news coverage for reporters who lack the time, resources and editorial support to dig into stories independently. 

As news operations continue to shrink, this dynamic will increase, not decrease. That puts even greater responsibility on the PR industry to act in the greater public interest, which can include standing up to clients who push to trim the truth or whitewash the facts.

Persistent attacks about – and by – “fake news” have contributed to growing public suspicion and sent more people scurrying to their comfort bubbles to get “information.” PR and advertising professionals must be mindful of this trend and avoid exacerbating polarization as they target audiences with messaging. Legitimate PR and advertising firms also must distinguish themselves from real “fake news” sources.

Integrity in communications and advocacy is the key to regaining public trust. Without integrity, the PR and advertising industry will continue to wallow on the bottom of the industrial reputation ranks.

Integrity requires more than doing your own job. It also requires calling out bad actors. The public will notice when the PR profession points the finger at dissembling, disinformation and fact-denial. PR pros need to get out of their own comfort zones and look at the larger picture of their profession and look at their responsibility to the public.

Where the PR and advertising industry rank on an annual poll is irrelevant to where the industry ranks in the minds of the general, news-consuming public. It’s never too early to make a positive impression.

Gary Conkling Image.jpg

Gary Conkling is principal and co-founder of CFM Strategic Communications, and he leads the firm's PR practice, specializing in crisis communications. He is a former journalist, who later worked on Capitol Hill and represented a major Oregon company. But most importantly, he’s a die-hard Ducks fan. You can reach Gary at garyc@cfmpdx.com and you can follow him on Twitter at @GaryConkling.

 

Seismic Demographic Shifts Contribute to Rising Racial Animus

Pew Research has updated its demographic report that shows racial and ethnic minorities are continuing to grow and there are now around 300 nonwhite-majority counties in America, most of which are located in the Southwest from Texas to California. Virtually none are in the stretch of America from the Ohio Valley to the Pacific Northwest.

Pew Research has updated its demographic report that shows racial and ethnic minorities are continuing to grow and there are now around 300 nonwhite-majority counties in America, most of which are located in the Southwest from Texas to California. Virtually none are in the stretch of America from the Ohio Valley to the Pacific Northwest.

Intensifying racial and ethnic animus in America can be traced in part to changing demographics as Hispanic, Asian and African-American populations continue to grow, while white populations remain relatively stable.

According to an updated Pew Research Center study released last week, racial diversification is occurring unevenly around the nation, which may explain differing attitudes toward demographic shifts.

Pew Research says 109 counties went from majority white to majority nonwhite between 2000 and 2018, based on US Census information. There are now almost 300 counties in the country with nonwhite majorities.

The largest number of nonwhite-majority counties are in the Southwest from Texas to Southern California. There are concentrations of nonwhite-majority counties in the South and along the Eastern seaboard. There are virtually none from the Ohio River Valley through the Midwest to the Pacific Northwest. There are two nonwhite-majority counties – Yakima and Adams – in Washington and none in Oregon. 

Nonwhite majorities exist in 21 of the 25 US counties with the largest populations. Eight of those 21 had white majorities as recently as 2000. They include San Diego, Orange, Riverside and Sacramento counties in California, Clark County in Nevada, Broward County in Florida, Tarrant County in Texas and Wayne County in Michigan. Hispanics represented the largest nonwhite population in seven of those eight counties. African-Americans were the largest nonwhite population in Wayne County, which includes Detroit.

Pew notes two counties, both with small populations, shifted from nonwhite majorities to white majorities in the same time period – Calhoun County in South Carolina and West Feliciana Parish in Louisiana.

Even as racial and ethnic diversity increases, whites remain the single largest bloc, Pew says, accounting for 60 percent of the nation’s populations. The largest US counties with white majorities include King County in Washington.

The Pew demographic study also noted reverse migration patterns, such as African-Americans leaving northern states to move to Atlanta and an increase in multiracial Americans.

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 An earlier PEW Research commentary noted six significant demographic trends:

  1. Millennials between the ages of 23 and 38 are the largest adult cohort in America and tend to be more educated, more racially and ethnically diverse and slower to marry than previous generations.

  2. Hispanics are projected to be the largest racial and ethnic group that will cast votes in the 2020 election.

  3. The American family continues to change. Now one in four US parents is unmarried.

  4. The 13.6 percent immigrant share of the US population is approaching a record high dating back to 1910 when immigrants accounted for 14.7 percent of the US population. The percentage was slightly higher in 1890. According to United Nations data, 25 nations and territories have a larger percentage of immigrant population than the United States.

  5. The unauthorized immigrant population in the United States is at its lowest level in more than a decade.

  6. Incomes are rising, but the increase is not spread equally. US household income is at or near its highest level in the last 50 years, while income inequality has grown, especially among racial and ethnic groups. For example, between 1970 and 2016, Asian-Americans went from a group with the lowest income inequality to the highest.

And, here are some bonus demographic data points related to older adults:

  • Around 90 percent of the increase in US employment since 1998 has come from higher employment of workers 55 and older.

  • The labor force participation rate for people age 65 to 69 has risen from roughly 28 percent in 1998 to 38 percent in 2019 for men and from 18 percent to about 30 percent for women.

  • Adults between ages 55 and 64 made up 26 percent of new entrepreneurs in 2017, an increase over the 19 percent figure in 2007.