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Confidence in Congress Continues to Drop

Confidence in Congress has reached the lowest point ever, according to the latest Gallup Poll rating confidence in 16 institutions.Americans gave Congress a resounding thumbs down in the annual Gallup Poll® rating confidence in institutions released this week.

Among 16 institutions, Congress rated dead last. Just 10 percent said they had a great deal or quite of lot of confidence in it.

Congress has trailed all other institutions since 2006 when its ratings fell below big business. Current ratings for Congress are the lowest Gallop has found for any institution, ever.

Ratings were not driven by partisanship. Marks for Congress were statistically the same among Democrats, Republicans and Independents.

On the other hand, Americans have the most confidence in the military (76 percent great deal/quite a lot), followed by small business (65 percent) and the police (57 percent).

Don’t Assume When Planning Communications

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.

Hey, Have You Heard the News?

Once upon a time, paperboys shouted out the day's news headlines. Then radio and, later, television emerged as the way people heard about the news. Now a lot of news travels by word of mouth from family members, friends and trusted sources.

A study released Monday by the Pew Research Center describes a complex "information ecology," which includes traditional and interpersonal news sources. Study findings reinforce the advice of PR professionals who encourage integrated communications campaigns that deliver consistent messages across a range of communication channels.

Local TV still commands top position as a news source, with 74 percent of survey respondents saying they check in on broadcasts at least once a week. However, Pew says its role is narrowing and fading. While local TV news is the go-to source for weather, breaking news, politics and crime, viewers don't rely on it for business, schools, government and cultural events. Local TV news largely appeals to viewers age 40 or older. Younger people increasingly access news on mobile phones.

According to Pew, more people rely on word of mouth (55 percent) for news than radio (51 percent), newspapers (50 percent) and the Internet (47 percent), which includes social media sites such as Facebook, websites and blogs.

People use interpersonal news sources to triangulate or vet information reported by traditional or new media, Pew suggests. They also use word of mouth to personalize the news to their own circumstances. A Brookings Institution study earlier this year concluded word of mouth sources fill gaps in media coverage on education. [The report says there is a strong interest in more in-depth coverage of what goes on in schools, as well as education policy and teacher quality that affect student outcomes.]