Impact of Influence study touts surprising findings

Photo courtesy of CCPRF

When it comes to media outlets and platforms, there are an abundance of options to get one’s word out, but where should you start – and more importantly – which medium does your market trust the most?

According to the Canadian Council of Public Relations Firms, traditional media sources still reign king, with newspapers leading the pack.

“This was the first study of its kind to monitor trends,” said Carol Levine, chair of CCPRF and managing partner of Energi PR. “There were surprises; some of us thought social media would have higher influence and we anticipated a smaller gap between traditional sources. We’re going to want to, and should, pay close attention to how this trend plays out over time.”

The study, titled The Impact of Influence, was conducted in September with a sample of 1,014 Canadian adults. According to its findings, when Canadians are ready to purchase a product or service the hierarchy of sources are:

  • Newspapers with 86 percent, TV with 83, radio with 78 percent and magazines with 73
  • Company websites hold more power than company blogs, with 68 and 29 percent respectively
  • Facebook with 21 percent, Twitter with 15 and blogs with 29 percent

When it comes to knowing which medium to use to reach the right audience, Levine says it comes down to a marriage between social and traditional.

“On behalf of clients we need to understand the audience,” she said. “It helps us define messages and understand what is going to resonate with consumers. We constantly have to be aware of what’s happening and where that conversation is taking place.”

Levine sites media monitoring as one way to determine if a market is tech-savvy or connoisseurs of traditional publishing.

“The organizations that we work for and provide services for, regardless of their size, are always concerned with the best allocation of their resources,” Levine said. “So, really understanding and not having false starts on where consumers are getting information is critical. The study gets us to where the PR industry needs to be.”

In the study, the results change when looking at responses from younger generations. According to 18-34 year olds, blogs are a top research source, whereas 16 percent of 55-plus year olds find that true.

“The more we know, the better,” Levine said. “It’s at the heart of everything we do. I’m delighted that we embarked on this and I think we really hit on something vital with our findings. From an advice point of view, I’d say that successful organizations have to stay ahead of the curve. So, this is not a one-time thing. It’s a first and important step forward. Social media is here to stay but at the same time, we like the recipes of the past.”



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