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Research

Study: Brands Play Politics at Their Own Risk

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Last week, we covered a study performed by the Global Strategy Group which found that Americans want their consumer brands to be MORE openly political.

You’re not alone in finding these conclusions surprising: we are not exactly a country defined by political consensus at the moment, and many brands looking to appeal to as many Americans as possible would rather stay out of the game entirely. (For example, you may notice that Chick-Fil-A’s current leadership has far more interest in discussing customer engagement and marketing strategies than same-sex marriage.)

A new research paper funded by the Arthur W. Page Center and published in the November issue of Public Relations Journal seems, in part, to contradict GSG’s findings. Americans may want their brands to take stands on social/policy issues, but the act of playing politics also carries significant risks.

As co-author and assistant professor of PR/advertising at University of Central Florida Melissa D. Dodd puts it, “there are financial repercussions.”

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STUDY: The Public Wants Its Brands to Get More Political

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Is Nike a Republican or a Democratic brand? What about Apple?

Given the headaches and ruined family dinners inspired by this week’s midterm elections — along with the general sense that Americans have had it with ugly party politics — this post’s headline may come as a surprise.

Yet a study released by the Global Strategy Group found that Americans do assign political identities to brands, and that the general public wants those brands to be more overtly political, whether that means Chick-Fil-A letting the world know how it feels about same-sex marriage or Chipotle asking gun owners not to bring their firearms inside.

Some key findings:

  • 56 percent of respondents think corporations should “take a stance” on political/cultural issues, even when they’re controversial
  • 89 percent believe that corporations have the power to influence social change
  • 80 percent think that these corporations should take action to address our society’s most pressing challenges

The most interesting part is that these numbers mark a big change from last year, when researchers asked the same questions. We spoke to Tanya Meck, Executive Vice President and Managing Director at GSG, to learn more.

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25 Things Journalists Think You Should Stop Doing Right Now

Here at PRNewser, we often post lists of best/worst practices in media relations. We’ve done the pitching thing and we know how hard it is; it’s nothing if not an imprecise science.

This week, our friends at Hubspot have called upon their team’s knowledge, along with “journalist gripes from Twitter and from in-person interviews,” to compile a second annual “S#*t PR people do that journalists hate” project.

Here’s the slideshow:

We especially love the part about copy-and-paste pitching and the hook ‘em first email trail leading to “more information.” These context-free pitches often come from robots (we think) or people based overseas, but there has to be a there there, right?

After the jump, some additions to the list from us and our Mediabistro colleagues.

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Global Internet Usage Passes the Three Billion Mark

That’s the big takeaway from a study published by “global conversation agency” We Are Social and data company InternetLiveStats today.

The general trends won’t surprise you, but they’re worth a review:

Some more interesting findings: mobile is even more here than we thought: an estimated 3/4 of the 3 billion people who access the Internet do so via mobile device. These numbers are even higher for socially connected users…and they’re rapidly increasing, of course.

The only surprises concern international audiences, but they’re worth noting: when it comes to total membership, networks we use every day like LinkedIn and Instagram rank far below others like QZone, WeChat and, yes, Google+.

Snapchat isn’t even on the list.

In other news, this is the number of emails supposedly sent so far today.

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Honestly, now: how many of them really needed to exist?

B2B Clients to Firms: ‘Stop Marketing to Me!’

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A recent guest post on this blog concerned the fact that B2B marketing often lacks “emotional appeal.

Emotion in B2B marketing, you ask? That’s unpossible!

It’s true, though: a recent survey performed by The Economist and Peppercomm found that business audiences want something a little more “substantial” from the brands they know. And, as the graphic below shows us, there’s a serious disconnect between marketers and the people they’re trying to reach.

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Despite this fact, the vast majority (93 percent) of marketers plan on sending more content to executives next year.

It’s time to rethink that relationship. We asked Ted Birkhahn, president and partner at Peppercomm, for his take on the survey results.

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The 20 Most ‘Authentic’ Brands in the US (and Why)

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“Transparency” isn’t just a buzzword: as a 2013 survey by Cohn & Wolfe showed us, consumers around the world are demanding more in the way of honest communications from the brands they know and use every day.

The 2014 version of that survey, which the firm released this week, is larger and more all-encompassing. They keyword this time around: “authenticity.”

Here’s the big finding:

  • 87 percent of global consumers say it’s important for brands to “act with integrity at all times” while only 72 percent call innovation essential

Another key finding: product quality and the transparency surrounding it is the largest potential cause of crisis for a brand — and the public in general is NOT happy about data security.

After the jump, we list the 20 “most authentic” brands in the United States and ask Cohn Global Practice Leader of Corporate Affairs Geoff Beattie to tell us a bit more about the “why.”

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STUDY: Social Media Amplifies Companies’ Mistakes

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In what might seem like one of the least surprising findings in recent memory, a study published by MSLGroup found that bad behavior and messaging mistakes are amplified by social media.

Some stats from the survey of senior comms professionals in the EMEA region, as posted on the UK blog The Drum:

  • 74 percent of companies have seen their communications strategies change since the advent of social
  • 85 percent say social has increased the reputational affects of mistakes
  • 77 percent think that empowering team members as “brand advocates” would be helpful
  • But 75 percent worry about losing control of the message if they do so

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STUDY: Readers Remember Misleading Headlines

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Here at Mediabistro, we often get requests from reps to change or alter our headlines. We usually respond with annoyance, but a study featured in Fast Company yesterday explains why such demands can be very important: readers will remember a misleading headline even when they read the full article for a better understanding of the story.

The paper, published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, makes a pretty basic point: headlines can be “misleading” without being incorrect — and the difference between the two is often lost on readers through no real fault of their own.

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Q&A: Targeting the ‘Conscious Consumer’

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Last week, Edelman’s second annual brandshare survey told us that a large majority of consumers (83 percent) aren’t satisfied by their “relationships” with brands. They want more in the way of information, but they feel like brands are only out to promote themselves.

This is especially true in the food/health space, where concerns about safety and nutrition occupy the minds of many.

Gibbs & Soell and rbb Public Relations recently joined forces to create New York-based Gibbs-rbb, a joint venture designed to target this very sort of “conscious consumer.” The new firm then produced a study that we discussed with managing director Jeffrey R. Graubard.

By the firm’s own estimate, the “conscious consumer” market was worth $120B in 2013. It’s growing quickly — and its members are willing to spend more money to get the kind of products they prefer.

So how do we reach them? Findings, questions and answers after the jump.

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Is BuzzFeed Really America’s ‘Least Trusted’ News Source?

The study that has everyone’s attention in the media world today concerns trust and political ideology.

Depending on your affiliation and your favorite outlets, the extensive Pew Research Journalism Project survey could be seen as either a good or bad thing: more American readers of various political persuasions trust The Wall Street Journal than any other publication, and CNN/Fox remain the biggest/most trusted sources of TV news (which is great for Brian Stelter).

We’re not too concerned with party politics, though. We’re most interested in the fact that the pubs with the smallest divide between “trust” and “distrust” were PBS and WSJ, while the pub with the largest difference between those numbers was…BuzzFeed. Here’s the chart:

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So does this survey encourage doubts about the value of placements on BuzzFeed?

We have to say no.

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