There is a 48 percent “gap” between the messages conveyed by a company and the messages ultimately delivered about that company by the media, according to a new analysis of company communications and media coverage conducted by Burson-Marsteller, a leading global public relations and communications firm. The gap between the corporate message and the message conveyed by bloggers was even greater (69 percent).
The study explored 158 corporate messages, including announcements, product launches, speeches and thought leadership pieces from 16 companies from the Financial Times Global 100 across the U.S., Europe, Latin America and Asia Pacific. The gap was prevalent between corporate and media messages in all four regions and relatively larger in Latin America and Asia Pacific. And bloggers tend to bring more opinion to their content, driving the “message gap” higher.
“As companies increasingly turn their attention to message impact to measure success, they must begin to understand how their messages are coming across in a range of mainstream and new media channels,” says Jennifer Graham Clary, chair of Burson-Marsteller’s global technology practice. “Organizations can then strengthen the integrity and resonance of their messages to ensure their intended message is being presented to stakeholders.”
The analysis helps identify the messages and brand attributes that resonate best with journalists to increase the likelihood of direct quotes and message fidelity of communications materials.
Among the insights derived from the research, according to Burson-Marsteller:
· “Aspirational” branding language needs to be supported by concrete facts and messages or it will be ignored. Messages that tied back to the company’s core values and identity were more successful.
· Tell the whole story or the media will tell it for you. While this is age-old advice, companies that focused only on their own message paid the price by having their message become relatively more diluted in the broader story.
· Avoid using jargon, as the mainstream media and bloggers either ignore it or must create their own explanation of the potentially confusing company message. Make communications as accessible as possible.
· Press releases are being reprinted extensively, which affects the strategy for the communications professional. Communicators should realize that the audience for press releases is no longer just the media, and their language should be adapted for consumers, financial analysts, and other stakeholders, as well as media.
· Bloggers are more likely to make comparisons to competitors and to speculate about an organizations intentions and strategy. Because bloggers are more likely to incorporate their opinions and include messages from multiple sources, companies should consider developing messaging that is more targeted for a blogger’s needs.