Friday, April 27, 2007

Opinion Polling is showing half of the story

Sir Robert Worcester FIPR has been offering his opinion polls to the PR industry for years. Mostly these services offer useful information and sometimes insights (you might imagine that, in another life and as the founder of Media Measurement, I had some occasion to monitor what was offered and used by some of his clients).

Today I read his comments about uptake of the Internet and why we should not rely on it because it does not reach a range of segments of the population.

To begin with lets be clear, the Internet is not a channel for communication and it is as much a place as a range of technologies. Thus if people do not access the Internet using a PC, they might by using a cell phone of television set, Skype phone or Playstation3. Thus the Mori factoid offered in Profile Magazine does need to be read with salt and a wake-up pinch.

Mr Worcester's contribution offers us this:

"...But still only about one in four of those 65 and older have taken up the Internet, and there has been no growth during the past 18 months.

"- And still fewer than one in ten of those 65 and older in DE households living on state benefits are taking part in the benefits of the internet.

"It is also true that the majority of wealth is in the hands of the oldest third of the country, who did 43 per cent of the voting at the last election. If you are thinking that communicating to your audiences is so easy now that the internet is so ubiquitous, think again. You might not reach all of your target audience using traditional media, it is also true that you won’t reach all these people via the internet, without also using the traditional media."

This is using an opinion poll as a 'PR exercise' on behalf of the newspaper industry (big Mori customers one cynically might add) .

Just as one would not depend on SMS for interacting with these segments of populations, one might also not use Blogs or telemarketing the over '80's.

That the Internet - a place - is where a lot of people visit and is not far from anyone, does not mean that it is in the least bit appropriate for direct relationship building any more than Heathrow Airport.

All That Robert Worcester's polls tell us is that loads of people use PC's to use the Internet - Wow! another victory for the pollsters.

This was just a plea to get PR people to use Newspaper interactions and is just nuts. If a campaign is worth its salt and is only exposed on one of, lets say 60, Internet mediataed communications channels, the media will report it.... no need for press releases - just good journalists who are on the look out for a good story. The newspaper proprietors will eventually learn that there is a need for good journalists for print as well as online and that printed newspapers are different to digital news (Read differently, at different times, using different channels etc).

If Robert wanted to get to the meat, he might ask if a story is relevant for the constituent and if so which media is not reporting it. You see, if the story is not on a tape, my 90 year 'old other person in the household' would not read it in a newspaper either - she is one of the nine in ten of the over 65's not using the Internet everyday (well except DAB radio) and is blind.

Come on Bob - it was a cheap article.