PR perception versus consumer reality – time to rely on more than just instinct

PR perception versus consumer reality – time to rely on more than just instinct

The pandemic has changed the way we behave and previously held assumptions of where and how to engage with audiences can no longer be taken for granted

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1st July, 2021

Earned media and the role of communications teams in managing it have never been more under the spotlight. With the pandemic disrupting advertising plans and budgets, it’s communications practitioners who executive boards have looked to for building their profile among their target audiences.

Set this alongside the increasingly challenging job of protecting and building brand reputation in an ‘always on’ 24/7 news environment and it’s easy to see why PR and communicators may be feeling the pressure.

But the pandemic has impacted more than just the profile of PR and communicators’ work; it’s also disrupted how they work.

As we have all adjusted to a ‘new normal’, our news and media consumption behaviours have changed. No longer can previously held assumptions of where and how to engage with audiences be taken for granted.

Instead, it’s critical that PR and communications teams leverage data to inform and hone their earned media strategies.

Through a unique view of 700+ in-house practitioners and 6,000 members of the public, Kantar’s latest study analysing the news and media consumption trends in western Europe provides a window into consumer realities and communicators’ perceptions.

Here we highlight the three key takeaways for communications professionals from the study’s Irish market findings.

1. Don’t believe the hype

In-house communications professionals told us how they think patterns of news consumption are changing. So we asked audiences themselves: which sources of news and information have become more important to them in recent times?

Industry practitioners believe that audiences are now using social networks (70 per cent) and podcasts (53 per cent) more; yet just 15 per cent and 1 per cent of audiences respectively said they do actually use them more. In fact it’s TV news that audiences say has become a more important channel.

This gap between perception and reality is a concern, particularly when it comes to faster-growing media channels. There’s an easy and natural tendency to assume shiny new digital channels are the go-to source, but audience behaviour is complex. Rather, communications professionals need to challenge their perceptions to ensure their media plans are optimised.

2. Tech-driven news distribution a concern

Some 74 per cent of communicators we surveyed in Ireland say that avoiding more controversial or polarising news outlets is a concern. Many (41 per cent) recognise the challenges that come with AI and algorithms driving news distribution, and globally* over 90 per cent of comms professionals we spoke to believe the importance of digital channels in corporate communications plans has accelerated because of the pandemic.

This remains a major challenge for the industry. The benefit of coverage in a trusted news brand may be dissipating as audiences quickly skim through social media feeds and fail perhaps to check the source of the information they consume.

3. Quality data is key

Strikingly, nearly 90 per cent of comms practitioners say that accessing quality data is critical to building future comms strategies. In PR and communications, access to quality data is no longer a ‘nice to have’ – it’s a must have.

But there’s also increasing recognition that quality data on its own isn’t enough. Industry leaders are looking to derive the valuable insight from that data, allowing them to manage brand reputation successfully and build smarter communications strategies.

About Kantar Reputation Intelligence

Kantar Reputation Intelligence provides the trusted insights and intuitive tools you need to manage your coverage and protect your brand reputation, locally and globally, across every media channel.

Contact Peter Scott, Kantar Head of Customer Success,

Ireland to learn more:

[email protected]

* Kantar’s ’5 steps to a smarter communications strategy’ methodology: research conducted in six markets: IE, DE, ES, IT, FR, UK. 6,295 adults aged 16-64 and 737 industry professionals surveyed.

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