Methinks they buried the lead
Let me preface this by stating for the record that I hated those assignments I got as a journalist to take a huge collection of survey data and summarize it in a coherent article. With that said, however, I have to take issue with the summary of the CEO survey recently published by PR Week. The article covering the survey of 144 CEOs from companies ranging from under $10M (25.7%) up to $1B or more (17.4%) and everything in between had some interesting pull quotes that talked about the challenges CEOs face communicating with all of their various constituences. It noted that 85.4% of CEOs believe it is "extremely important" to be perceived as an influencer in the industry.
But it failed to point out some findings that practically jumped out and whacked me in the face as I was going through the charts that accompanied the text.
Asked "for which of the following objectives is PR extremely important?" this group of CEOs listed managing the media second to last (influencing government policy was last).
Asked "which activities would you describe as extremely effective in terms of building your profile as a CEO?" they ranked writing a blog dead last.
Asked "which group would you describe as extremely influential to your business decision-making?" they listed bloggers/online discussion boards last. For perspective, note that trade pubs were listed in the 12 spot, followed by online news or business titles (15), analyst/analyst reports (16), print newspapers (17), television business news (18), and print business magazines (19).
Hold, if you will, the disdain shown above for media relations and the influence of the media overall (in their rankings). Now consider that, when asked, "which media outlet's coverage would you describe as extremely influential to a company's business?" they listed the usual suspects, rattling off BusinessWeek, Fortune, WSJ, Forbes, NY Times, and so forth.
This is where I am scratching my head to understand the findings and why this wasn't more prominent in the coverage of this survey. If a high percentage (nearly 30%) of these companies are under $10M, a group that needs to have lean, focused outreach programs, why don't they think writing a corporate blog is something to consider? They want to go as directly as possible to their customers and seem to think media relations isn't as effective a channel to their constituencies. Why aren't they watching blogs as a way to connect and communicate with their customers and potential buyers? How do they think they are going to get into that important list of business pubs (which earlier in the survey didn't seem so important, by the way) if they believe media relations isn't a key element of PR?
Ah, surveys! We can't live with them and we can't live without them. Do take a look at this one and see if you share my confusion with the findings.