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Executives Underestimate Americans’ Interest in Research-Driven News

November 29, 2012

NEW YORK, Nov. 29, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — High-level executives at American companies typically differ from mainstream Americans in some key ways – and not just salary. Their jobs typically require them to keep abreast of national and world events, as evidenced by the 99% indicating that they at least keep up with the news (compared to 82% of Americans in an August 2012 Harris Poll). The demands of their professions can also leave little room for leisure time, hence the majority (58%, vs. 36% of Americans overall) identifying online as their preferred way to get the news (with print and TV battling for the distant second position, at 20% and 19%, respectively), contrasting sharply with the TV-led news consumption of Americans overall (50%).

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But ultimately, no matter how far they veer from the mainstream, executives in many industries nonetheless need to understand the average American. From retailers to restaurants, manufacturers to service providers, their end users, or those of their clients, are in many cases the average American. So – are they on target? According to a recent Harris Poll focusing on executive perceptions of American news consumption, executives are missing the mark on some key areas of how to best reach the average American.

These are some of the results of a Harris Poll of 300 corporate executives at companies with revenues of $1 billion or more; all interviews were conducted online in the United States between October 4 and 11, 2012 by Harris Interactive.

Under-valuing research, over-valuing “People like me” perspectives

When asked about thoughts and preferences when reading online or print news, executives appear to overestimate Americans’ enjoyment of seeing news articles which include what people like them think about something; 91% of execs agree with this statement, vs. the 77% of Americans agreeing that they enjoy this in the aforementioned August poll.

In contrast, executives appear to underestimate Americans’ interest in and understanding of research in news articles. While the majority agree that Americans prefer to read news articles that include research results (67%), as well as that Research needs to be conducted by a credible organization in order for Americans to trust it (75%) and When reading articles which cite research statistics, Americans think it is important to consider the person or company that conducted the research (67%), these are all well below Americans’ agreement levels (80%, 88% and 85%, respectively) when asked a parallel set of questions on their own news-reading opinions.

One thing executives and the average American appear to agree on is the importance of a good headline: when asked which factors they believe make Americans more likely to read an online or print article, a catchy headline (67% executives vs. 54% Americans), while a stronger selection among executives than among U.S. adults discussing their own news consumption habits, is the top-rated draw for both groups.

So What?

“These results illustrate the need for utilizing research in communicating with the American public,” asserts Harris Poll Insights Vice President Deana Percassi. “Americans are more discerning and critical readers than executives give them credit for. They like to see claims backed up with data, they want that data to be credible, and they want to know that a credible person or organization performed the research in order before forming opinions on it.”

                                            TABLE 1
                                            -------
                                         NEWS INTEREST
                                         -------------
                        "Which of these statements best describes you?"
                        -----------------------------------------------
    Base: U.S. executives / U.S. adults
    -----------------------------------
                                   October 2012 U.S. Executives   August 2012 U.S. Adults
                                   ----------------------------   -----------------------
                 %                              %
                ---                            ---
    I am a news
     junkie;
     it's a
     favorite
     leisure
     time
     activity                                                 19                       13
    -----------                                              ---                      ---
    I like to
     keep up
     with the
     news, but
     it's just
     one of
     many ways
     that I
     spend my
     leisure
     time                                                     80                       69
    ----------                                               ---                      ---
    I am not
     really                       time
     interested
     in the
     news;
     there are
     other ways
     that I
     prefer to
     spend my
     leisure                                                   1                       18
    -----------                                              ---                      ---

Note: Responses may not add up to 100% due to rounding

                                            TABLE 2
                                            -------
                      PREFERRED NEWS MODE - BY GENERATION & NEWS INTEREST
                      ---------------------------------------------------
                "While you may get your news in multiple ways, which one is your
                                 preferred way to get the news?"
                ----------------------------------------------------------------
    Base: U.S. executives / U.S. adults
    -----------------------------------
                                             October                       August
                                            2012 U.S.                    2012 U.S.
                                            Executives                     Adults
                                            ----------                     ------
                 %                              %
                ---                            ---
    Online
     [NET]                                                    58                    36
    ------                                                   ---                   ---
                    Online - on
                       computer                               36                    29
                    -----------                              ---                   ---
                       Online -
                         tablet                               13                     4
                       --------                              ---                   ---
                       Online -
                         mobile
                         device                               10                     3
                       --------                              ---                   ---
    Print                                                     20                    10
    -----                                                    ---                   ---
    TV                                                        19                    50
    ---                                                      ---                   ---
    Some other
     way                                                       2                     3
    ----------                                               ---                   ---

Note: Responses may not add up to 100% due to rounding

                                                                TABLE 3
                                                                -------
                                                    INTEREST IN RESEARCH-BASED NEWS
                                                    -------------------------------
                                 "How strongly do you agree or disagree with the following statements?"
                                 ----------------------------------------------------------------------
                                            Summary of "Strongly agree" and "Somewhat agree"
                                            ------------------------------------------------
    Base: U.S. executives / U.S. adults
    -----------------------------------
              U.S. EXECUTIVES                       October                        U.S. ADULTS             August 2012 U.S. Adults
                                              2012 U.S. Executives
                    ---                       --------------------
                     %                                 %
                    ---                               ---
    Americans are more likely to trust                               91   I am more likely to trust an
     an online or print article if                                        online or print article if
     there is research in it which                                        there is research in it which
     supports the story                                                   supports the story                                    86
    ----------------------------------                              ---  -----------------------------                         ---
    Americans enjoy seeing news                                           I enjoy seeing news articles
     articles which include what                                          which include what people like
     people like them think about                                         me think about something
     something                                                       91                                                         77
    -----------------------------                                   ---   -------------------------------                      ---
    Americans' purchase decisions are                                79   My purchase decisions are often
     often influenced by research                                         influenced by research
     conducted about a product or                                         conducted about a product or
     service                                                              service                                               70
    ---------------------------------                               ---  -------------------------------                       ---
    Research needs to be conducted by                                75   Research needs to be conducted
     a credible organization in order                                     by a credible organization in
     for Americans to trust it                                            order for Americans to trust
                                                                          it                                                    88
    ---------------------------------                               ---  -------------------------------                       ---
    When reading articles which cite      When reading articles which
     research statistics, Americans                                       cite research statistics, the
     think it is important to consider                                    person or company who
     the person or company who                                            conducted the research is
     conducted the research                                          67   important to consider                                 85
    ----------------------------------                              ---  ------------------------------                        ---
    Americans prefer to read articles                                67   I prefer to read articles that
     that include research results                                        include research results                              80
    ---------------------------------                               ---  ------------------------------                        ---

Note: Responses may not add up to 100% due to rounding

                                                 TABLE 4
                                                 -------
                        PERCEIVED REASONS FOR READING ARTICLES VS. ACTUAL REASONS
                        ---------------------------------------------------------
         [U.S. Executives] "Which of the following do you believe makes Americans more likely to
                                    read an online or print article?"
         ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
         [U.S. Adults] "Which of the following makes you more likely to read an online or print
                                                article?"
         --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Base: U.S. executives / U.S. adults
    -----------------------------------
                                                      October                       August
                                                2012 U.S. Executives           2012 U.S. Adults
                                                --------------------           ----------------
                      %                                  %
                     ---                                ---
    A catchy headline                                                  67                       54
    -----------------                                                 ---                      ---
    An interesting picture with the
     article                                                           43                       44
    -------------------------------                                   ---                      ---
    An interesting infographic (e.g.
     visual representation of
     information, data or knowledge)                                   39                       28
    --------------------------------                                  ---                      ---
    Interesting data or research which
     supports the article                                              36                       43
    ----------------------------------                                ---                      ---
    Who the author is                                                  14                       13
    -----------------                                                 ---                      ---
    Something else                                                      7                       13
    --------------                                                    ---                      ---
    None of these                                                       1                        9
    -------------                                                     ---                      ---

Note: Responses may not add up to 100% due to rounding

Methodology

Harris Interactive® conducted the Executive Omnibus survey online within the United States from October 4 – 11, 2012, among a total of 300 corporate executives at companies with revenue of $1 billion or more. Figures for company revenue and number of employees were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the larger universe of companies with revenue of $1 billion or more.

The August 2012 Harris Poll of U.S. adults was conducted online within the United States between August 13 and 20, 2012 among 2,307 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words “margin of error” as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for these surveys were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of their respective populations. Because the samples are based on those who agreed to participate in Harris Interactive panels, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

The Harris Poll(®) #64, November 29, 2012

By: Larry Shannon-Missal, Harris Poll Research Manager

About Harris Interactive
Harris Interactive is one of the world’s leading market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll® and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers proprietary solutions in the areas of market and customer insight, corporate brand and reputation strategy, and marketing, advertising, public relations and communications research. Harris possesses expertise in a wide range of industries including health care, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Additionally, Harris has a portfolio of multi-client offerings that complement our custom solutions while maximizing our client’s research investment. Serving clients in more than 196 countries and territories through our North American and European offices, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us – and our clients–stay ahead of what’s next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.

Press Contacts:
Corporate Communications
Harris Interactive
212-539-9600
press@harrisinteractive.com

SOURCE Harris Interactive


Source: PR Newswire