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Mainstream media excludes company messages half the time, study finds

21 September, 2010

AUSTRALIA — There is a 48 percent “gap” between the messages conveyed by a company and the messages ultimately delivered about that company by the media. The gap was identified in a new in-depth 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%).

The study explored 158 corporate messages, including announcements, product launches, speeches and thought leadership announcements 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. The analysis also revealed that, as expected, bloggers tend to bring more opinion to their content, driving the “message gap” higher.

In Asia-Pacific the gap between corporate message and mainstream media coverage was higher than the global average at 58% while the gap between companies and bloggers was slightly narrower at 63%.

“This study highlights the importance of crafting effective communications from a truly Asian perspective, based on an in-depth understanding of trends and cultures around the region,” said Burson-Marsteller Asia-Pacific CEO Bob Pickard. “The Asian blogosphere is still widely influenced by mainstream media reportage and a clearer organisational focus on how messages are reported will have carry-over benefits in digital channels.”

The Burson-Marsteller Message Gap Analysis is a proprietary methodology to analyse the differences and similarities between corporate messages and media reporting. The analysis also 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. The output is recommendations to strengthen message integrity and resonance. It is the latest Evidence-Based Communications tool launched by Burson-Marsteller to help its clients make informed data-driven decisions about their messages and communications.

For the full research report and information about the Burson-Marsteller Message Gap Analysis click here.

“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,” said Jennifer Graham Clary, Chair of Burson-Marsteller’s Global Technology Practice. “Organisations can then strengthen the integrity and resonance of their messages to ensure their intended message is being presented to stakeholders.”

Key insights from the study included:

1. “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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. Press releases are being reprinted extensively, which affects the strategy for the communications professional. Communicators should realise 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.

5. Bloggers are more likely to make comparisons to competitors and to speculate about an organisations 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.

About Burson-Marsteller Asia-Pacific
Burson-Marsteller Asia-Pacific ( is the leading consultancy for organizations communicating in Asia-Pacific and internationally, serving clients with strategic thinking and program execution across a full range of public relations, public affairs, advertising and web-related services. With a presence in Asia dating back to 1973, the Burson-Marsteller Asia-Pacific Network today includes 30 offices across 16 countries integrated seamlessly into a global network operating in 98 countries. Our Evidence-Based approach to communications provides our clients with effective, data-driven programs delivered through multiple channels and focused on tangible, measurable results. We offer deep local knowledge for single-market programs, multi-market coordination and excellence for regional programs, and global reach for Asia-Pacific companies and organizations seeking to raise their profile internationally.

Established in 1953 and with a worldwide network of 68 offices and 67 affiliate offices, Burson-Marsteller ( is a part of Young & Rubicam Brands, a subsidiary of WPP (NASDAQ: WPPGY), the world’s leading communications services network.

For more information contact:
Chris Yee Loy
Associate, Burson-Marsteller Australia
Tel: +61 2 9928 1506; Email:  

For further information, visit our website: or follow @BMaustralia.

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