Charting the Industry: Digital Survey Results Reveal Insecurity

PR News and Peppercom will release the findings of their Digital PR survey during the March 11 webinar on "Building and Managing Your Company's Online Reputation." Below you will see a portion of the results. The survey, taken by nearly 500 communications professionals, sheds light on their impressions of their organizations' digital efforts in relation to those of their competitors. Surprisingly (or, perhaps not), respondents were candid about their perceived success with digital platforms relative to their peers: Only 16% said they are ahead of their competition when it comes to digital marketing, and 33% admitted to being behind the curve. Approximately 36% assumed they are on par with competitors. As for the success of companies' digital programs to-date, 36% said it was too soon to tell, 36% said they were either somewhat or moderately successful, and 9% said they were not able to measure/define success. "What seemed to be a prevailing attitude is that the average survey respondent is being beaten to the punch," says Steve Cody, managing partner of Peppercom. "But I wonder if that is a perception or a reality?" Surely perception is at least part of the equation, as communications professionals--and business execs in general--have openly struggled with integrating cutting-edge digital platforms into their overall marketing mix. But, with the majority of respondents saying that, in light of a looming recession, digital is going to play a more strategic role in their 2008 marketing strategy, the root cause of this unpreparedness is worth investigating. "What this says to me is that there is a tremendous amount of frustration, either with management not investing in digital, or just not understanding the strategic value of digital," Cody says. If management really doesn't understand the value of digital, perhaps a good place to start would be with crisis communications. The survey results show that only 5% of respondents feel very prepared to avoid/manage a major digital crisis, and 15% admitted to being completely unprepared. The 48% who said they were "somewhat prepared" echoed other results that implied a general confusion among professionals in the industry about where their organizations stood with regard to digital, and how to improve that. "For me, the biggest surprise was the lack of preparedness from a crisis standpoint," Cody says. "[Communications professionals] are anticipating the worst, but they're not thinking strategically or doing something new and different. They are still caught up in being prepared from a reactive standpoint, not in outdoing their competition." To register for the March 11 Digital PR webinar, please visit The full survey results will also be available online after the webinar. PRN A 4-Minute Digital PR Survey by PR News & Peppercom: A Snapshot of the Results 1. In light of a looming recession, is digital going to play a more strategic role in your overall 2008 marketing mix? Yes 54.8% Don't Know 34.7% No 8.4% No Response 2.1% 2. Are you ahead of, parallel to or behind your competition when it comes to digital marketing? Parallel To 35.5% Behind 32.6% Don't Know 16.0% Ahead 15.6% 3. Based on your company's overall goals for its digital program, how would you describe your success to-date? Too Soon To Tell 35.5% Somewhat Successful 21.6% Moderately Successful 14.4% Have Not Been Able To Measure/Define Success 9.2% Very Successful 9.2% Don't Know 7.4% Not Successful 2.3% 4. How prepared are you to avoid/manage a major digital crisis (ie CEO/executive posts something inappropriate or unethical, customers begin bashing your company/its products, or you get caught breaking Web 2.0 transparency rules)? Somewhat Prepared 48.7% Prepared 15.8% Completely Unprepared 15.2% Don't Know 13.3% Very Prepared 4.7% Source: PR News and Peppercom

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