PR Pros Eye Surveys About Online Shopping, Racism, Trust in Tech

Some call the period prior to the pandemic beforetimes. The new normal is the cliche tapped to describe the present. Despite communicators’ need to avoid buzzwords, admittedly it’s important for PR pros to constantly take inventory of what audiences are doing and thinking. Fortunately, the life-changing nature of the pandemic has spawned a bevy of PR- and marketing-related surveys. There has been an uptick in polls and surveys for brands and public policy, said Adam Probolsky, president, Probolsky Research.

"Everyone wants to do a survey, and as researchers we love that because we love data," he said. With more people staying home to work, poll participation is up and so polling is more productive, he added.

We highlighted a few below.

Online Shopping

Online buying is now mainstream behavior, a survey of 1,000 British consumers concluded. The survey, from BBH London, said two-thirds (65.6 percent) of respondents are “a lot” or “a little” more likely to buy online. Convenience, not price, is the key. Marketing Week reported the survey first. It adds that successful brands are those that maintain high standards with products, marketing and customer experience, both online (direct or from a curator) or in-store.

Similar happenings are seen in the U.S., where brick-and-mortar businesses, which were hurting pre-pandemic, now are struggling at an accelerated rate, and online shopping is growing significantly.

Racism and Companies

Few subjects were more discussed recently than racism. A Public Affairs Council survey revealed that although research shows consumers want companies to take stands, just 28 percent of those surveyed said companies are playing "a positive role" in combatting racism. Thirty-eight percent said businesses don't "make a difference" in the struggle, though 74 percent of the 2,200 respondents believe racism is "a somewhat or very serious problem."

On the other hand, the benefits of a constructive stand seem obvious. If a major company were to battle racism, 51 percent said they would have a more favorable opinion of it. Just 9 said they would have a less favorable opinion of the company.

Adjusting Business

Many of the trends we’ve heard from PR pros and reported on are present in a survey and interviews Digital Third Coast conducted with 30 marketing and ad agencies executives.

  • 68 percent said the pandemic altered how they do business (they’ve become more client centric, initiating more calls with clients and speaking more openly to them)
  • 74 percent made financial changes (they are thinking more about pricing and have added flexibility to their billing procedures) and
  • 75 percent altered their products and services, dropping some items and services and adding others.

Social Media and Trust

Turning to social media, earlier in the month we reported on a PEW survey that found the American public had little confidence in social platforms combatting election-related misinformation.

Similarly, 50 percent of 1,250 Americans surveyed said it has become "very or somewhat more difficult" over the past six months to find accurate information, according to a Brodeur Partners' poll.

Insider Intelligence's annual US Digital Trust Survey found LinkedIn was the most trusted platform for protecting users' data and providing a safe environment.

The survey of nearly 2,000 U.S. adults found the pandemic did little to alter consumer trust in these platforms. Facebook was the least trusted, even below TikTok, which was a Chinese-government-owned entity when the survey was fielded, and Twitter. More than half (53 percent) of U.S. Facebook users said the platform protects their data and privacy, which, as we noted, was the lowest share of respondents among all the platforms.

Big Tech and TV

Similarly, FleishmanHillard's Techlash 2020 surveyed 1,000 adults in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Italy, Germany, China and S. Korea, and found consumers urging big tech to consider the influence it's having on the world. Nearly 60 percent of consumers in the June 2020 survey believe technology needs to address its policies and products and treat consumers right to regain trust.

For Gen Z-ers in the U.S., trust was huge. Their distrust of tech rose from 26 percent in 2019 to 46 percent in 2020.

A survey of 51 local TV news stations showed they’ll be devoting 20 percent of their broadcast to politics this month, 30 percent next month and 36 percent the week before the election. The D S Simon Media survey said 46 percent will have started their holiday coverage in October. In addition, 86 percent of TV producers prefer interviewing brand spokespeople as opposed to a hired expert.

The takeaway is that TV news is open to a variety of stories.

Seth Arenstein is editor of PRNEWS and Crisis Insider