MetLife and Echo Research won the 2009 Jack Felton Golden Ruler Award for excellence in public relations measurement and evaluation. This award identifies great examples of research and measurement integrated into public relations practice. IPR publishes winners as case studies on the Institute’s website (www.instituteforpr.org).
This entry, “The Media Reality Check: A New Approach to Content Analysis” is somewhat unlike past entries in that it used media analysis as a starting- rather than an end-point. You can find the entry at: http://www.instituteforpr.org/files/uploads/JFGRAMetLifeandEchoResearch.pdf.
MetLife believed its messages about Annuities, Long-Term Care Insurance and Life Insurance were not being accurately and completely reported. This concerned the company because it felt that without complete and accurate information, consumers were less able to make informed decisions about these products.
To determine whether or not MetLife was correct in this perception, it commissioned Echo to analyze the “message accuracy” of MetLife coverage of these three topics. Echo assessed message accuracy by quantifing:
- The accuracy of basic facts,
- The number of misstatements
- Omissions of basic facts
Echo calls this approach “The Media Reality Check.” They limited the media analysis to a set of publications MetLife considers to be particularly influential.
METLIFE POSITION SUPPORTED
Echo found the overwhelming majority of articles on the three topics of interest omitted a number of basic facts and included a number of misstatements. For example, 94% of the articles they examined on life insurance had at least one error or omission in their reporting on the topic. And omissions of facts were present more than errors. While 32% of the articles contained a misstatement of fact, 88% omitted a basic fact.
SOLUTION BASED ON RESEARCH RESULTS
MetLife has communicated this information to editors and reporters who follow these topics for key media. In followup measurement studies, not only has MetLife’s coverage gone up, but also the accuracy of reporting. To me, this is a great case, because it focuses on how an organization can use research and measurement not just to evaluate, but to understand and assess (and in this case even quantify) a situation and use this information to develop a solution. Congratulations to MetLife and Echo Research for an innovative use of research to manage a communications challenge.
Thanks very much for reading. If you have questions you’d like me to address, or other topics you’d like me to write about, please let me know.
I work with organizations going through a change in strategic direction (merger, acquisition, building program, new product launch, change program, etc.) and that are concerned about what will happen with their relationships with key stakeholders (customers, employees, investors) if they send out the wrong, or confusing, messages. After working with me, my clients have a clear understanding of what their messages should be. I also provide them recommendations on other actions they can take to enhance their relationships with stakeholders.
I also work as a PR and communications research director for hire for agencies and other organizations.
The Institute for Public Relations, (IPR) is dedicated to the “science beneath the art” of PR. It focuses on PR research and education. If you are interested in the topics I write about, you will almost certainly be interested in IPR. You can find it at http://www.instituteforpr.org/. While you’re there, check out the Essential Knowledge Project at http://www.instituteforpr.org/essential_knowledge/.
Forrest W. Anderson
Institute for Public Relations
Commission on PR Measurement and Evaluation