New Survey Reveals Where People Get Information

New Survey Finds Word of Mouth Stronger Than Ever

It’s no wonder that Facebook wants to add all these features so that you’ll see what your “friends” are watching, doing and, yes, even thinking. And the “circles” and “hangouts” of Google+ seem to be taking us in the same direction: “You share different things with different people.” “Bumping into friends while you’re out is one of the best parts of going out and about.”

Word-of-mouth marketing and information gathering are taking over these days. A new survey just out from the Pew Research Center and Knight Foundation reveals that 55% of adults say they get local information weekly or more often via word of mouth, from family, friends, co-workers and neighbors. Word of mouth polled higher than every new and traditional form of news media except local TV news as the most frequently consulted news source.

This speaks very well for the value of conferences. They are, by far, the best places to learn about new trends and what’s working and what’s not in the industry because you are surrounded by friends and colleagues. You are going to get more out of a breakfast or break at the Marketing Conference or a turn at the Publishers Roundtable than months of sitting in your office.

Some key themes from the Pew Research Survey:
– Word of mouth is particularly likely to be cited by younger residents as one of their top platforms for learning about community events. Adults age 40 and older are more likely to prefer word of mouth as a source for local politics, local government activity, housing and real estate, zoning and social services.
– The websites of newspapers and TV stations do not score highly as a relied-upon information source on any topics.
– Social media is becoming a factor in how people learn about their local community, but it is not as popular as other digital forms. In all, only 17% of adults say they get local information on social networking sites at least monthly. (Hence, the aforementioned big push by Facebook in this area.)
– Nearly half of adults use mobile devices to get local news and information. Not surprisingly, mobile is particularly popular for “out and about” categories of information, such as restaurants. And 41% of all adults can be considered “local news participators” because they contribute their own information via social media and other sources, add to online conversations, and directly contribute articles about the community.
– Weather (89%) is the most popular local topic followed by breaking news (80%); local politics (67%), crime (66%) and further down job openings (39%) and local government activities (42%).

Wrote Paul Farhi in yesterday’s Washington Post: “Marketers have always known that word-of-mouth advertising, or buzz, is critical to selling a product, but its role in news hasn’t been well studied….interpersonal news usually comes from a known and trusted source, and helps people ‘triangulate’ or vet information that may have been reported by the mass media, said Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, one of two Pew-funded organizations behind the research. It also may be far more specific and personal than anything the media can provide, he said, such as who’s the best fourth-grade teacher at the local school.”

So the challenge remains to get people talking about your product or service. Whether that comes through social media or building communities or targeting certain audiences, you are going to get far more educated about everything through an association like SIPA and its many word-of-mouth-building and in-person events.


At SIPA’s upcoming Fall Publishers Roundtable
on Wednesday, Oct. 5 (just over a week away!),
you will leave the meeting with more than
20 publishers who will help you spread your words.
And give you new ideas on everything you do.
The Roundtable takes place at the
McGraw-Hill Conference Center in New York.
Sign up now before the 35 spots fill up!
Or call SIPA at 703.992.9339 for more information.

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