WS survey reveals rise in direct-to-consumer comms

NEW YORK: A survey conducted this summer by Weber Shandwick and KRC Research indicates that an overwhelming majority of executives find increasing value in niche communications directly to consumers.

NEW YORK: A survey conducted this summer by Weber Shandwick and KRC Research indicates that an overwhelming majority of executives find increasing value in niche communications directly to consumers.

About 80% of respondents said that reaching customers "by creating more personal connections" interested them, and 49% are already pursuing such strategies.

Likewise, executives expressed that corporations are experimenting more with alternative forms of marketing and communications.

Of respondents, 34% said they were experimenting "a lot" with nontraditional marketing. As for particular foci, 69% were experimenting with social networking, 33% with online video, and 8% with avatar-based marketing, like those found in popular web environment Second Life.

Phone interviews for the survey, titled "The changing face of marketing and communications in today's creativity economy," were conducted during July and August with 104 execs or comms heads involved in corporate communications at Fortune 2,000 companies.

Overall, marcomms are playing a more prominent role at major corporations. Results show that 86% feel marketing is more important to their success than two years ago.

"Marketing has a bigger seat [than ever] at the table to drive a company forward," said Jennifer Risi, EVP at WS. Billee Howard, EVP and MD at WS, added that the results were a plus for PR.

"What [it] signifies is how companies need to connect with customers," she said. "Whether they use traditional or new-media methods is not as important as how sophisticated businesses are when they mix the two. There's no bigger driver than PR. It's a tremendous time and opportunity for the industry."

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