CAMPAIGNS: research; Media revels in this info illness

Client: Reuters Business Information International (RBI) PR Team: Firefly Communications Campaign: Dying for Information? An Investigation in to the Effects of Information Overload Cost: pounds 50,000 Timescale: Spring 1996 - ongoing

Client: Reuters Business Information International (RBI)

PR Team: Firefly Communications

Campaign: Dying for Information? An Investigation in to the Effects of

Information Overload

Cost: pounds 50,000

Timescale: Spring 1996 - ongoing



People in the 1990s have embraced the information revolution as a cure

all to their cluttered lives. Unfortunately, employees increasingly

claim to be suffering from a new ailment called Information Fatigue

Syndrome (IFS) caused by the increased detail of information they are

force-fed daily.



Following successful high- profile UK reports and campaigns on the

politics and economics of information previously designed and launched

by Firefly as part of Reuters’ media relations strategy, the agency

proposed a new international report for 1996 focusing on the ‘psychology

of information’.



Objective



To reposition RBI, traditionally perceived as a media and finance

service, as major player in the business arena, by establishing

‘ownership’ of the information debate and positioning its service as a

single solution for information overload.



Tactics



Firefly commissioned an independent research company to carry out a

survey polling 1,300 managers in Britain, America and Asia-Pacific

across a broad range of industry sectors.



The resulting 350-page ‘Dying for Information?’ report was fronted by

psychologist and fellow of the International Stress Management

Association, Dr. David Lewis, who helped with the questionnaire, drafted

the foreword and provided endorsement for the research’. Firefly also

found two IFS sufferers, Ruth Sacks and Diana Harris, willing to speak

about the ailment to the media.



The information was launched to the media through a series of one-to-one

briefings at the weekend following the Conservative and Labour

conferences and the report being published on the Monday. ‘We figured

there might be a news shortage and banked on it’ said account director,

Annabel Abbs.



Four RBI senior staff members, the two IFS sufferers and Dr. Lewis were

made available for individual interviews with key national and trade

journalists, while reports were sent out to over 200 media contacts.



Results



The campaign struck a nerve within the media industry with more than 100

pieces of coverage and 67 media interviews generated in a month.



The story first broke at 7 am Monday on Radio 4’s Today Programme. UK

highlights included a cover story in the Guardian Section 2, a full page

story in the Daily Mail, and features in the Independent and Evening

Standard. The Daily Telegraph alone published the story five times. TV

interviews ranged from Network News to the Jonathan Ross Show. The

international report was also picked up by Radio Australia, CBS, CNN,

Time and the Chicago Tribune.



Based on the stir caused by the campaign and the 200 reports sold so

far, RBI has decided to sponsor a worldwide conference addressing how

companies can resolve this issue internally as well as a management

guide with tips on how to prevent IFS. The company is also hoping to

make a documentary on the syndrome.



Verdict



At a time when falling education standards are coming under the

spotlight and up-to- date information has become a necessity in the

workplace, RBI’s report gave legs to a very topical issue. In turn, the

company’s ownership of the survey has been effectively established with

a good level of branding across a majority of media coverage. RBI also

took advantage of the extensive broadcast interview circuit set up by

Firefly to push their products. As Phil Wainewright, freelance for IT

Microscope points out: ‘a canny PR agency came up with ‘a rather neat

way of promoting its client’s information filtering products.’



RBI’s marketing manager, Paul Waddington agreed the campaign helped to

reposition RBI as a market leader in the business arena: ‘The campaign

has made general businesses think more about the importance of

information, making it easier for us to sell them information services.’



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