Journalists advise CEOs to communicate more in a tough economy

NEW YORK: Fifty-six percent of journalists believe businesses should be increasing their communications efforts during the economic downturn, and 55% say they should focus on delivering more fact-driven messages.

NEW YORK: Fifty-six percent of journalists believe businesses should be increasing their communications efforts during the economic downturn, and 55% say they should focus on delivering more fact-driven messages.

These are among the findings from the annual survey of journalists conducted by Middleberg Euro RSCG and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, released this week. Conducted since 1994, the survey this year registered the opinions of more than 800 newspaper, magazine, and broadcast reporters.

"The journalists here are telling CEOs that in tough economic times, you should not batten down the communications hatches,

said Middleberg chairman and CEO Don Middleberg. "In fact, you should communicate factually, frequently, and consistently. Use this time wisely, say the journalists, to position yourself."

Middleberg said the findings should serve as a wake-up call to companies that have been slashing PR functions as a cost-cutting measure. "PR has proven to be, dollar for dollar, the most effective marketing tool going. So that's the framework in which we're laying out these findings."

Other survey discoveries showed that 66% of journalists believe innovation will be the key to any company's recovery, and 64% believe pre-occupation with the bottom line is the greatest impediment to that recovery.

"Tell (journalists) how you're going to innovate,

Middleberg advises.

"Tell them how you're going to manage change.

This approach he described as "pretty much the exact opposite of what companies did

in the past year and a half.

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