Online vs. phone surveys, the surge in PSAs, more

What are the pros and cons of conducting a survey online versus on the telephone?

What are the pros and cons of conducting a survey online versus on the telephone?

When online surveys were first published in the late 1990s, they met with some skepticism and media resistance, says Laura Light of Harris Interactive.

But today, with the broader use of the Internet and the use of appropriate sampling techniques, Light says online interviewing by an experienced firm may yield results that are as good as or better than those obtained by telephone.

"In general, telephone interviewing offers a more traditional method; therefore, some media may be more inclined to report on the findings," she explains. A probability sample may be used so there is not the bias there might be with a panel or membership list as to how a respondent became part of the sample.

She adds that telephone interviewing allows for analysis by groups that are less well-represented online, and the format allows the interviewer to probe or clarify responses.

Alternatively, online interviewing tends to be less expensive, faster, and offers a more convenient medium for respondents who are busy or hard-to-reach, she notes.

"The key factors to consider in deciding on your methodology are sample definition and questionnaire content," says Light. "Both of which inform which methodology - online or telephone - will be a better fit."


Why are PSAs gaining popularity?

"We're finding there's a surge in both radio and TV PSAs for several reasons," says Zcomm VP and former ABC correspondent John Butler. They include the marked decline in VNRs, a slowdown in SMTs, and the flexibility of PSAs in the marketplace.

"Though they take longer to get into rotation on stations, the PSAs we produce are broadcast for weeks - even months - generating millions of impressions," he adds.

Finding the right topic is key. "Community, social responsibility, finance literacy, and health angles are all good PSA topics," he suggests. "If they can be timed with a special observance, such as American Heart Month, they can be broadcast throughout that month."

Butler notes, "PSAs are more highly produced than radio or video news releases, often using graphics and music. The added benefit to clients, beyond the frequent broadcasts, is that we can repurpose the audio or video from the PSAs and run them in stores, on Web sites, and in fitness clubs or airports to amortize initial production costs.

He suggests recording multiple custom taglines and promos for stations, reinforcing clients as good corporate citizens, which can maximize coverage for them.

Comms training

What are some strategies I can use to suggest formal coaching to an executive who has the lackluster communications skills necessary for advancing his career?

Jeff Braun of The Ammerman Experience suggests looking for opportunities, such as a board presentation, to advocate bringing in a coach.

"Make sure you find someone he will have a connection with; someone of the same age [group] and gender are good places to start," he advises. "Question the coach about his or her approach and philosophy to make sure it's a good match, and ask for references."

If you make the right choice, notes Braun, the relationship will pay dividends as his communications skills improve.

Send your questions to Please contact Lisa LaMotta if you are interested in contributing to PR Toolbox or to suggest ideas for future columns.

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