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Archive for April, 2010

Kelly Murphy
4-19-10
Mass Media and Public Opinion
Reaction Paper 3

The Nielson et al article showed how healthcare and health knowledge are impacted by the availability and the use of communication technology. They conducted a survey about this and decided to keep re-administering it to people. The researchers wanted to find out about the public’s knowledge, attitude, and behaviors toward and about cancer-related health issues.
The article recognized the vast epidemic not of disease around the world, but of the flooding of information and desire for information related to health. News stories on television, in newspapers, articles in magazines, and bloggers on the internet are all communicating ideas about health and the issues we face regarding it. They believe that when people are given this necessary information, they are better equipped and better informed about making decisions regarding something as important as their own health. This information is vital in ensuring that people are given the tools to live the best life possible.
The survey used is called HINTS or the Health Information National Trends Survey. Its purpose is to assess the cancer needs in the public and divulge the information necessary to victims and others affected by the disease. It seeks to look at the current trends that are affecting the overall health status of our nation. HINTS also seeks to educate the masses in terms of health consciousness and awareness, especially with cancer research. Cancer is the most important part of the HINTS campaign.
I think this article was probably the most interesting one we have been assigned to read. It really related to real-world concerns, and it gave more than just an obscure outline of the issue at hand. The authors really addressed a concern that affects more than just people involved in politics and political affairs. It had an audience that was broader and not just a narrow, one-sided one.
I enjoyed reading about the HINTS conduct. The way the researchers are attaining the information they need is unlike most surveys. They not only are surveying the public, but are continuously doing so. I believe that this will help people to better understand the health issues that the world is facing today. This information is important for people to know so that they can be informed and able to make rational and wise decisions concerning their health. The public may be healthier as a result. When people are more educated, they are able to take precautions to prevent against certain illnesses and diseases. If precautions are too late, education can help people to take certain measures to stop the disease from spreading, and to get it under control. This is vital in promoting a healthier, more health-aware society in the present day United States life.
A really relevant example to support this article is the current health care reform bill that has been passed by President Obama. There are many polls about whether or not this was the correct measure to take and whether or not this will benefit the American public or cause it harm. There was a poll done by USA Today on March 24, 2010 that asked readers about their opinions on the new health care bill. The majority said that they believed it “is a good first step; more changes are needed.” People being informed about health care are more likely to be more aggressive in issues about their own lives.

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Kelly Murphy
Mass Media and Public Opinion
4-21-10
Reaction Paper 4

This week’s readings were about campaigns and proposals through the use of poll and communication plans to gain media and public support. Much of the initial process in presenting campaigns begins with building a communication plan and working with public relations proposals to decide what the best tactic is in promoting a campaign. These plans help researchers and other workers in the field to better master the information they seek.
The communication plan is much like a business plan, in that it lays out and gives a clear definition of what is being studied, the research that is entailed, and what the hopes are for the end product. The chapter gave an outline of what the communication plan would look like. It begins with an executive summary, highlights research needs, goals, objectives, hypotheses, and strategies. The executive summary is the first part. It is somewhat of an introduction or an abstract to the research. It tells the reader exactly what to expect. The research needs, goals, objectives, hypotheses, and strategies are comparable to the body of the paper. This shows the reader what the researchers hope to find and their predictions for the research. It then concludes with a summary of the findings and what the implications are for these findings. This conclusion sums up what was found and gives insight into the research. The implications offer suggestions for how the research may be applicable to real-world situations. It is much like a sales pitch in the sense that it shows the consumer what exactly the plan is for the “product” being promoted.
This chapter was really important to the entire book. It was a good way of ending what the book had presented in the previous chapters. The information I received is very valuable and very applicable to real life. Communication plans are likely to be used quite often in the real world. These plans determine campaigns, as well as sales pitches and other presentations. Those working in Communications related careers have to use these steps in order to perform their job correctly. Marketers will also use this information in order to sell products. Sales and advertising and public relations workers all find this information to be absolutely necessary. Without it, they will be unable to conduct research to find out about the public. The media needs this to gauge the opinion of the public.
It can be used in polling also. Polling may be a part of the communication plan. It would be most likely to fall into the research area, followed by the summary of the findings that the polls give the researcher. Polsters will use plan in order to coordinate their polls. This will help them to more effectively find their research. They will have their sights set on exactly what needs to be done. When they analyze the data, they will know what to look for, and the process will be much quicker and more concise. These plans are very useful in the sense that they organize the information at hand and create a system for going about finding the desired information.
An example that can be applied to this reading is the Business Continuity Plan Poll. This poll is done by AmalfiCORE. It uses the communication plan stated in this chapter in order to solve crisis in polling. It can help to reorganize a polling system in order to make it better, more effective, and more efficient. AmalfiCORE gives a clear vision of the implications and real-world applications of communication plans such as those that have been mentioned previously in the reaction. ABC News gave a description of AmalfiCORE as a key part of public relations and business planning.

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When there is an outbreak of a new virus that many people are unfamiliar with, or any sickness that affects a lot of people, it can cause panic, like in cases such as Swine Flu (H1N1) or the outbreak of staph infections in the last five years. This can lead the public to be overly cautious, racing to the doctor to get their immunization shots.

In Nielson’s article, “The Health Information National Trends Survey,” he puts a lot of emphasis on that the reason that so many people are becoming overly cautious is because there is so much information out there. What people do not realize is that there are viruses and infections being spread everyday all around the world and outbreaks are not an unusual occurrence. One thing that might influence the public is all of the polls. If the polls are showing that more and more people are becoming worried or scared, then it will have a greater chance of scaring the people who read those polls.

Polling about health information is very important and should be done with great care. If anything is reported wrong, or is spun in an unnecessarily negative way, it can affect a lot of people. But it is better to be safe than sorry.

Kaiser Family Foundation is an organization that specializes in health polls and surveys. They have a great reputation for publishing reliable polls. This is an excerpt from their website at http://www.kff.org. “A leader in health policy and communications, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a non-profit, private operating foundation… Unlike grant-making foundations, Kaiser develops and runs its own research and communications programs, sometimes in partnership with other non-profit research organizations or major media companies. We serve as a non-partisan source of facts, information, and analysis for policymakers, the media, the health care community, and the public. Our product is information, always provided free of charge — from the most sophisticated policy research, to basic facts and numbers, to information young people can use to improve their health or elderly people can use to understand their Medicare benefits.”

The Kaiser Family Foundation recently published a poll about the current health reform. This was conducted on March 10-15, 2010, and published on March 26, 2010. They found that 52% Democrats strongly support health reform, while 66% Republicans strongly oppose health reform. Independents were 38% strongly opposed. In total, 28% strongly support, 18% somewhat support, 9% somewhat oppose, and 33% strongly oppose. It is unclear how many people were polled, and how the poll was conducted. They also note that “Depends on which proposal (vol.), responses for total = 3% and “Don’t know/Refused” responses for total=9%.” From what I have learned, I would not take this poll seriously without doing more in depth research on who was surveyed, how the surveys were taken, and the question is too general, considering there are many aspects to the health care reform.

Health polls are extremely important because they can tell you what disease or health problems are affecting people in different regions, financial state, etc. What is a problem in one area may not be a problem in another area. For example, there is not a problem of starvation in America, but there is definitely a food shortage in areas of Africa.

In Blendon’s article “Using Opinion Survey to Track the Public’s Response to a Bioterrorist Attack,” he believes that it is important to tell Americans what to do in an emergency situation. But it is also very important that it is important for the government and health officials to know how much Americans understand and what they believe.

I feel Blendon’s article was very useful. He made me believe that it is not just up to the health officials to take control of the situation.

Rosalind Sixbey

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Tricia Dean

The chapter in Austin and Pinkleton’s book focused on the ability to prepare reports and presentations to communicate ideas and research effectively. They stressed the importance of appearing credible, successful and confident. An outline of an appropriate communications plan was laid out for the reader and Austin and Pinkleton walked through each section of the paper. They explained how the executive summary and results sections of the paper are typically the most read sections of the report because the audience may be very busy and not have enough time to read through everything. I am glad they pointed out how the results section should be written independent of the rest of the paper in case it were true that the audience only read that section. As well, they explained how to appear confident on paper and in person and to avoid using words such as “feel” or “believe”. In the end, when analyzing your reports and presentations, Austin and Pinkleton suggest being your own best critic which I thought was very good advice.
As for the APR study guide, there was a focus on research, planning, implementation and evaluation. I thought this was a good review of the majority of the topics we have discussed thus far in class. The study guide stressed the importance of the planning process within the public relations profession. They explained the 4-Step Process that involved research, planning/analysis, implementation/execution/communication and evaluation. As well, they explained how to write a proper public relations plan. I liked the idea of creating a timetable and task list to keep your project on track. I write a lot of lists so that I can visually see what I need to get done for each day, week, whatever it may be so I could relate to this aspect.
The study guide also depicted the two formats of a public relations plan: grid and paragraph. Personally, I would utilize the grid format more often because I like having the ability to quickly look over the details of each portion of the project. The study guide then portrayed the various types of research methods including survey and focus group. I enjoyed their overview of focus group research because I have had to conduct a focus group for my Market Research course.
In my opinion, the biggest piece of advice I took from today’s reading was the need to portray yourself as a confident person. I think this applies to every aspect of your life and it has been one of the most difficult things I have had to deal with while growing up. I was a very successful and competitive athlete, so on the field, I was typically a very confident person. However, for some reason, once I set foot in a classroom, I became more reserved and shy, especially when standing in front of the class. I always received good grades and this has been one of the most frustrating aspects of my educational endeavors. I am not sure if it has to deal with how passionate I feel about the subject I am presenting or how comfortable I am with the people I am presenting in front of but it is definitely something I have been working on. I hope that I continue to grow within this aspect because I will be entering the work force as an account manager after graduation. Exuding confidence and convincing clients that my solution is the one they should choose is practically in my job description. I think it will be a very interesting learning and growth process and I am excited nonetheless.
I found a poll in the New York Times that discussed the lack of confidence that New Jersey residents have in their governor candidates . I thought this was relevant to the readings because it supports the idea of portraying your thoughts and ideas in a clear, concise, and confident manner so that your audience can appropriately interpret and understand what you are saying. In the case of the New Jersey governors, they have done a poor job at convincing their voters that they are worthy of becoming their governor. A quote from the article was that “most voters think he (Mr. Christie) has not explained his positions, and among those who offer an opinion of him, twice as many dislike him as like him”. I think this goes to show that when you are not appropriately presenting your message or ideas, it can definitely backfire and put you in a negative light, depending on the context.
I think this poll story is interesting because of its relation to political candidates. Politicians are required to sell themselves more than any other profession and their entire line of work relies on their ability to get people to agree with their ideas. If the politician is not clear, concise or confident, it can cost them votes, as seen in the story. I think the readings were definitely beneficial to my own development as a presenter and I learned a lot about the need to plan before setting foot on stage, so to speak.

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Brittany Kachingwe

019:169:002

Reading Response 5

Austin & Pinkleton: Chapter 16

            In Austin and Pinkleton’s chapter on Presenting Campaigns, Program Proposals, and Research Reports, they talk about the marketing side of polls and surveys.  You could have conducted a great poll and research but in order for it to get used you have to sell it to the organization in a way that makes them interested and is understandable.  They came up with a template to be used as a generic guide for a communication plan, PR proposal or research report.  The introductory material and the executive summary are probably the most important parts of the report because it was gets the busy clients and executives interested.  I can relate to this a lot because I want to get into Sports Marketing and when you are trying to sell someone tickets they first thing you have to do is get their attention and make them interested before you can go into detail.  The executive summary gives an overall summary of the whole report so if the client never has a chance to read the whole report they can get a sense of whether or not they want to invest their time and effort into it.  The next five sections talk in depth about the research needs, goals, objectives, hypotheses’ and strategies.  It depends on what exactly the organization or agency desires when deciding how much detail to add or leave out in the research areas.  Some agencies like a lot of detail whereas some only like brief synopsis’s.  The results and conclusion comes last with a summary on how the results reflected the research goals as well as a summary of any proposed communication plans.

APR Study Guide: p 37-73

            The APR Study Guide goes more depth with what needs to be included in the planning of public relations programs.  Planning and research are important parts because you can greatly increase your chance of success by knowing exactly what you are going to do and how you are going to go about it.  The four-step process for planning includes research, planning/analysis, implementation/

execution/communication, and evaluation .  The research addresses who they want to reach and what messages they want communicated.  The planning includes goals, audiences, objectives, strategies and tactics.  I think this reading compliments the Austin and Pinkleton reading because engaging the client and planning for the client are two extremely important aspects of polls and marketing research.

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Tim McLaughlin

4/22/2010

019:169:002 Introductory Topics Mass Communication

Qingjiang Yao

Reaction Paper 4

Polls and Marketing Research

Summary of Readings
Explore Guide Star Research’s website:
In this reading, Guide Star Research describes how they can help their customers and what they specialize in. Guide Star Research specializes in measuring and diagnosing relationships for businesses through the powerful tool of a survey or through consulting. This particular page lays out the wide array of services that the company provides. For example, a business could purchase Guide Star Research’s “Customer Loyalty & Satisfaction Survey.” This survey, as the title states, would measure the businesses customer satisfaction level and determine how loyal the customer is to the business. This vital knowledge will allow the business to increase “new business, repeat business and referrals,” which will allow the business continued success no matter their specialty. Finally, a business could purchase Guide Star Research’s “Communication Audit” product. This will allow for an unbiased, removed report on the efficiency of the businesses internal and external communication. Guide Star Research has been around for more than 15 years and their expertise in marketing research and consulting is evident.
Explore USC Annenberg PR GAP Studies website:
In the PR GAP study that I analyzed, I found that they reviewed characteristics of many different types of businesses and industries. For example, the study differentiated between public and private companies in one section and in another, they differentiated between government and nonprofit agencies as it pertains to their public relations practices. The result that I found most interesting in the study was that the data suggests, “The imperative to evaluate PR spending and activity now has equal footing in organizations of all types and sizes.” However, of the companies surveyed, it should be noted that only 5-7% of their averages expenditures came from public relations expenses. According to the authors of the survey, this suggests that public relations companies are not doing enough to demonstrate their value.
Point to Agree/Disagree With
It is of no surprise to me that Guide Star Research seems to be experiencing success. The products that they offer—surveys and consulting—are demanded by companies that value their customers and employees. It would be tough to find a company out there that does not at least value one of those two groups of people and it will always be that way. Therefore, Guide Star Research has a sustainable model. Specifically with regard to their customer satisfaction and loyalty product, they should have many customers themselves. It behooves businesses who are serving clients on a daily basis to know what their clients are thinking and whether or not they are satisfied. If they are not satisfied, it is unlikely that the businesses will know this. One of the best ways to find out for sure is to purchasing a product like Guide Star Research’s and with the results the businesses will be fully equip to reevaluate what they’re doing based on their customers’ needs and preferences.
Supporting Poll Story
During the month of June 2009, the US Bankruptcy Court in the Northern District of Illinois conducted its annual customer satisfaction survey. The survey consisted of 10 questions and it was taken by 374 customers of the Court. This is an example of a question: “I was able to get my court business done in a reasonable amount of time.” The Court’s goal was to have an 80% overall satisfaction rating and to not score below 4.0, on average, for each of the ten questions. They achieved each of their goals and in the published results even went so far as to list steps corrective of action that the Court will take based on the results of this survey.
The link for the story on the survey is here: http://www.ilnb.uscourts.gov/Announcements/Survey_Results.pdf

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Nathan Weigel
4/22/10
Proposals and Reports
The first material I read for today was Presenting Campaigns, Program Proposals, and Research Reports by Austin and Pinkleton. This chapter discusses the steps of presenting presentations to clients regarding the research you found on the topic. There are two ways to present your material: written and oral. Some people prefer proposals in written format with a lot of detail, while others prefer a less detailed outline format. The parts of the proposal include introductory material, an executive summary, a situation analysis and explanation of research needs, a list of research goals, a list of research objectives, a statement of research hypotheses, an explanation of research strategies, a description of the research results, a revised situation analysis that provides an explanation of the implications of the research findings, a proposed communication plan, a conclusion, and any relevant references and appendixes.
Communication plans often start out with a brief cover letter, sometimes called a transitional letter. The cover letter often takes the form of a memo. The cover letter states that the proposal requested is submitted. The letter expresses appreciation to clients for the opportunity to work with them. The cover letter invites the client to contact the agency with questions or concerns and provides contact names; phone numbers fax numbers, and e-mail addresses as listed. This part of the process includes a title page that entails the client’s name, the agency or departments name, the date, and a title identifying the purpose of the report. This introductory material must also include a table of contents. This table consists of separate lists of tables and figures so that clients can find the material they are looking for quickly.
After the introductory material is the executive summary. This addresses the needs of the busy clients and executives who want to learn critical information at a glance. Many of these clients may not have the time to sit down and read the whole report word for word, so executive reports sum up what the report is stating. The executive summary acts as 75 to 125-word paper to synopsize complicated procedures and findings. Although this is the average length of an executive summary, some summaries can go on for 10 to 25 pages. The purpose of the executive summary is to present the purpose of the report or proposal, the procedures used to evaluate and address the needs presented by the situation, the findings of the research performed, the conclusions drawn from the research, and an overview of the specific plans of action.
The situation analysis section discusses the understanding the agency has for the issue and situation being researched. This section gives the agency an opportunity to explain to the clients why the research was beneficial and necessary. This section starts off with just stating the problem. It then summarizes everything known about the client and the issue. This includes the client’s mission, history, personnel and decision-making structure, locations, facilities, and other projects. The next step in the campaign proposal is the presentation of research goals. This section must explain the purpose of the research. Some explanation of the goals can be provided but this section usually requires 1 page or less. The research objectives are presented in a formal objective style in an outline. These objectives state what research was performed in response to the research goals. The research hypothesis provides insight into what answers the manager may expect to find, along with reasons for these expectations. The research strategies require a thorough explanation of the methods used to collect data. Because every research project suffers from some sort of limitation, it is important for the client to know why research you chose is the right choice given the circumstances. Once the results are evaluated and discussed, the agency comes up with a revised situation analysis based on the results. Along with that, they come up with a proposed communication plan based on information previously learned. Then it is wrapped up with a 1 to 2-page conclusion that will look long term at the client’s needs and challenges, and the best way to go about achieving these goals.
The second reading we read for today is called Examples of Customer Satisfaction Questionnaires by Bob Hayes. This chapter discusses examples of customer satisfaction questionnaire development in three service businesses: newspaper publishers, dental offices, and coffee shops. This article is going to explain how surveys differ a bit from service to service.
The first example the book talks about is the patient satisfaction survey among dental patients from a large dental company. This survey was designed to provide feedback regarding patient’s perceptions regarding the quality of insurance the company provided to its customers. The first part in developing their questionnaire was to look at old questionnaires to determine what content should be carried on to their new survey. Based on past material and new, the dental team wanted to achieve four primary goals when developing their survey. These goals are: the survey was short, the survey provided specific feedback to the dentists, the survey comprehensively covered the important quality factors identified in literature review, and the survey included items that assessed patient satisfaction with the insurance company itself, not just dental care. To improve the response rate of the survey, the dental company would donate 1$ to a charity of the patients choosing for every survey returned. The company received 16,042 completed patient satisfaction surveys. The overall average of the survey was a four on a five-point scale.
The next survey took place with a much smaller company than the dental one. The Parent, is a small newspaper filled with articles about children. The purpose of the reader survey was to provide the publisher with reader demographics and information about lifestyles and shopping habits. Their survey team consisted of the owner of the publishing company and a survey consultant. Like the dental survey, the newspaper survey used some material from the survey conducted in the previous year. The survey was conducted in the newspaper itself. The readers just had to fill it out and send it in. The newspaper offered an incentive to those who turned in their surveys. There was a drawing for completed surveys and a chance to win prizes. A total of 201 people completed the survey. The overall average was above a 4, which meant that customers were generally satisfied with the newspaper.
And the third survey discussed reflects a coffee shop company. The company wanted to determine the quality of products and services it provides to its customers in order to increase levels of customer satisfaction. They focused primarily on customers who purchased coffee and other items on different locations. Their survey team consisted of the president of the company, and other corporate representatives of the company. A total of 100 people were surveyed total. After gathering the results, the overall dissatisfaction came from five dimensions. They were: wait time, barista friendliness, food quality, price, and coffee drink flavor. If customer’s scores were low, corporate headquarters sent out a letter of apology to them. The survey continued to improve and after the first three quarters the company totaled 985 completed surveys, with almost all of them above satisfaction.
Guide Star is a company that helps companies conduct research and help them build better relationships with their customers, employees, distributor and dealer network, investors, and anybody else involved in the company. This company specializes in conducting a wide variety of surveys to help companies understand their surroundings a little bit better.
The main point I got out of the reading for today is how important it is for companies to conduct surveys. It lets the company know where they are sitting with their customers and gives them ideas of how to improve their services. One company that does a great job with surveying their customers is Microsoft. They strive to a continuing development of customer satisfaction. Here is a link to show how Microsoft evaluates their performance through customer surveys: http://www.microsoft.com/ireland/grs/

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