Holmes Report Blog

The Holmes Report blog focuses on news and issues of interest to public relations professionals. Our main site can be found at www.holmesreport.com.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

A Productive Survey: Since I wrote a lengthy article in last week’s newsletter about the PR industry’s use of specious surveys to generate news coverage, I can’t let this example of genre go unremarked.

U.K. cell-phone company Vodafone confidently predicts that 10 million workers will “up their game” today ahead of England’s match versus Trinidad and Tobago, boosting productivity by 27.7 percent, and that six million employees (24 percent) will be working harder, smarter and faster throughout the World Cup, increasing the country’s GDP by ₤1.83 billion.

How did Vodafone arrive at this conclusion? It asked workers if they planned to work harder and be more productive. Astonishingly, very few respondents indicated that they would in fact be lounging around, sneaking out of work early, or spending half their time surfing the Internet looking for news of Wayne Rooney’s fitness. And Vodafone—no cynics there—has accepted the British public’s insistence that it will be diligent and productive during the World Cup.

Entirely by coincidence, Vodafone offers a World Cup update service on its phones. So this survey is doubly good news: it earns the company free publicity and it surely soothes the concerns of any boss who might have worried that those updates would distract their employees.

The release was picked up Computer Weekly, Online Recruitment, and… The Financial Times. In fact the PR people will be able to claim that it got their client on the front page of the FT, albeit as a single paragraph at the end of larger story on the Amicus union’s tips for “taking a sickie” in order to get home in time for the 6pm kick-off.


  • At 6:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Responding to your blog (not the longer article) I wanted to raise one thought.

    Yes these may be fairly nonsensical surveys, but at the end of the day it is journalists and editors who decide whether the survey's are going to form the basis of news stories, not PRs.

    Here in the UK I have little doubt that as the summer 'silly season' rolls in we will see a plethora of survey based stories in the media- they provide easy copy and can form a great hook for a story.

    So long as they continue to generate coverage for clients PR agencies will continue to manufacture spurious surveys.

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