Australian brand messages fall short

22 June 2011

SYDNEY: Advertisers in Australia face a "message gap" between the way they portray themselves and how they are depicted by the media, a study has found.

A new study from Burson-Marsteller, the PR network, suggested that Australian firms suffer from a 74% "message gap", a larger disparity than the international average of 48%.

The frequent reliance on jargon-filled, fact-light corporate communications was partly blamed for such findings, as they were widely ignored by media outlets.

For the report, the researchers tracked the coverage of six Australian companies in the media over a three month period, and compared these stories with the corporate communications released by the firms themselves at the same time.

Commenting on the results, Brian West, Burson-Marsteller managing director, said: "Australian firms need to take a strategic approach to their communication.

"For the media component of the strategy, that means having a clear understanding of the changing media landscape, how messages are reported, and a commitment to adapt to what's required to ensure their desired messages get through."

Recognising the impact of the digital revolution on the media consumption of Australian consumers should be a particular priority among local companies, the Burson-Marsteller report added.

This is because bloggers - a crucial component of today's media landscape - tend to ignore "jargon", meaning that firms should leave out "corporate speak" in their communications.

Australian companies also need to avoid "greenwashing" - overblown environmental or sustainability claims.

"Firms need to back up their CSR promises with facts to ensure they get traction," the Burson-Marsteller report added.

Data sourced from WPP; additional content by Warc staff