Lies, damn lies, and statistics: The Guardian on blog relations survey

Dominic Timms writes in today’s Guardian (reg. required) that firms are “in the dark over blog threat,” according to “the Blog Relations PR Survey”:

Nearly two-thirds of businesses have not woken up to the threat posed to their brands and reputations by disgruntled bloggers, a survey of PR professionals revealed today.

While more than 60% of PR executives interviewed believed that web blogs (sic!) by unhappy employees or exasperated customers can damage corporate reputations, but 58% said businesses were insufficiently aware of the threat. […]

The survey showed that American PR companies were ahead of their European counterparts when it came to looking at blogs.

More than 80% of US executives admitting reading blogs “at least five times a week,” a figures which fell to just 36% in Europe.

While the percents quoted by the Guardian are quite impressive, they’re misleading.

What’s missing from the article is that only 50 people participated in the survey, and that the way they were selected doesn’t allow any generalizations. In other words, there is no way to say how representative these numbers are for the PR pros from US and Europe; the numbers are relevant only for the small group of practitioners that took the survey — that’s all.

Kudos to Blog Relations for publishing the survey.

Kudos to the Guardian for writing about weblogs as a business communications tool; I hope next time they’re going to be more accurate about reporting stats.


  1. It’s tough to get people to take surveys. This is where marketing research or research and blogging intersect. To build credible survey results a survey needs more respondents. You need to build or hire a panel of people to take surveys. That’s one reason why I think that organizations like Pew Internet do such a good job.

    I did have an idea for another survey, this time surveying each blogger’s customers do find out the value of blogs to the customer. Each blogger would run the survey on their own blog, and we’d compile the results. Yes, there are huge problems with gathering this sort of data. But I think we would learn some things from the effort, and you never know it might start a movement to develop better results.

  2. Pingback: PR meets the WWW » What are the standards for reporting blog surveys?

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