Data: It’s Not a Four-Letter Word

Data. Most marketers love it. Most consumers dread, even hate it. So it is no surprise that Pew Research Center’s recent survey revealed that most Americans failed a short test of their digital knowledge.

Younger participants and those with bachelor’s degrees or higher performed better than their counterparts. And while participants knew about phishing scams and cookies, it’s scary that those percentages of 67% and 63%, respectively, were barely above passing.

The survey sampling was representative of the U.S. population, taking into account both age and ethnicity. The survey sampling was proportionate to our population.

The only other area in which respondents passed, if just barely, was in knowing that advertising was the biggest revenue source for most social media platforms, with 59% getting that right.

The final telling factor, and the most alarming, was the mean score. It was just four out of 10.

What role do leaders have in data management?

The results suggest consumers are skeptical about any online information and materials they receive, whether it’s from your organization or one they don’t recognize. For example, less than half of respondents — 48% — know what privacy contracts are.

Even scarier is that only 30% said they know what ‘https://’ means (as opposed to ‘http://’). And only 24% of participants understand what two-factor authentication is.

It’s imperative leaders gain and maintain the trust of your customers. You can begin by assisting them in learning what your company is doing to protect them and their privacy. In communications, invest more effort in teaching them about your organization’s privacy contract and reassure them that any information they share will be safe and protected.

“Gain and maintain the trust of your customers by assisting them in learning what your company is doing to protect them and their privacy.”

Educate customers beyond what they can do and expect from your company. Tell them how they should respond to suspected invasions of their privacy and to whom they should report such violations. The survey makes it evident that more consumer education is needed.

If you require or encourage two-factor authentication, explain to your customers why this is so important. If you’re not using this yet, consider it, especially if you’re gathering financial or other personal information. Consider whether a customer’s heightened awareness of two-factor authentication and your encouragement to utilize it would increase their confidence in your organization.

Think about this: if the mean score for the Pew survey was only four out of 10, how would most of your employees, not including the marketing department, score? Would they pass? And even if they did, might they, too, benefit from receiving more information?

Chances are your employees could use more and better information. Certainly, those who work on the front line and in customer service would appreciate having this added information. Be sure to cover all the bases.

Be seen as a leader internally and externally!

Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5W Public Relations, one of the 10 largest independently-owned PR firms in the United States. With over 20 years of experience crafting and executing powerful narratives, Torossian is considered one of America's most prolific and well-respected public relations professionals. Since founding 5WPR in 2003, he has led the company's growth, overseeing more than 175 professionals in the company's headquarters in the iconic Helmsley Building in Manhattan. Torossian's roster of client experience includes work for L'Oréal, Unilever, Walgreens, SAP NS2, Sparkling Ice, KRUPS, Zeta Global, Sinclair Broadcast Group, Wendy Williams, and others. He also has represented top global brands including Coca-Cola, McDonald's and Microsoft. He was named the American Business Awards PR Executive of the Year and Entrepreneur of the Year and Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year semi-finalist. An expert on crisis communications, Torossian has lectured on crisis PR at Harvard Business School, has appeared on CNN & CNBC, was named to PR Week's 40 under Forty list, is a contributing columnist for Forbes and the New York Observer, and his book, For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results With Game-Changing Public Relations is an industry best-seller.