A few days ago I blogged (in Swedish) about a survey made by Polachi & Company, Inc. (here Polachi). I first learned about it when listening to For Immediate Release #249 (FiR). Through their shownotes I also found the article by Wallen Immen that FiR presumably was referring to. I suggest you check Immen’s piece before you go ahead reading the current post.

Now, pause and make your mind up what you think about the survey results…

Before we continue. Please do not misunderstand me here. The data I discuss is really interesting and valuable. I am very grateful for that the involved parties have done their things. I just want to highlight the importance, and value, of source criticism. For one thing, 18 is less than 168 – or even 1001, but still more than null. Furthermore, the positive qualitative data is of great value, especially as negative data is kind of negible.

The main point I wanted to share with my Swedish readers were findings from the study that seemed to report the, very positive, experiences from 168 executives at small and medium sized enteprises. My academic reflexes made me go off and try to check the story before I repurposed the data published by Wallen. This is something journalists are supposed to always do. A habit that would separate them from bloggers (and make journalist better). Needless to say, I believe that paid main stream media journalist seldom check the facts (anymore), nor do they put the stories in context. That does not mean ”never do” – it means ”seldom”.  I guess one reason is that source criticism, fact checking, and contextualisations takes time and money.

[Update 2007-06-20] Swedish Television (SvT) today publish a short news story that their news show Rapport is the best pod-TV show in Sweden (Rapport bästa podd-tv). They echo the fact that they last week were awarded the prize Svenska Podradiopriset 2007 in the category ”pod-tv incl. best vodcast/vcast/vlog”. Morgan Olofsson, Rapport’s chief ,says: ”
It is truly fun to win this prize. In particular because it is the audience that have voted for us (my translation).” True, Rapport got 138 of the 195 votes casted on the four voter-generated nominees. But the way the competition/nominees is arranged and executed means in my view that the awards to a very little extent reflect how savvy podcast users assess the Swedish offerings. The prize survey is far from scientific research, which according to Swedish law should support similiar claims if they were presented in advertising format. [end of update]

Anyway, Polachi provided no further info about the survey on their web site. A few tries with Google just pointed back to Wallen’s piece (from different places). But at Polachi’s contact page I found an e-mail address, which I used to ask for further info. Then I went ahead and posted my thoughts here in weconverse. I sort of did not expect that anyone from Polachi would respond. In my post I added some good executive examples I knew about earlier. I also made a note on that I had not seen the original Polachi report.

Less than four hours after I sent my mail I got a response from Liz Bradley, working with Kel & Partners, Polachi’s PR agency. That was fast! In addition she had attached both the Polachi survey (pdf) and the Polachi press release (pdf). Another round of e-mail and I got her permission to publish those documents here. For some reason neither they, nor Polachi, publish that stuff. Strange…

So what did I learn by reading the report? A lot! For one thing, the web survey was sent to 1001 respondents, of which 168 responded. Of those 18 were bloggers, and therefore the base of the data reported. I still do not know anything about which enterprises they, or the larger sample, represent. Of course that information would provide added value. Even so, in hindsight I would have published my post. But of course with a remark about the small size of the base as well as with the suggestion to ”read the reports”.

I guess that from a PR point of perspective, any survey will still do if you want to get media, including podcasts and blogs, attention and dissemination. But we should also try to pull out more than we are initially fed with. Doing so we, for example in this case, also know that six SME executives are motivated by the joy of blogging.

(I am very well aware of that the actors, respondents, and documents discussed here might not exist at all. If the data was a matter of life and death I would check the sources further.)

[Update 2007-06-25] Neo reports (in Swedish) interesting results of some fact checking/source criticism regarding a big Swedish news story about a government minister and his questionable University degree. Any main stream media journalist could/should have done that check.