The Media Mix Federal Decision Makers Are Consuming Today

Earlier this month I attended an interesting panel discussion looking at new research analyzing the media consumption of federal decision-makers. The event took place on June 5 at the Gannett Conference Center in Mclean, Virginia.

The report was conducted by custom research firm Market Connections and TMP Government. The research documented that government decision-makers are accessing information in increasingly complex and fragmented ways.

Companies looking to reach these decision-makers need to make sure they are accounting for print, digital, mobile and social media platforms in their communications plans.  More than 3,700 federal respondents replied to the surveys.

Here are some of the more interesting data points in the report:

  • Mobile device usage is significantly up.  Eighty percent of government decision-makers are now using smartphones, up from 73% in 2013 and 63% in 2012.
  • Print is still not dead! Federal decision-makers are still reading print publications, with 40% saying they had no preference between print and online and 19% reading only printed content, as compared to 21% in 2013.
  • Shrinking travel and events budget translate to more webinars.  Due to the current budget climate, 69% of defense and 68% of the civilian respondents are traveling out of town less. In addition, 59% of civilian and 58% defense respondents are attending fewer conference and seminars. Meanwhile, 33% of defense and 57% of civilian respondents are participating in more webinars.
  • Social media use has continued to level off. Survey respondents reported use of Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube remaining about the same as in 2013. Fifty seven percent use Facebook, 41% use LinkedIn and 47% use YouTube.

The sponsoring firms also put together a stellar panel of senior level marketing executives, including:

  • Patrick Burn, senior director, U.S. public sector marketing at NetApp;
  • Nettie Johnson, vice president, marketing communications at Lockheed Martin;
  • Mark Meudt, vice president, communications and marketing at General Dynamics Information Technology (GDIT);
  • Rebecca Umberger, director, public sector marketing for Dell Software.

The panel discussion added context and color to these metrics, with the speakers giving their take on the current challenge of public sector marketing.

All of the panelists agreed that sequestration, continuing budget resolutions and defense cuts have made many companies more cautious with their federal marketing dollars. Branding remains important, a point made strongly by Johnson from Lockheed Martin in particular. But it needs to be public sector specific: all panelists agreed the branding done by corporate doesn’t usually fit for public sector.

Umberger talked about today’s environment demanding a more integrated approach to all marketing elements, and how publishers today are eager to be seen as part of the team. All of the panelists agreed that taking a more “newsroom” model of content distribution was required today in the public sector.

NetApp’s Burns made some interesting comments about marketers challenging themselves in multiple ways. He talked about the need to explain a vision to customers that reflects their needs, and not just today but 5 or 10 years out.

“The way government executives consume media is continuing to shift in the same directions as consumers – through multiple channels,” said Market Connections President and CEO Lisa Dezzutti. “As such, the days of focusing media buying on just print and radio have gone by the wayside. To keep up with this new media landscape, contractors need to develop highly diverse strategies for influencing potential government buyers.”

For more information on the study, a detailed overview of the results is available for download (registration required) at www.marketconnectionsinc.com/mediastudy