Headlines And Half Empty

Part of how we approach business – and life, for that matter – is the spin we choose to put on things.  Some of how we make up our own minds is from the words others use to describe things.  For example, if I won the lottery, the headline might be “Man Wins Lottery, Set For Life.”  The headline could also be “Man Hit With Enormous Unexpected Tax Bill, Owes Millions.”  Far fetched?1379508733538

Let’s take how a single publication handled the reporting of one piece of information in two different articles.  I should state upfront that I have no issue with either of these headlines nor with the articles.  I’m using them to illustrate a point.  The publication is MediaPost, and I read almost a dozen of their newsletters each day – they provide great information.  The story was a study Nielsen did on viewers using Twitter while they’re watching TV.  You can read Nielsen’s own release on the topic by clicking through on this link.  You might be able to tell from the graphic how Nielsen portrayed their findings.

On to the two articles.  One was headlined “Tweeting Doesn’t Spike During Commercials” while the other stated “TV Viewers Use Twitter During Ads.” Same study, same publication, same day.  A quick glance at the headlines might make you think that viewers don’t break away during commercial breaks; the other might lead you to believe the opposite.  One article says

Good news for TV programmers: TV viewers use Twitter during their TV programming — showing lots of engagement, according to analysts. The bad news? Many are also tweeting during commercials.

while the other says

The takeaway is that viewers using Twitter as a second-screen platform are tweeting consistently throughout the airtime for programming and ads alike. TV advertisers might still prefer that viewers’ attention was fixed on the larger screen during breaks, but it’s not as if they signal the start of a tweeting blitz. All airtime is tweet time.

My point is that we always need to dig a little deeper into the facts before we draw conclusions and we should always get to the source material when we can.  In this case, the Nielsen study.  In other cases a sales report, a deal memo, or other things about which we often learn from others who will bring their own point of view as they report the “facts.”   Needless to say, the principle applies outside of the business world as well.

Make sense?

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Filed under Helpful Hints, Reality checks

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