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10-country study released: ComGap 2014  - 19.11.2014
Advices for international communicators

A comparison between how communication professionals and the general public interpret leadership has revealed that although there is a consensus on core issues like the value of communication, the importance of trust and the power of face-to-face interaction, there are also some differences or gaps. By utilizing this roadmap to authentic and credible positioning communicators can better understand the public’s preferences and therefore position leaders more effectively.

The ComGap 2014 study was organized by an international research team by many EUPRERA members, led by Professor Ansgar Zerfass and sponsored by Ketchum. It looks at how the public and PR professionals interpret leadership across 10 European countries. Specifically it examines the most appropriate channels through which leadership is communicated, the most important attributes of leadership, the most impactful behaviors of leadership and the most relevant use of social media. Results are presented in an European report (English) and in ten different country reports in various languages:

ComGap Report Europe

Commenting on how communication professionals and the general public view leadership, David Gallagher, senior partner and CEO of Ketchum Europe, said, “To develop a reputation for outstanding leadership, you need to look beyond the generalities and examine precisely which variables matter most. This study reveals some interesting differences between what the public looks for in leaders as well as how and where they want to receive information, and the ways communicators work to build their image and share their point of view. If communicators want their leadership campaigns to work, they need to get real.

Looking at the most important attributes of leadership, the study found that although there is strong alignment around trustworthiness, communication professionals tend to emphasize the value of innovation, management quality and financial strength whilst giving less weight than the public to the importance of customer service and environmental responsibility.

Looking at the behaviors associated with leadership, the study found that although there is a consensus on the importance of making tough decisions and admitting mistakes, communication professionals tend to underscore the value of long-term vision, achieving claims and being open and transparent, while potentially not spending enough time on issues around diversity and culture. The study suggests that communicators could also place a greater emphasis on leading by example.

The research also found that communication professionals generally still favor ‘traditional’ channels, like print interviews, personal appearances, websites and blogs, while the public favors more channels which allow for greater emotion and imagery such as TV, plus online and print advertising.

Commenting at the differences in how different European countries understand leadership, Ansgar Zerfass, coordinator of the international research team and professor at Leipzig University, said:

“The French and Italians have a particular appetite for innovation, while Scandinavians seek leaders who are able to work with different personality styles. The Dutch favour inspirational rhetoric, Austrians admire leaders who take tough decisions, whilst Spanish and Germans want to see investment in CSR. International communicators are well advised to plan their campaigns accordingly.”

About ComGap

ComGap 2014 offers insights based on the comparison of two large empirical studies. It is based on thorough academic standards, combining a representative poll among the general public in 10 European countries with a survey of 1,346 communication professionals in the same markets.  The public poll samples the views of 4,054 citizens in 10 European countries and is weighted for age and gender.  The survey of communication professionals looks at the trends of communication management across Europe and is analyzed by a group of professors from 11 leading universities.

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