Looking Inward

Boston Globe Media and Nielsen conduct brand study


Boston Globe Media Partners, LLC recently announced the launch of a custom study that will help the organization strengthen its brand position and encourage better engagement among local communities. The organization commissioned Nielsen to execute the study, which will focus on its nearly 150-year-old newspaper, The Boston Globe, and Boston.com.

It was Peggy Byrd, who joined Boston Globe Media last year as its first chief marketing officer, who suggested the study. While she declined to share specifics, she told E&P that the organization had not done such an in-depth study “in quite a while.”

“It’s easy to assume that you know who your subscribers are because in part you do, but people change,” she said. “So, we felt that we would be doing ourselves a disservice if we did not take a moment to really understand where the Globe stood in people’s lives and the opportunity to grow with new audiences.”

Byrd and Boston Globe Media’s internal research director put together a request for proposal (RFP) that included three goals and objectives. The first was to understand how the Globe was perceived by current subscribers and the general marketplace, with an emphasis on Boston. The second goal was a deep dive on new audiences. For example, Byrd explained that the Globe’s diverse audiences were relatively small so they wanted to find out what these communities were interested in reading and also what prevented them from subscribing. Thirdly, the Globe sought information about the current media landscape and how people consumed today’s media.

The Globe reached out to research companies with their RFP and ultimately selected Nielsen as a partner because the company was prepared to not only conduct research and collect statistics, but also do a deep dive on the attitude and behavior of the audiences.

Byrd shared that the qualitative work is already complete. This phase included 90-minute interviews with nearly 40 people (done via video call). Nielsen was responsible for selecting the interviewees, which included a diverse range of ethnicities, ages, gender identities and socio-economic backgrounds. Now, the Globe is completing the quantitative work. Eventually, the results of the study will be shared with the media industry, Byrd said.

When asked what others can take away from the study, she said, “The role of local news has been under fire, and part of what this work is going to do is highlight that not only is it relevant, it’s critical. We’re also hoping that this will highlight that diversity and equity is foundational to everyday living, to reporting, to educating, and to starting a business.”

The study is just one of Boston Globe Media Partners’ many ongoing initiatives to operate through a more inclusive lens. They include the upcoming second season of “A Beautiful Resistance,” a series that features the stories of Black people living their best lives; the recent relaunch of The Emancipator, the first abolitionist newspaper in the U.S.; and the Fresh Start Initiative, which examines past crime coverage and can eliminate people’s names from search on Boston.com.


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