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November 2, 2010
Polling Needs to Cope With Cell Phones
Here's something to be mindful of if you're considering telephone polling as a PR tool: Younger people may be unlisted because  they're using cell phones exclusively. The Pew Research Center advised recently that  "a quarter of U.S. households have only a cell phone and cannot be reached by a landline telephone."

Savvy pollsters say there are ways around this potential undercounting hazard and The Harrisburg, Pa., Patriot-News discusses some of them. But, adds The Patriot, future polling, as in the 2012 presidential election, "could begin to shift from telephone surveys to ones that use direct mailings and the Internet to make them more accurate as fewer households have landline phones."

Cell phone use “is an emerging issue confronting the whole public opinion research field,” The Patriot-News quotes Chris Borick, director of the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion, as noting. 

Just as in political polling, polling for corporate and organizational PR objectives will have to take account of the increasing reliance on cell phones with their more elusive numbers. In Pennsylvania, residents give their telephone numbers when they register to vote, and election polls use those records. But are cell phones gaining the same cachet as landlines as "numbers of record"?

Having to resort to registration records for contacts is more challenging than turning to phone books

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Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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