In December 2020, NAB and RJI partnered on a research survey to provide insight into local media’s role in vaccine deployment. Below are the key findings to help inform tactics and messaging.
When it comes to receiving news, local news (TV, radio and print) and broadcast networks are cited by respondents as the most reliable source of information. This has also been found by Pew research. In fact, Pew also found that Americans who mainly get their news on social media are less engaged and less knowledgeable.
The survey finds the most impactful local news reporting would be an investigation into the safety/effectiveness of a vaccine or recommendations focused on wearing masks, with 58% of respondents saying this type of coverage would lead them to trust that news organization more.
Six out of 10 respondents express an intent to get a COVID-19 vaccine once it becomes available to them, with just 13% of respondents saying they “definitely will not” get vaccinated. Respondents who are immune-compromised are much more likely to get vaccinated than those who are not, with almost three-quarters of immune-compromised respondents expressing an intent to get a vaccine when it becomes available.
Those who express hesitance to get the vaccine cite concerns regarding safety and efficacy. One in four cite concerns about safety as a reason they would avoid it, and more than half of all respondents worry about the thoroughness of the vaccine’s testing phase (51%), about the effectiveness of early versions of the vaccine (54%) or that the vaccine itself will make people sick (52%).
African Americans are significantly more worried (63%) than the broader public about the vaccine making people sick, and significantly less confident that it has been adequately tested (42%).
More than 3 out of 4 respondents believe wearing a face mask helps limit the spread of COVID-19 and that stay-at-home recommendations are a good way to limit the spread.
Most survey respondents worry about the economic impact of the pandemic and that their friends and family who are most vulnerable will get sick.
Respondents express a strong preference for stories that “make recommendations based on detailed reporting,” to facilitate personal health decisions, rather than stories that offer information without recommendations or personal stories from journalists about the pandemic. They express a preference for coverage that focuses on “just the facts.”
Respondents prefer messaging that highlights concern for others, such as, “Don’t put your family through the pain of losing you…” and, “Protect yourself, protect your neighbors…”. In both cases, roughly half of all respondents say they are more likely to get vaccinated as a result of seeing that message, versus just 16% who are less likely.
Respondents are most interested in hearing how the vaccine is impacting infection rates and how people are physically responding to the vaccine.
The most important voices to survey respondents are those of their own doctors and nurses (88%) followed by experts at federal, state and local health agencies (87%), their own pharmacist (82%) and friends and family (78%).
Conducted by research firm SmithGeiger in December 4-12, 2020. Surveyed adults aged 18-64 who consume at least some news media at least once a week, with census-reflective quotas for age, gender, ethnicity and geography.