Strategic Insight

RULES OF THE GAME

Online information is available in real-time and on a permanent basis
The Internet gives access to an unlimited number of information resources from anywhere and at any moment. It incites interaction and comparison on any type of issue, local or global.

Information is amassed, repeated, and not easily recycled
Online information spreads in a completely different way to traditional media, piling up instead of being replaced. Today's news builds up on yesterday's in a process "online sedimentation" where ideas, trends and stories can snowball.

Content is radical, often controversial and strongly oriented
Whereas traditional media outlets favour consensus, balanced and tempered arguments, and leverage the legitimacy of companies and institutions, the Internet is the destination of choice for contestation and pathos-based reasoning. This new logic is exacerbated by ‘sharing’ on social networks, which increases the virality and ultimate impact of aggressive content.

Information is unstructured and often anonymous
Online information is mostly "user generated content"*: anyone can freely and anonymously publish on information platforms with large audiences, which has led to the emergence of new opinion leaders. Thus, diverse publications of varying quality are available on the Internet without any established hierarchy or verified reliability. Checking the trustworthiness of information and joining public debates therefore becomes more difficult.

THE NEW "ONLINE PUBLIC OPINION"

Since the 2010's, the Internet has become the world’s most influential medium. It often leads stories and can be considered a strong amplifier of traditional media. European public affairs professionals, for example, rank national newspapers and digital media as equally useful for obtaining industry information.

The interdependence of off-line and on-line media has grown tremendously in recent years. Most opinion leaders, notably journalists, now collect the majority of their information online.

The balance of power has also been reversed on the Web, with a minority of very active users rapidly and efficiently delivering simplistic or incendiary content. They often succeed in influencing a majority of online users who seek information by relying on the first results of Google search pages. Therefore, a few online influencers can lead the entirety of online opinion on all kinds of issues.

The share of local and personal views, as well as controversial activist positions, clearly increases online. From isolated Web users to established groups, real-life public opinion is directly influenced by online public opinion. The Internet empowers civil society on all major public issues.

Thus, an asymmetry in information delivery can be observed: while a few minor activists can easily spread their arguments online, most major companies and organizations remain silent and cannot cope with regular online attacks on their issues. How should they join the online public debate in such conditions?

TARGETING INFORMATION SOURCES

WIKIPEDIA The number one source of online information, unavoidable despite questions over its reliability.
MEDIA Somewhere between journalism and blogs, they offer opinionated information and often reach larger audiences than those associated with traditional media.
BLOGS Platforms for personal expression where information activists often publish. Activists can be genuine specialists or anonymous amateurs.
SOCIAL NETWORKS Beyond their intimate nature, online social networks are opinion formers and effective tools for quick spreading multimedia content.
FORUMS Exchange platforms between interest communities bringing together experts and novice Web users.
COMMENTS Provide complementary information that sometimes contradicts the author's opinion.

INFOWARS

iStrat's belief is that it is still possible to react to and to participate in online public debates, or ‘infowars’, by generating suitable content to balance (or counterbalance) the most visible existing online content. Our content offers positive and informative insights on a range of online platforms so as to gain influence on key, specific, controversial and long-term public issues.

From major controversies impacting society at large to specific local debates, all contentious issues are now extending online, such as:

  • Environmental concerns: GMOs, nuclear power, CO2 emissions, shale gas, oil spills, climate change…
  • Healthcare: Cell phone radiation, Tamiflu, treatments for pandemics, contraceptive pills, Bisphenol A…
  • Privacy: Personal data protection, identity theft, email phishing…
  • Justice: Corruption, accounting scandals, frauds, arbitration…
  • Economy: Financial crises, wages, golden handshakes, business-politics collusion, state intervention…
  • Diversity: Combating racism and discrimination, religious opinions…
  • Politics: Political debates, European referenda, taxes, wars, workers unions vs. top management debates…

Know How and Expertise

ONLINE ADVOCACY AND E-LOBBYING

EXPERTISE
THE INTERNET AS AN ESSENTIAL TOOL FOR YOUR STRATEGY

1. Consulting:
  • Effectively use the Internet as an influence tool to complement or strengthen existing instruments.
  • Implement, evaluate and improve online response capabilities for commercial deployment or crisis situations.
  • Train managers and their teams in emerging issues in the domain of online opinion.
2. Online monitoring and studies:
  • Undertake qualitative, sector-based monitoring on targeted web-related issues in an international context (Europe, United States, Gulf States and emerging countries) with a focus on deciphering cultural obstacles and processes.
  • Conduct online visibility audits and progressive mappings of the links between key actors and stakeholder communities.
3. Creation of specialised media platforms:
  • Create trusted media sources on particular subjects in order to increase influence among interest communities.
  • Maximise visibility potential on search engines.
  • Manage a substantial share of the information produced and consulted online on strategic issues in order to produce an enhanced image.
  • Produce original, credible, quality multimedia content.
4. Grassroots campaigning and community activism:
  • Direct or facilitate shifts in public opinion.
  • Spread persuasive and informative messages to help improve understanding or leverage information.
  • Diffuse ideas via telephone and email campaigns.
  • Organise fundraising campaigns and manage online recruitment operations.
  • Create and promote online petitions and surveys.

Our Targets

We analyse and reach out to different communities, both specialist and generalist: journalists and other media professionals, consumers, analysts, political activists, workers' unions, professional associations, international and national lobbies, business competitors, hackers, diplomatic bodies…

  • Journalists: They choose to enhance existing topics. The tone of their analysis often both depends on what’s generating a ‘buzz’ and what Web users publish.
  • General Public: The Internet is a mass media tool that enables anyone to access information quickly and free of charge, allowing users to feel free from official or corporate narratives.
  • Politicians: Pay close attention to the ‘mood’ of the Web, increasingly partaking in online debates themselves. Political leaders increasingly collect both their ideas and justifications from the Internet on all public issues. Digital information is widely viewed by politicians, regulators and their assistants, thus influencing thinking at the highest levels.
  • Communities: Gathered around common interests and shared priorities, they embody powerful "information hubs", and play a major role in the orientation of online information. They can easily alter or highlight information, placing it in a positive or negative light.
  • Companies: Use the Web for various goals such as risk evaluation, business exposure, whether for themselves, their partners or their competitors. Nearly 90% of European public affairs professionals rate digital sources of information as extremely useful for lobbying. Traditional media scores about 75%, making digital media the 5th most useful source of information for European public affairs professionals.