Improving the Perception of Nielsen in Diverse Communities

Don is the Senior Vice President of Community Engagements, based in New York City. Don has been involved in the creation and development of External Advisory Councils (EACs), which comprises three professional groups representing the African-American, Hispanic/Latino and Asian Pacific American communities.

In my day-to-day work at Nielsen, I never lose sight of the fact that the fundamental success of our business depends on our ability to have consumers voluntarily share information, much of it highly personal, about themselves and their families. One of the more important assets we have that helps us achieve that goal is our External Advisory Councils (EACs), which comprises three groups of professionals representing the African-American, Hispanic/Latino and Asian Pacific American communities. The council members come from a wide variety of backgrounds and they have helped us understand how we can best develop cooperation within communities of color.

The African-American, Hispanic Latino and Asian Pacific American councils were formed in response to accusations that Nielsen’s television audience measurement did not accurately  represent communities of color. The charges led to a sweeping review of our methodology and  practices, including how Nielsen was perceived in African-American, Hispanic and Asian communities. We learned that that there was not a high degree of recognition of Nielsen in these communities, which resulted in a low level of trust.

We selected a group of media professionals, business and civic leaders, community activists and members of the faith-based community to voluntary serve on the councils. Many of the members of the councils had been vocal public critics of Nielsen’s record in measuring the viewing habits of communities of color. The councils offered scores of recommendations of how we could encourage more cooperation from African-American, Hispanics and Asian-Americans. Their recommendation ranged from changes in our marketing and outreach materials, training of our membership and field representatives, composition of our workforce, Nielsen’s supplier diversity program and our ongoing outreach to communities of color.

I’ve been deeply involved with the EACs since their creation 11 years ago and working with them, and my colleagues who have been engaged with the councils, has been tremendously rewarding personally and professionally. Our work with the council was sometimes contentious, but we listened and learned. Thanks to the willingness of many of our senior leaders to engage with the councils, Nielsen is a better company today than it was when the councils began working with us. The EACs have had an enormous impact on Nielsen internally and externally, improving the products and services we provide our clients and enhancing the experience of our associates. Today, the councils continue their important work with us and are helping us navigate the increasingly complex world of consumer measurement.

As I look back on the more than a decade of work we have done with the councils, I am deeply grateful for having to opportunity to work with dozens of talented, interesting and inspirational leaders who have been so devoted to ensuring that the voices of African-Americans, Hispanics and Asians are heard in all areas in media. For me, the councils epitomized that constructive engagement between parties coming from different places can lead to great achievement. It has been especially rewarding to see many of my Nielsen colleagues grow professional and personally as a result of their work with the councils. They have been exposed to the thoughts and experiences of African-Americans, Hispanics and Asian-Americans that have enlightened them. Working with the EACs will always rank at the top of my experiences at Nielsen.