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reader survey

My Kind of Opinion Polls

As the heat of summer approaches, the heat will also be turned up on the impending presidential elections and the candidates. The media will hang on every word spoken by candidates, hoping they will slip up and say something they shouldn’t. There will also be lots of polls, and you can bet the media will have much to say, no matter which side a candidate falls on.

We conduct polls for Hydraulics & Pneumatics, which we call reader surveys. Some are conducted for marketing purposes, where we ask readers which ads they remember seeing, what their habits are for using the internet, and questions about their work. Another asks readers what brand names come to mind when they think of specific components, like hydraulic hose, pneumatic cylinders, valves, or electronic controls.

The poll that hits close to home for me is our Readers’ Editorial Survey. And unlike political polls, it doesn’t vary much from one to another. In every survey I’ve seen, our “Ideas & Applications” section grabs the most reader interest—more than 90% say they usually or always read it. Readership of technical articles varies widely, depending on the topic. Surprisingly, seals consistently scores high marks. I guess this means that no matter how good seals become, designers are always looking for something a little better.

The surveys also show trends. One of our perennial questions asks if the content of H&P is too technical, not technical enough, or just right. I suppose the best distribution we could hope for would be 80% just right, 10% too technical, and 10% not technical enough. However, the trend has been shifting toward more readers stating our content is not technical enough. No surprise here—as a staff becomes smaller, it can’t produce at the same level as before.

But my favorite part of the survey is the last question, where we ask readers to submit comments in their own words. Our last survey had more than 19 pages of comments, and most comments were quite positive. Many remarked on how many years they have subscribed to H&P, how important it is to them, that it’s the only trade publication they read every month, and that they read every issue from cover to cover.

With results like this, I’d like to conduct our survey every month. But don’t worry, that will never happen.

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