Excellent news: Frank Ovaitt is joining us….here is his first post on new research linking media coverage and business outcome

The dynamic and effective Ceo of the Institute for Public Relations has agreed to join prconversations.
Excellent news, so we add yet another member to our group representing the US.

“Exploring the Link Between Share of Media Coverage and Business Outcomes,” the second of two papers by Angie Jeffrey (VMS), David Michaelson (David Michaelson & Company), and Don Stacks (University of Miami), builds on an earlier work that may be familiar to regular readers of the IPR’s website. In that previous work, the authors convincingly demonstrated several things about media coverage and business results: volume matters, tone matters, and message matters.

So, with a database of more than 10 million news articles, and appropriate business outcome data from a variety of sources, the researchers set out to look at correlations with competitive share of media coverage among key players in a given market.

Advertising people have long looked at “Share of Voice” as a measure of their influence in the marketplace. PR people sometimes use similar measures of media coverage versus their competitors. But the authors, leaving nothing to faith, wanted to determine how well “Share of Discussion” – incorporating both quantity and quality of an organization’s non-paid media compared with competitors – actually related to desired business outcomes.

The four cases presented in the paper involve: a major regional medical center (with the business outcome being favorability levels in a consumer preference survey); a hormone-replacement drug (the business outcome being prescription volume); a maker of business software (looking at the sales closing ratio); and a cookie and cracker company (where the business outcome is sales compared to forecast). The cases variously compared competitive share modified to also account for tone (positive, neutral, negative) and prominence of coverage.

The results were very high correlations ranging from .84 to .98. (Putting that in perspective, 1.0 would mean a perfect 100% correlation.)

More than 200 case studies like this have been run. No more than a handful have failed to show strong correlations between Share of Discussion and business outcomes – and this handful of cases were all characterized by extremely low story volumes compared to paid media.

So you say your organization’s business outcomes aren’t what they should be, and competitors are out-shouting you in media coverage? It may be time for a serious talk with management about what it will take to stay in the game.

Click here for complete paper and tell us what you think.

Frank Ovaitt

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3 Replies to “Excellent news: Frank Ovaitt is joining us….here is his first post on new research linking media coverage and business outcome

  1. True story — we work hard to get a television station’s breakfast TV program to send a remote to our client, a bagel bakery.

    Four remotes over two hours, plus– because we sent bagels baked at the start of the show to the anchors in the stuio, through an hour and a half of traffic jams — a fifth hit wrapping up the show.

    By the end of the afternoon the bakery is running out of cream cheese, and early the next mornign the owner is at his Monteal Smoked Meat supplier, getting addition meat to sell.

    Two months later, business is still up.

    I have not read the research paper yet — I’ll try to find time, but we’re pretty busy doing real work right now, including preparing a pitch for a woman who was so impressed by the bagel converage that she visited the bakery to ask who did the PR.

    We pich her company next Friday.

    When I do find time to read the research, I wonder how much I will find about the quality of the PR/media relations, and the quality of the advertising being compared.

    Researchers often seem to leve out things like type size, readability, the quality of props, how good the person being interviewed is, etc.


  2. However, we must remember that correlations do not establish causation. Successful organisations may as a matter of course attract more coverage than less successful organisations.

  3. Welcome Frank.

    I am not suprised that there is a correlation between media coverage and business outcomes (good or bad) but I am suprised at the high level of correlation. You can’t get much more definitive than that. This should provide good arguments to anyone faced with the perrenial situation of fighting the urge to ‘stay quiet’ and ‘be cautious,don’t say anything’often heard by our colleagues in legal or senior VP positions who are uncomfortable with media coverage.

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