Best reputation or just tone of coverage?

Posted on: May 16, 2007

The latest announcement from Cision, the owner of the Delahaye Index, says that Microsoft has the “best reputation in the media” based on (according to the Cision press release of May 7) “a score of how many positive and negative reputation driving attributes are found within each story”.

It goes on to breathlessly to say that Cisco Systems ranks second because of “high profile coverage derived from Cisco’s negotiations with Apple over the name of the iPhone” and acquisitions. Following on is General Motors which has roared up to the top three having been “ranked in last place” a year ago.

Dummyspit isn’t quibbling over who is first, second, third or tenth. That’s irrelevant although league tables are a much-used tactic for creating media coverage. Our question is over the misuse of the term, ‘reputation’ and the claim by Cision North America’s CEO Steve Newman that “corporate reputation is uniquely measurable through the media, as news affects and reflects public sentiment.”

That’s wrong. A generation of study has suggested that media may have agenda setting properties but it doesn’t necessarily shift public sentiment. And it won’t always reflect public opinion. That’s wishful thinking by PR practitioners and service providers and is a classic example of the substitution game – where output is confused with outcome.

Reputation, as this blog has said before, is given to organisation by those with whom it is engaged. The media is just one of those stakeholders. It can reflect a positive or negative sympathy towards an organisation and there’s no doubt that media analysis can judge tone and favourability. This factor (sympathy, tone or favourability) is an affective component but leaves out the cognitive element. It is thus worth noting the comments of Prof David Dozier, one of the gurus of public relations research, who commented that reputation may be based on direct experiences as well as on processed messages. (Dozier 1993: 230)


2 Responses to "Best reputation or just tone of coverage?"

[…] Posted in Public Relations by Heather Yaxley on the May 16th, 2007 Check out DummySpit which says everything that needs to be said about equating media coverage to reputation.  This […]

Absolutely agree. We’re talking only about frequency and tone, not reputation which is comprised of a long and complex list of drivers.

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