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Earned media that results from public relations efforts may be more important than advertising to brand value, especially for companies that sell feature-rich, high-involvement and complicated products such as consumer electronics, and financial services and vehicles, finds a survey by Text 100 and Context Analytics.

The findings of the “Media Prominence Study,” (pdf) which calculates brand value based on Interbrand’s 2008 Best Global Brands report, show that on average 27% of brand value is tied to how often the brand name appears in the press.

In industries that involve more research before purchases are made, the editorial content that results from PR can account for nearly half of brand value. For example, in the computing industry, media prominence accounted for 48% of brand value, or 16 times that of the personal care industry (4%). Similarly, media prominence in the automotive, consumer electronics and financial services industries was 23%, 20% and 19% respectively.

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High Involvement Brands Demand Media Prominence

Findings from the study reveal that that industries that sell high involvement products – where a buyer invests time and effort in deciding what to buy – have much higher correlations between media prominence and brand value than industries selling low involvement products, which are more likely to be bought on impulse.

At the other end of the spectrum, advertising expenditures are a leading indicator only for “low involvement” products, and accounted for very little brand value among “high involvement” products. Advertising accounts for nearly one quarter of brand value for low involvement products, while it accounts for less than one percent of brand value for high involvement products.

“One of the goals in undertaking this study was to demonstrate that the value of PR becomes much clearer when media metrics are tied to business value rather than soft metrics that are only understood by PR professionals,” according to Nils Mork-Ulnes, VP of Context Analytics. “While this study focused on how the volume of media coverage relates to brand value, reputation in the media is often a greater predictor of brand value and business outcomes such as sales than volume alone.”

In industries that exhibit a stronger link between media coverage and brand value, managers in these product categories need to pay special attention to the way the brand’s value is impacted by its communications activities, Text 100 said.

About the research: This study included the 99 of the 100 brands featured in the 2008 Best Global Brands report (Thomson-Reuters, was excluded because it is a media company, and the Reuters brand name appears in an extremely large number of articles). Context Analytics and Text 100 are currently working on a second report that will assess exactly how the tone of media coverage relates to brand value. This next report will also evaluate how newer forms of media, such as consumer-generated media, relate to brand value.

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