Journalists survey reveals rise in consumer influence

NEW YORK: PR professionals need to consider using consumers as third-party endorsers for companies and their products and services. That's the suggestion from a survey of journalists released today by Euro RSCG Magnet and Columbia journalism school associate professor Steven S. Ross.

NEW YORK: PR professionals need to consider using consumers as third-party endorsers for companies and their products and services. That's the suggestion from a survey of journalists released today by Euro RSCG Magnet and Columbia journalism school associate professor Steven S. Ross.

"This is the first year we've seen such a rise in influence of consumers on reporters," Ross said of the annual survey. "Reporters are figuring out how to tap the consumer, either through their own readers or consumer-rating services."

A third (32%) of survey respondents said they consider more carefully customer satisfaction than they did one year ago in covering a company's products or services, putting it third in attributes after innovation and product quality. Last year, customer satisfaction ranked 12th.

The study, called "The Credibility Crisis," also found that the financial scandals continue to take their toll on corporate reputation.

Three-quarters of journalists who regularly cover business said that revelations of corporate misbehavior affect their corporate or financial coverage. More than half (57%) said such disclosures sometimes or always influence the way they report on a company's products.

CEOs fell to ninth place from last year's fourth place among most-frequently cited sources. There is less focus on a CEO's personality as a way to define a company, the study said.

"There's a more holistic view of management now than the celebrity CEO," added Aaron Kwittken, president and COO of Euro RSCG Magnet.

Academics are wielding more influence, the study found. Forty percent of the responding journalists said that academics are very likely to shape their views on an issue.

The survey found that although 70% of respondents include information from corporate spokespeople in their stories, only 8% said those sources are very likely to affect their opinion of a company or an issue.

The study is based on responses from 1,875 journalists in North America.

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