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Massmedia Effects (Medienwirkungsforschung)

Mighty media – It is more than just starting the printing press

Long since intangible assets have been identified as strategic success factors. Among them reputation has an important role as the central antecedent of trust in a company. In a society where it is increasingly required to give account to various stakeholders, it is a corporate challenge not only to protect reputation, but also to manage it actively. Reputation is regarded as evaluation and appreciation of a company by all stakeholder groups. In this manner, the assessment of reputation is especially driven by subjective experiences and perceptions over time. Public relation management has therefore a key role in influencing this evaluation process, since daily corporate news is mainly based on corporate press releases. A surprising fact in this regard is that in a recent survey only 58% of PR and advertising agencies confirm that their companies and clients have an explicit strategy for reputation management.

News media are regarded as an objective observer of firms’ behavior such as it innovative power or social activities as well as sponsoring of art, cultural events and sports but they will also report on emissions-test trickery, manipulation of interest rates or artic fracking initiatives. In order to control communicational success it is not sufficient to measure media reporting but it is necessary to link the news with the subjective evaluation of the stakeholder groups. This allows establishing a causal relation between media coverage and public opinion. This offers an approach towards opening the black box of the media news processing, understanding, interpretation and learning. In this regard Martina Panico, Sascha Raithel and Elena Michel (2014) found that – in contrast to negative news on CSR activities – especially negative reports about corporate expertise impact peoples’ assessment of a company as a good employer. Yet, employer reputation is just one single facet of corporate reputation and opens further avenues for research on which topics are important for firms to establish a long-lasting reputation management.

Possible research questions focus on effects of media reports on reputation and associated KPIs, like financial performance.


Basic literature:

  • Deephouse, D. L. (2000). Media reputation as a strategic resource: An integration of mass communication and resource-based theories. Journal of management, 26(6), 1091-1112.
  • Einwiller, S. A., Carroll, C. E., & Korn, K. (2010). Under What Conditions Do the News Media Influence Corporate Reputation? The Roles of Media Dependency and Need for Orientation. Corporate Reputation Review, 12(4), 299-315.
  • Fombrun, C., & Shanley, M. (1990). What's in a name? Reputation building and corporate strategy. Academy of management Journal, 33(2), 233-258.
  • Panico, M., Raithel, S., & Michel, E. (2014). The Effect of Media Coverage on Employer Reputation. Journal of Media Economics, 27(4), 181-198.
  • Schwaiger, M. (2004). Components and Parameters of Corporate Reputation – an Empirical Study. Schmalenbach Business Review, 56, 46-71.