Negative press coverage can lead to positive change: study

Nasty headlines can boost a PR professional’s cache inside an organization and help drive strategic change, according to a rigorous university study.

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It’s one of the most frequent refrains among communicators who often feel they don’t get enough respect in their companies. In the executive C-suite, leaders make decisions about company strategy. Outside views that are reported in the press but never weighed by leaders can lead to bad decisions.

Without a communications officer at the table, who will direct leaders’ attention to the coverage the company has been getting? Depending on their level of interest, individual executives may read some of the articles covering the organization, but it’s the PR department’s job to monitor coverage, analyze it, and convey its meaning. Leaders who grasp what’s coming out of the press use that information to shape strategy.

That’s the finding of a rigorous academic study, Burr Under the Saddle: How Media Coverage Influences Strategic Change (free registration required). Negative media coverage may be unpleasant and set teeth to grinding in the C-suite, but it also can serve as the catalyst for companies to make significant strategic course changes that lead to organizational improvements.

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