Research: Managing customers' brand discussions more important than media reputation

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Global PR Network found senior executives focus on what customers have to say

Many companies consider managing how their customers talk about their brand to be more important than managing their media reputation, according to research by independent agency network Global PR Network.

GPRN's survey of 124 senior business people across a number of markets globally — with the majority in PR, marketing, comms or brand roles — found 86% of respondents said the way customers talked about them was important, while 55% selected the option that it was "very important."

When asked how important the way the media portrayed the organisation was, just under 50% of respondents said it was very important, and a total of 77% said it was important.

This is not the first time research has pointed to the increasing importance of the consumer voice — in July, PRWeek reported that online customer reviews had become an increasingly important factor in brand communications, and one that PR professionals must monitor.

When respondents were asked what they considered important in a comms partner, 70% said understanding the firm's business strategy, followed by understanding its products or services at 66%, and being proactive at 58%.

Lesser priorities in choosing an external agency were it having a global presence — only 38% of respondents said this was important — and saving money, with only 50% of respondents saying this was important when choosing an agency.

Tom Berry, CEO of Chameleon, the UK agency that founded GPRN, said, "We have been talking about the changing role of PR for years — how storytelling is just as important as selling a story. But this research suggests that managing media reputation, brand and directly engaging a customer base through communications are key priorities across all regions."

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