Journalists warn that brands’ online reputations can kill coverage opportunities

by | Jun 5, 2018 | Public Relations

A poor online reputation can wreak havoc on your company sales and employee morale—and new research finds that it can also damage your coverage chances with many reporters.

The poll of more than 200 journalists nationwide from digital comms firm Lumentus reveals more than 70 percent of respondents report a Google search is their first step in performing background research—and 44 percent said that they did not pursue a story or article based on online search results.

Journalists warn that brands’ online reputations can kill coverage opportunities

The data demonstrates how online search is now one of the most important tools journalists use when they begin to research a potential news story—and what that search reveals about a brand or business can be a significant factor in whether they pursue it.

“This research confirms our belief that a Google search is the ‘front door’ for every organization or executive,” said Laurence Moskowitz, CEO of Lumentus, in a news release. “No modern communications plan is complete without a strategy to monitor and manage your organization’s search results in an active and ongoing manner.”

Journalists warn that brands’ online reputations can kill coverage opportunities

Other notable findings from the 2018 poll of journalists include:

On search

  • More than 65 percent of journalists always perform an online search when researching a story
    • An additional 31 percent stated they often perform the online search for research
    • Fewer than two percent rarely or never perform online searches for research
  • 76 percent of responding journalists said they always or often consider online search results when researching a subject for coverage
    • Fewer than four percent rarely or never consider online results when researching a subject for coverage
  • More than 45 percent of respondents said they thoroughly examine all search results that appear relevant

On reputation

  • 35 percent of journalists said a subject’s digital reputation is very important when they develop story ideas
    • An additional 42 percent stated that digital reputation was somewhat important
    • Only 9 percent said online search results were not important
  • More than 36 percent of journalists say they are less likely to move forward with a story subject if it has little to no online “footprint”

On trust

  • 74 percent of the journalists surveyed said they trust other members of the media
  • Nearly 94 percent say they consider potential biases in news coverage when using other outlets as sources for their own coverage
  • About 44 percent said they distrust information they discover on Facebook
  • More than 30 percent distrust information they find on personal websites

“Creating and managing an online profile that reflects the image a company or organization wants to project is critical in achieving the right first and most long-lasting impression,” said Christina Bertinelli, Lumentus senior partner, in the release. “The online or digital image presented by any organization, or even its executives, is crucial for all audiences, from journalists writing about them to clients, employees, and business prospects.”

Journalists warn that brands’ online reputations can kill coverage opportunities

Corporate websites are a major component of search results, Bertinelli explained, but so are the other results that appear in search, ranging from public filings to other news stories that involve the company or key executives as well as social media activity, blogs and other content.

See the complete survey results here.

The Lumentus survey polled broadcast, print and online reporters and editors using Survey Monkey to gather and calculate the results. The survey was conducted in the top 50 U.S. markets during late April and early May.

Journalists warn that brands’ online reputations can kill coverage opportunities

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter