Nielsen Missed the Mark on Value of PR for Financial Brands in Crisis
A study that was just released by Nielsen IAG concluded that advertising builds confidence for financial brands in crisis — that those financial institutions that spend more on advertising will maintain more consumer confidence than those that pull back.
Not surprising at all to see yet another validation for the power of advertising.
But buried in the same press release – under a sub-head of “More Study Findings” — was data that pointed to the greater power that PR has in maintaining consumer confidence in financial institutions:
“When asked what factors would increase confidence in the safety and soundness of their financial institution, respondents cited:
– Seeing regular advertising for that institution (25 percent)
– Receiving regular mail or e-mail offers from that institution (25 percent)
– Regularly seeing internet offers/advertising from that institution (21 percent)
– Reading positive stories in the press about that institution (44 percent)”
Read that last bullet again – it clearly states that reading positive stories in the press bolsters much more confidence than seeing regular advertising. From my perspective, Nielsen has buried the lede.
I don’t want to pick a fight with my advertising brethren and get into yet another debate about the power of advertising versus the power of PR. (Please see the recent study Text 100 and Context Analytics released for our point of view on that topic.)
Instead, I would like to simply point out that the study underscores for me that the value of PR continues to be misunderstood, and therefore it continues to be under-valued, especially as a means for bolstering brand reputation during a recession.
We’ve all seen PR budgets cut or eliminated recently as a result of the economic challenges companies are facing. I would contend that pulling back on PR is exactly the way to ensure ongoing damage to your brand reputation, both during the recession and after the recovery begins.
This recession is now as much about consumer confidence as anything else. What consumers – in fact, all stakeholders – are seeking is anything that will bolster their confidence in companies and institutions. Because consumers’ priorities have changed, companies must demonstrate that they are delivering not what customers want, but what they need.
If advertising can do that, great. But press coverage that reflects the strength of a company’s leadership, operations, products and services, while also demonstrating an innate understanding of stakeholders’ needs, is invaluable during these tough times.
Bottom line: companies need to focus now more than ever on maintaining and building brand reputation – and they must leverage communications channels that enable them to tell their story in a complete, compelling, and authentic way.