By MediaStreet Staff Writers

In an age where digital media is constantly changing, public relations practitioners and business professionals still see the benefits of traditional media coverage. This is according to study conducted by researchers at the University of Georgia.

The study finds those who use news sources to convey certain information about their products prefer independent media coverage.

Lynne Sallot is a professor of public relations of Journalism and Mass Communication. She says, “We have this intuitive idea that getting our messages covered by the news media makes those messages more credible than when we put them out there ourselves. Everyone believes this, but it’s been difficult to prove it.”

Independent media coverage is a more traditional form of news content like a TV broadcast, newspaper article or radio show, whereas more controlled sources of media are paid media such as advertisements or an organisation’s own website.

Pauline Howes is an associate professor of communications, and conducted the research. She says, “When asked directly, public relations practitioners and businesspeople in this study said they see independent media coverage as more credible than controlled, or paid, media. This seems to support the value of news coverage as part of a communications plan.

“Both types of communication are used by businesspeople, but an independent source may be viewed by audiences as having more credibility because it is not controlled or influenced by the subject of a story.”

When determining what goes into a business’s story, the editors and producers behind these independent news sources have no vested interest in the company or its products.

Differing from past experimental studies, this research looked at real world perceptions by interviewing public relation practitioners as well as business professionals.

Says Sallot, “There is some truth that to some audiences, messages covered by the media are more important. Until now, most of the research has suggested that that’s not true.”

Because of the conducted interviews, Howes and Sallot were able to get more personal feedback from those in the field. This study supported the belief that corporate/ PR messages that are carried by news media do have enhanced news credibility.