Thursday, September 3, 2009

Multiplier Claim Fraudulent

I just read a paper by David Michaelson and Don Stacks, colleagues of mine at the Institute for PR's Commission on Measurement and Evaluation.

They have done a series of experiments to determine whether there is any basis for the claimed "multiplier" effect of editorial coverage over advertising. The argument being that the third-party endorsement of editorial coverage generated by PR is more believable and valuable than advertising. Then, those who make this argument make up a number and say, for example, PR-induced editorial coverage is three times or five times as valuable as equivalent advertising.

Michaelson and Stack's most recent study supports their earlier work. They state in their discussion: "We found no major differences between public relations and advertising on overall communications impact."

What's really important about all this is two qualified researchers are objectively reviewing the claim PR practitioners have made about the value of editorial content being higher than advertising. We now have real experimental data that says it just is not so.

We cannot project their findings to all cases; there may be some circumstances in which there is some multiplier effect, but we have no experimental evidence to support that, just the assertions of people who do not question their assumptions.

I suggest you review the paper at It is pretty good reading for an academic paper, and certainly worth skimming at the very least.

And bravo to Don and David!

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