In a time of constant digital innovation, the media environment today has introduced a new ability for consumers to broadcast their opinions about companies on global platforms. Social media in particular allows for content to circulate quickly and consistently. Perhaps most significantly, news stories can travel at a more rapid rate than ever before, putting companies at constant risk of weakening their brand image in the eyes of consumers.

A recent study conducted by Clutch, a B2B research platform, finds that there is a direct relationship between media coverage and brand perception. Brands that are featured negatively in the press subsequently have a negative perception in the minds of consumers. To gather this information, Clutch surveyed 1,000 consumers in the US.

As a solution to monitoring this risk and ensuring a stable brand image, Clutch points to public relations as a steady long-term strategy that all companies should uphold.

In the report, Clutch finds that 52% of consumers spend their time using social media more than any other media outlet. As a result, the window of time that companies have to respond to negative media coverage has dramatically shortened. Companies are now at the will of consumers who can change their perception of that brand within seconds of being exposed to a failed marketing tactic, controversial political stance, or recent news event.

There are three top-name brands that serve as examples of this phenomenon, according to Clutch. United Airlines, Pepsi, and Chick-Fil-A are large, globally-recognized companies that have all recently suffered from a recent PR crisis and have thus experienced a change in their consumer following.

Clutch asked consumers to express their reaction to each brands’ media coverage in the form of their likelihood to continue purchasing that company’s products or services.

In the case of United, 53% of consumers say they are less likely to buy plane tickets from the brand in response to the mishandling of a security official in removing an unwilling passenger from a flight.

For Pepsi, 77% of consumers say they are “unaffected” by the brand’s recent commercial that takes an insensitive approach to police brutality because their brand loyalty outweighs the marketing mistake.

Chick-Fil-A’s overt religious values that conflict with the LGBTQ community have actually generated a positive response from consumers, 25% of whom say they are more likely to buy meals from the brand in respect of their right to religious expression.

Though each brand presents a different report of how press coverage actually drives consumers’ purchasing behavior, the perceptions these consumers have of the brands are still negative overall.

To ensure that brand image remains strongly upheld in the minds of consumers, PR teams are now required to adjust their strategies to the new media environment. Because news travels quickly, PR teams must act even quicker to ensure brands emerge in front of the negative press, avoiding a potential loss in brand loyalty and consumer support.

To read the full report, please visit:

Jenna Seter is a Business Analyst & Content Marketer at To contact the author of this study, please email her at Follow her on Twitter @jennaseter.

Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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