Book Reviews


Does Success Breed Success? Effects of news and advertising on corporate reputation

Author: May-May Meijer
Publisher Aksant Academic Publishers
Publication Date: Paperback, 320p

Reviewer:Andy Marken
In his nearly 25 years in the advertising/public relations field, Andy has been involved with a broad range of corporate and marketing activities. Prior to forming Marken Communications in mid-1977, Andy was vice president of Bozell & Jacobs and its predecessor agencies. During his 12 years with these agencies, he developed and coordinated a wide variety of highly visible and successful promotional campaigns and activities for clients. A graduate of Iowa State University, Andy received his Bachelor's Degree with majors in Radio & Television and Journalism. Widely published in the industry and trade press, he is an accredited member of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA).

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Good News: Ms. Meijer has done an excellent job of conducting very comprehensive research and does an outstanding job of proving that there is a real and direct correlation between media coverage and a firm’s reputation in its marketspace.

Bad News: Ms. Meijer first wrote the book as her Ph.D. thesis. The result is an almost overabundance of tabulations and somewhat academic analysis of the results.

Good/Bad News: Ms. Meijer weighs the effects of both publicity efforts and advertising and their effects on an organization’s image. There is a cumulative effect in her opinion and she doesn’t come to a conclusion that one is better than the other.
The above notations are not meant to warn you away from reading Ms. Meijer’s work but rather to prepare you for the fact that you will have to work to understand the real meaning of the book.

We sometimes believe that academics write for academics and this is somewhat validated by the notation written by Maxwell McCombs a professor at the University of Texas. “…extends the agenda-setting role of mass communications into an exciting new arena…that opens new research frontiers.”

For those of you who are not into communications research, its techniques and its value, you will probably skip the first 21 pages of the book. Hopefully you won’t because the first main chapter puts Ms. Meijer's work in perspective so you can understand the real credibility and value of her work.

We get a very good look into how she went about studying media coverage and its effect on the success or failure of an organization in chapter two. The chapter deserves a fast read by most professionals at the least just so you have a point of reference in knowing how to evaluate and measure your own publicity efforts and the media impact.

Since everyone in the industry struggles to prove the value of his or her work for their company and client Does Success Breed Success? is very worthwhile reading. While her work focuses on Dutch firms you can’t dismiss the book as being of little use to your work just because your work is for firms in some part of the globe. What is done in Holland or Singapore or Sydney or Duluth impacts the company’s reputation in our global community.

Ms. Meijer shows that the results of communications efforts advertising and public relations can have a significant impact on an organization’s image, reputation and success. While she reaches one conclusion PR professionals may disagree with the more an organization spends on advertising, the better its reputation she doesn’t diminish the importance or value of quality media coverage.

Ms. Meijer doesn’t come to any earthshaking conclusions that will shoot Does Success Breed Success? to your public relations or communications best seller list but it does lay the groundwork for academics in other parts of the world to do their own work. More importantly, we’d like to see organizations like the PRSA and IPRA to conduct similar work that might be more practical for our profession.

Or on a more selfish note, you may conduct your own micro study of news coverage and corporate reputation for your own firm and perhaps include other companies in your market area. The author gives you some excellent guidelines to use in your project and the results might prove useful to your management.

Worried about the outcome of your own research? We wouldn’t be. After all there is too much related academic research that proves that a company’s success or failure is due in no small part to its reputation. Your project could produce some eye opening results for your senior executives and enhance your public relations work. Doing good and doing the right thing and getting credit for it is clearly in the best interest of your organization…and your career.