Holmes Report Blog

The Holmes Report blog focuses on news and issues of interest to public relations professionals. Our main site can be found at www.holmesreport.com.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The Benefits of Disclosure : Walter Carl has posted his research report on the effect of disclosure on word-of-mouth marketing campaigns, and while I have only had time to read the summary it appears to support the case for transparency.

Among the key findings:

"For approximately 75 percent of the conversational partners (the people with whom the word-of-mouth marketing agents engaged in word-of-mouth communication) it did not matter that they were talking with someone affiliated with a marketing organization. Instead what mattered was that they trusted the agent was providing an honest opinion.

"None of the key outcome metrics (credibility, inquiry, use, purchase, and pass-along/relay) were negatively affected by the agent disclosing their affiliation.

"For about 5 percent of the conversational partners who were not aware of the agent’s affiliation with the marketing organization there was a negative 'backlash' effect when they found out.

As for the conclusions:

"Disclosure has practical business benefits. It does not interrupt the 'natural' flow of conversation.Word-of-mouth marketing organizations should adopt a clear policy that requires disclosure.

"This policy should be implemented with a combination of both education about the practical business benefits of disclosure as well as enforcement procedures."

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