Presenting Cision's 2019 State of the Media Report Read More

CompetitorClutter Challenges Telecommunications’ PR Efforts

Healthcare News Gets Red-Carpet Treatment

Is your shoe closet overflowing with the your prom shoes and the Chucks you wore in high school? Maybe not. Or do you have one of those kitchen counters covered in infomercial appliances from a bread maker to a juicer?

We all view clutter on a daily basis – even in the news. One thing we’ve noticed here at Cision, after years of media analysis, is that competitor clutter isn’t spread evenly in the news — just as it isn’t spread evenly at your house. You may have a very organized closet, but your bathroom cabinets haven’t been cleared of extras in years.

When it comes to news that favorably highlights a company’s products or services, some industries are intrinsically more able to capture exclusive stories that focus on one company without having to share the glory with a competitor.

Corporations in the healthcare industry (which is largely made up of pharmaceutical companies in our study) are more likely to capture a larger percentage of a story in the news.  Many new pharma products are without competition (yet) or the angle of the story is unique to one firm.
In this recent story, Merck’s  baldness-stopping drug has a second potential use — to stop prostate cancer. The vast majority of the article focused on Merck, and there were only slight mentions of the competition in the middle of the story.

Why might we dwell so much on this topic anyway? After all, clutter can sometimes be a net positive, such as the cluster of Oriental rug stores lined up next to other, creating a whole shopping destination. But in general, it’s not a good thing in the PR industry. In a text and image-driven world, we’re starved for exclusive moments with potential customers and stakeholders. These alone moments allow for more story-telling, such as the innovative use of a product or a human-focused story to make the news memorable. 

The other end of the company-clutter spectrum is the telecommunications sector, where news stories are like March Madness coverage.

There’s competitive news about technology upgrades and service plans. There’s a continuous publicity about a pipeline of mobile devices, such as the iPhone and Blackberry Curve. And comparisons of these services and products are the norm. This recent New York Times story  exemplifies how this never-ending race makes it so difficult for telecom providers to get a spotlight.

Perhaps someone will invent a mobile app to turn on your bread maker at 3 a.m. each day. Now there’s a unique high-tech story proposition to pitch — the smell of fresh, baking multi-grain bread in the kitchen while your alarm goes off.

What industries do you think get the most exclusivity in the news? Is your industry more or less likely to share the spotlight with competitors (see the graph below)? How can PR people turn a shared story into a positive thing?

Industries With Highest and Lowest Percentages of Exclusive* News

Positively-Portrayed Product & Service Mentions Only

Companies within the Heathcare / Pharma industry are most likely to appear in the media without significant mentions of a competitor. 

Data from Cision Index of Large U.S. Corporations in Major Media Outlets, 2008
*Exclusive news defined as appearing with no competition or mere mention of competition

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