10.4185/RLCS-2018-1287en | ISSN 1138 - 5820 | RLCS, 73-2018 | |
Online Corporate Brand Management of european public television. Proposal of indicators for its measurement
Carmen Costa-Sánchez [CV] [ ORCID] [ GS] Faculty of Communication Sciences. University of A Coruña, UDC, Spain email@example.com
Translation by Ana Gabriela Nogueira,
1. Introduction. The triple crisis of public television.
The changes for the cultural industries happen without respite, especially, since their entry into the context of digitalization. The television industry, classic flow industry (Lacroix & Tremblay, 1997), becomes permanent and ineludible, of private consumption, in intangible media and with a mixed financing system (Fernández Quijada, 2007).
In the case of public television, general changes in the sector also have an impact on its activity. Multiple screens, television on demand, mobile applications and increased competition through the growth of the number of actors in the audiovisual sector is one of the vectors of change that public television can not resist.
"New producers, technological giants and other companies completely unrelated to the traditional business of television - Facebook, Amazon, Google, Apple or Snapchat, among others - have disembarked or announced their arrival in the audiovisual market to dispute the market leadership of classic broadcasters "(Cherry and Cherry, 2017). For this reason, the industry is orienting its future towards personalization and mobile consumption in an increasingly fragmented market. This is the first crisis facing the television medium, which had become the king of cultural industries since its appearance and sees how the Internet and the new modes of audiovisual consumption force it to revalidate the title of favorite son of European households. The second wave of OTTs endorses the context of change experienced by traditional television as a medium.
The consequence has been evident for public channels that started from an advantageous position in terms of competition: the fragmentation of audiences, as well as the emergence of new profiles of television consumption, young users, who practice personalized consumption patterns. "The digitalization of processes, the atomization of audiences, the multiplication of the offer of free access through DTT and the consolidation of the Internet and new media as consumption devices lead to a new stage in the dynamics and scope of the public television "(Manfredi, 2011: 51).
Secondly, the economic crisis has seriously affected the European economies since 2008, to a greater or lesser extent. The limitation of public budgets creates the shadow of doubt about the need for a public television that happens to require justification before society. The entities of public ownership try to explain themselves to society assuming that the focus of attention is also placed on them (López & Manfredi, 2013).
The commitment to transparency has been, in this sense, a common denominator in communicative terms, in order to regain the trust of a citizenry marked by cuts and economic hardship (López López et al., 2017). The private and political questioning of its public financing system has forced the respective corporations to increase their levels of transparency regarding the destination of the funds and the need to improve their reputation (Fernández and Campos, 2013).
Thirdly, and linked to the above, the revalidation of its legitimacy, after putting into question intermittently about its credibility. Arguments are needed in favor of their activity and the continuity of the model (with or without variations), which means talking about added value in the service they provide and in the image they project to citizens.
This set of elements frames and conditions the need for a positive image for European public television channels and highlights three fundamental lines of activity:
- The need to connect from all channels. It is no longer enough to reach a traditional audience, but communication flows must be used and managed on all platforms. The creation of an online community, something to which brands from very different sectors aspire, is equivalent to the creation of a community of followers, which respects and/or esteems the television brand, which would suppose its endorsement and recommendation to other potentials users of the service.
As reported by Vila-López and Küster-Boluda (2013), the television networks are interested in developing a reputed brand that embraces all the products that offer to achieve high audiences, and, on the other hand, achieve the development of a favorable attitude towards the acceptance of new products that the chain introduces in the future (Alessandri, 2009).
- The need for transparency to explain their identity, their proper management and to persuade their need in the current context. Transparency is, basically, synonymous with predisposition to explain itself, to communicate in a proactive sense about all the fundamental aspects of its management that may interest citizens.
- The need to differentiate and distinguish so that the model continues valid in actuality, to create a valuable brand for citizenship in terms of pride of belonging or representation and, in this case, to have a public programming of quality, that fulfills a real function of public service and that connects with the needs of citizens.
The objective of this paper is to propose a series of composite indicators that allow systematizing the analysis on the management of the corporate brand online of European public television. The European environment is prioritized because it is close, culturally and socially, to Spanish and to continue the line of studies developed in previous works (Costa-Sánchez & Túñez-López, 2017), limited to the field of digitalization. In addition, the construction of indicators favors the benchmarking and comparative purpose that analysis of this kind should pursue. Compound indicators (CI) have been defined as those quantitative or qualitative measures derived from a series of observed facts that may reveal relative positions in a given area (OECD, 2008).
It has to be accounted that monitoring and measurement of reputation has been, and continues to be debated among scholars of Corporate Communication and even among professionals (Castelló-Martínez et al, 2014. Pérez Sampol et al. 2015). However, this proposal aims to contribute to developing a method of analysis and reflection that helps public television to determine their current situation and encourage the corresponding decision making.
Few previous studies have addressed the management of brand and reputation from television entities. For Förster (2015), the brand promise (to be verbalized by means of a claim) and a strong and differentiating strategic bet are decisive factors of success. The author reviews, in this comparative study, three types of television communication instruments: corporate design, on-air communication and off-air communication. However, in a highly digital context, television organizations also constitute online brands in which their own media (web corporate and social media) represent high-impact communicative vectors to strengthen and improve relations with audiences, which are, no longer, exclusively television, but also users of mobile devices, and of the Network.
In the first part of this study, following the recommended process for creating CI (OECD, 2008), we proceed to review the scientific literature that supports the use of simple indicators. The proposed indicators will be tested for the main European public television channels, which in an intentional sample has been made up of public television channels of the most important European markets in our environment: RTVE (Spain), RTP (Portugal), France Télévisions (France), BBC (United Kingdom), RAI (Italy), ARD, ZDF (Germany).
3. Proposal of indicators
As explained at the beginning of this analysis, the needs of public televisions in the current context within the framework of online brand management are basically summarized in: 1) creation of an online community; 2) communicate their identity and be transparent with respect to their management and 3) foster the pride of representation of all their citizens. As explained by Avery and Own (1999), since the mid-nineties, public television broadcasting companies have been making real efforts to build strong brand reputations on a positioning platform based on value and quality, since, in the case of public channels, there is a growing concern to be shown as educational and cultural institutions of high reputation. Digitization moves the challenge to the online arena in which communication channels increase and potentially favor dialogical relations with the public (Grunig, 2009; McNamara, 2010).
3.1. Creating an online community
The technological and social changes have led to an evolution towards participatory tools in the context of Web 2.0, which is why organizations need to adapt. "In front of the static and information-centric Web 1.0, this new Web concept [2.0] is focused on the user and on those tools for creation, production and dissemination of content by a community of interagentes" (Costa- Sánchez, Piñeiro-Otero, 2012: 186). From model 1.0 to 2.0, the web of organizations ceases to be unidirectional and the spaces for relations with the public no longer tend to be a bulletin board or press releases that have been sent previously, but they go on to allow the interaction and participation of users. On the other hand, online and offline are configured as a continuum on which to transmit positive intangibles linked to the entity. Reputation and identity projection must also be worked on in the online environment (Aced, 2013).
They are also more creative users, who like to participate and use new tools to interact, play or create content. These are the so-called prosumers (Toeffler, 1981), a profile of the public that organizations can’t ignore, but must offer them experiences and contents of interest. "We must recognize prosumers as the communicative actors of the society of ubiquity," concludes Islas (2008: 76).
The new challenge consists of capturing the attention of the users and achieving their engagement that is, converting them into allies of the brand and the entity. "We must manage communication well, so that the message reaches the stakeholders and they recognize it and can return value to the organization in the form of trust, credibility and loyalty, in short: in the form of reputation" (Carrillo, Castillo and Tato, 2008: 255).
In this context, it is necessary to know, in the first place, the number of followers of the television entity in social networks in order to know how wide their potential community is in the Web. Of course, it is a basic indicator, which points to the degree of initial interest generated by their conversation in social media, but that should be taken into account in the first place. In this sense, the data on number of followers or community in the networks endorse the good position of the BBC in the face of the negative situation of France Télévisions, in a range of options in which Facebook and Twitter are presented as the flagships of the presence in social media.
Table 1. Comparative synthesis of potential online community of the main European public channels
Source: Own elaboration
Another simple indicator is that of web positioning. Knowing what position the corporate website occupies in the national and international rankings means recognizing its degree of referentiality. As a source of data, Alexa can be used for both national and international comparisons.
Table 2. Comparative synthesis of the positioning of the web in the international ranking
Source: Alexa. Own elaboration
In the third place, the relational or dialogical use of the platforms promoted for relations with the public in the online environment must be measured. Some tools allow to monitor and quantify this question in comparative terms. Some usable KPIs that allow the comparison of Facebook pages are the page performance index, the weekly evolution, the number of likes/comments/times shared or the engagement per post.
Table 3. Proposal of indicators on Facebook pages
Source: Fanpage Karma. Own elaboration
Table 4. Proposal of indicators on Facebook pages
Source: Like Inspector. Own elaboration
In the case of Twitter, you can combine sentiment data, positioning in influence ranking or the degree of interest for the followers of the television public channels accounts. The combination of simple indicators will allow more accurate results in terms of 2.0 relations with the community.
Table 5. Proposal of indicators of Twitter profiles
Sources: TweetAnalyzer, retweetrank, twitonomy
3.2. Communicate identity transparently
Corporate identity is a complex concept, the sum of the behavior, communication and symbolism that define an organization (Van Riel, 1997). It is his personality, the set of signals that it sends to society as elements that identify it (Chaves, 2005). The strategies of the current organizations have gone from being product-centered to pivoting on relationships with the public, so the identity of the issuer has gained value (Túñez, 2011). According to Capriotti (1999), Corporate Identity represents the set of central, enduring and distinctive characteristics of an organization, with which the organization itself identifies itself (at an introspective level) and self-differentiates (from the other organizations in its environment).
The confusion between corporate identity and corporate visual identity is common, but the latter is only a part of that, its graphic expression in a series of signs, symbols and/or colors with which the organization identifies itself. The concept of corporate identity is broader and includes what the organization is (including its mission, vision and values), its activity (what it does) and how it does it (management style, corporate culture, leadership, Corporate Social Responsibility or CSR, etc.).
The identity is shaped by the current attributes of the organization, which include: its ownership, the management leadership style, the organizational structure, the business activities and the markets where it has presence, the variety and quality of the products and services that offer, as well as the set of business elements. It is also accompanied by the set of values shared by management and employees (Balmer and Greyser, 2003).
Simões et al. (2005) focused on the controllable elements of Corporate Identity (CI) and defined the management of it as the activities that the organization deliberately develops to improve its image with respect to external and internal audiences.
The definition of the mission, vision and values supposes the heart of the identity of any organization. It allows it to make conscious its self-conception, its aspirations and the principles that guide its performance. The review of the corporate websites of the main European channels allows observing common denominators and singularities in all of them. While some channels maintain the classic formula of defining the public television service in informing, training and entertaining (RTP, BBC, ARD), others add specific strategic lines. Thus, it is worth highlighting how the RAI emphasizes the importance of adequate and respectful representation of women, or Portuguese television highlights the commitment to proximity led to its brand slogan: Sempre ligados (Always connected).
However, in some cases, the explicit explanation of the corporate identity or any of its components is blurred. The explanation of the vision that they have of themselves does not appear so clearly represented and, in many cases, it is confused with the mission. However, the vision synthesizes the objectives of the organization in the medium term; therefore, it is a useful tool as a roadmap for the organization's strategy. The BBC, for example, establishes the vision of becoming the most creative organization in the world, which conditions the entity to be an innovator on a permanent basis, to differentiate itself and stand out in a differentiated way from other television channels. Having on his side the baggage of tradition, it is striking that creativity is its bet for the future.
Thereby, the following indicators can be operationalized: (1) Mission statement; (2) Vision statement; (3) Values statement and (4) strategic identity lines.
Table 6. Keywords of the mission, vision and values enunciated by the European public televisions
Source: Webs corporativas. Own elaboration
On the other hand, the architecture of the corporate website sends messages about the television channel's conception of key issues linked to its identity and the way it understands its public service function. Thus, the comparative analysis of the main European channels shows clearly differentiated strategic bets. While the BBC creates a complete section on the organization and all the information is organized based on two fundamental elements (who we are and how we work), the RAI designs a corporate website where the vehicle section is transparency, from which they make everything dependent the rest. The Portuguese, RTP, for its part, links transparency to the legal section.
Not even audiences are equally important in the set of websites analyzed. In the French website there is more space and more detailed information and the commitment of the channel with its audiences, while, for example, the Italian or Portuguese websites do not reveal any specific section.
Regarding the reports and memories of social responsibility, it is perhaps the British web that offers more detailed information in this respect categorized and segmented in relation to the public that affects. Other indicators to take into account are: the scope (until such reports and reports are available), access (the organization of the contents of the website should facilitate quick and easy access), or the degree of disclosure, which affects the ease of understanding the information provided, so that the documents are presented and drafted in a comprehensible and visually appealing way.
Table 7. Organization of identity information on corporate websites
Source: Costa-Sánchez & Túñez-López, 2017
3.3. Singularization and pride of representation
The need to differentiate in an increasingly competitive environment can be a challenge for public television stations that, traditionally, have been privileged in terms of access, infrastructures and resources. On the other hand, it means assuming their identity as public service organizations with a commitment that adds quality programming (an area deeply addressed by communication scholars), an online community management that adds value and pride in the representation of citizens, to whom, ultimately, as any public entity, they owe. In this sense, the Klout data can be taken as influence indicators in networks of each of the channels analyzed.
Table 8. Klout score of public channels analyzed (out of 100)
Source: Klout. Own elaboration
Sociological indicators can also be taken on the acceptance by the public of the programmatic strategy proposed by European television channels that would reveal their degree of support for their priority audiences.
In this context, in Spain, the Study nº3145 Post Electoral General Elections 2016 (CIS, 2016) showed an indicator on the place of TVE in the election by the citizens when it comes to follow political and electoral information, which can be considered synonymous with its degree of referentiality as an information medium for Spanish society. The public media was chosen in second place, behind the private channel La Sexta, which is a negative data for the channel that aspires to be the informative referent of Spanish society.
Table 9. Preferred TV channel to follow political and electoral information (2016)
Source: CIS. Own elaboracion
In the measurement of this dimension, general audience indicators (which would answer the question of whether the television channel is a reference in terms of programming) or specific ones (which would allow knowing if it is in relation to the information mission) can be taken into account).
The balance of Spanish audiences in 2017 (Barlovento, 2018) shows that La1 has been the third option of audiences in Spain behind the two main private channels, Telecinco and Antena3. In the field of news, La1 has disputed the leadership in news programs with Telecinco, which does not consolidate it as a clear reference in the informative habits of Spanish society.
The data of the online audiences of the corporate websites are also an indicator of utility. According to the latest wave of the EGM in Spain (AIMC, 2018), the RTVE website ranks seventh in the ranking of the most consulted online journalistic brands in our country, behind sports and general media, including private television networks (specifically, Antenna 3).
Table 10. Unique visitors of journalistic brands in Spain
Source: AIMC (2018). Own elaboration
3.4. Synthetic indicators
As a result of the abovementioned, the construction of indicators that allow the comparative synthesis of the main challenges that are posed to public television brands in Europe is recommended.
First, an indicator of online community (I. Community), which would determine the degree of solidity of relations between public television and users, following the simple indicators:
• Potential scope
Second, transparency (I. Transparency), which would combine the following parameters:
• Mission statement
Third, the singularization of a strategic bet that is supported in terms of pride of representation (I. Pride) that would be nourished by:
• Programmatic hearing
Table 11. Synthesis of proposed indicators.
Source: Own elaboration
In the current context, European public television broadcasts have expanded the scope in which they have to become a reference for citizens. The battle of the audience gives way to the battle of reputation in which the management of relationships and online content becomes a permanent area of positive image construction.
Traditional measurement systems are no longer the only possible way to analyze the fulfillment of their public service mission. The present work proposes the consideration of three fundamental indicators for the analysis and comparison of their situations with respect to the competition: the creation of an online community that supports the brand, transparency in the management of their organizational identity and the promotion of pride of representation of their fellow citizens. In this way, the European public televisions would face their triple current crisis: technological and competition, economic and credibility.
The elaboration of a more complex analysis started with the use of simple indicators that have been shelled and harvested from the corresponding primary sources. Although the object of the present work was not to deepen the situation of each of the public chains analyzed, the general reading allows us to point out the necessary levels of improvement in the expansion and consolidation of their online communities, in the presentation of their corporative identity (especially, in terms of its vision) and corresponding strategic commitment, as well as in the empowerment of a sentiment of ownership and representation by citizens.
The initial step involves the challenge of becoming (and re-becoming) media of reference in a highly competitive context and fragmented audiences. The online platforms, understood as the own means of each of the public brands analyzed, represent the opportunity to fulfill the mission of public service also in the digital arena, so they must be integrated into the corporate image strategy. This is recognized in the report of the BBC (2016) A future for public service television, which explains that public service media complement public service television and the values that they guide their actions in this field: independence, universality, citizenship, quality and diversity.
Transparency must be understood not so necessarily in a literal way, but as a relational paradigm and structuring of the contents, the story about themselves and the informative proposal they make to users. It suposes the step from storytelling to storydoing.
The methodology developed is considered a valid starting tool that offers a systematized proposal for the construction of synthetic indicators. However, the study suffers from limitations that hinder the use of professional tools for measuring sentiment in the online environment with which are currently working from organizations and brands.
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How to cite this article in bibliographies / References
C Costa-Sánchez, V Guarinos Galán (2018): “Online Corporate Brand Management of european public television. Proposal of indicators for its measurement”. Revista Latina de Comunicación Social, 73, pp. 895 to 910
Article received on 29 November 2017. Accepted on 9 May.