In the same summer Craig Carroll came from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to run Lipscomb University’s communication and journalism department, he was also marking the publishing of his first book, the culmination of six years of research and international study.
“Corporate Reputation and the News Media,” released in July 2010, was an outgrowth of his original dissertation work completed in journalism and corporate communication at the University of Texas at Austin. Carroll was interested in the influence news media had on corporate reputation.
His conclusions (that the media shapes which companies are thought about and how they are thought about) were based in agenda-setting theory, a foundation of communication theory stating that through their day-by-day selection of news stories and topics, editors and news directors focus audience attention, thus influencing its perception of what are the most important issues of the day.
Carroll’s interest continued beyond his dissertation as he pursued his academic career at the University of Southern California in the top-ranked Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and then at UNC Chapel Hill. So he began working to recruit a team of researchers to explore the same question in 22 countries around the world.
The result is “Corporate Reputation and the News Media: Agenda-Setting Within Business News Coverage in Developed, Emerging and Frontier Markets,” published by Routledge Press. Carroll served as editor of the book, which explores agenda-setting in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, China, Germany, Greece, Japan, Nigeria, Spain and Turkey, among other nations.
Each chapter explores geo-political issues, the nature of the news media, the practice of public relations, and the role of public relations agencies in a particular country. For each nation the researchers address:
- The impact of media visibility on organizational prominence, top-of-mind awareness and brand-name recognition,
- The impact of media favorability on the public’s organizational images of these firms, and
- How media coverage of specific public issues and news topics relates to the associations people form of specific firms.
“The project showed that companies’ reputations are wildly different across country borders,” said Carroll. “Also, the news media have a variety of influences on corporate reputation, many that depend upon the countries’ socio-political and cultural contexts, the ideology and type of media system, and even the size of the country.
“Organizations need to be careful in how they approach reputation management and media relations in global contexts: there is no one approach that works in all situations,” Carroll said.
Carroll’s research and background has had a positive impact on Lipscomb’s communication students, who were able to hear from Donald Shaw, one of the developers of agenda-setting theory in spring 2011, thanks to Carroll’s connections, as well as from Alan Kelly, a noted business strategist specializing in persuasive techniques and influence strategies.
Carroll’s work has also expanded his influence within the international public relations field. Since starting work on the book, he was elected as chair of the public relations division of the International Communication Association (ICA), a professional association that has NGO status with the United Nations. Carroll completed his term in May.
The ICA appointment was followed by an opportunity to teach a graduate class at the IE Communication School in Madrid, Spain, for its Masters of Corporate Communication and a separate course at the University of Lugano (Switzerland) in its Executive Master’s of Science in Communication Management over spring break 2011.
He has also since published an article titled “Evaluate to Communicate,” in Communication Director, the industry magazine for European Association of Communication Directors in Brussels, Belgium, the largest gathering of senior level corporate communication executives in Europe.
Carroll is currently a visiting scholar in Homerton College at the University of Cambridge in England, where he is working on two books including a monograph examining the role of corporate communications in corporate reputation management, which is co-authored with Stephen Greyser at Harvard Business School and Elliot Schreiber at Drexel University.
Carroll is also the sole editor for the “Handbook of Communication and Corporate Reputation” to be published by Wiley-Blackwell in 2012.