Communication policy measures are capable of influencing such perception processes and thus the addressees of communication messages in their attitudes. In this context, it is of particular interest to find out how the interplay between activating and cognitive processes is shaped and which communication strategies are particularly suitable for which purposes. Our work in this area has dealt, for example, with advertising impact analysis (comparative and non-comparative advertising), the effectiveness of sponsorship, and reputation management, which is a key task of corporate communications at many companies.
The search for success factors has reached the intangible sphere. Multinational companies as well as medium-sized enterprises have long since recognized that professional reputation management serves to build lasting competitive advantages and helps to ensure above-average corporate returns. The reasons for the successful effect of reputation: A high reputation facilitates the acquisition and retention of capable employees, strengthens customer confidence, improves access to the capital market and thus reduces costs, and even ensures lower procurement prices. In short, by building a strong reputation, companies erect a barrier that makes customer churn more difficult and deters market entrants. Reputation management can therefore be compared with strengthening a company's immune system or with a kind of inoculation against the rigors of competition. But how can reputation be measured validly and managed in a targeted manner? In several studies, we were able to develop a measuring instrument that breaks down reputation into its core components, likeability and competence. The evaluation of around 6,500 interviews in Germany, the UK and the USA showed how reputation can be measured and visualized. In addition, the drivers of reputation can also be identified, which in turn enables companies to make clear recommendations for action. Managerial performance also needs to be measured against other yardsticks than the short-term observable performance of the company. With our studies on CSR and reputation, we have been able to show how an (indirect) increase in value can be achieved through "ethical action".
The control of advertising effects
For a couple of years now, comparative advertising is permitted in Germany. But up to date here are only isolated empirical findings about the impacts of these kinds of communication, so that a meaningful planning basis is missing for advertisers. For this purpose we have developed a model of advertising effects that explains the function of comparative advertising under consideration of the cultural and legal conditions in Germany.
We analysed comparative versus non-comparative advertising in a large cross sectional survey for the BMW Group and the telecommunication service provider o.tel.o. For the first time we worked with real stimuli (i.e. advertising media was placed effectively) and with a non-collegiate population. Most important finding: At least on the short run comparative advertising is causing no harmful effects. However, a significantly better impact can only be proven with regard to the performance characteristics, effectively used in the comparison. The effects, which have been assumed didn't appear.
Effects of cultural sponsoring
Cultural sponsoring is still one of the rather „exotic” tools of communication policy. One main reason for this is, that its impact on the sponsor’s performance items has never really been analysed. For this reason a research project was set up for eight years, cooperating with the Arbeitskreis Kultursponsoring (AKS) in the BDI e.V. and with a couple of cultural institutions. The main goal is to fill up this deficit of information and to present verifiable findings based on empirical and quantitative studies. In doing so, we differentiate between the impact of cultural sponsoring on the sponsor’s different target groups, particularly general public, customers and employees.
The overall project is based on the assumption, that cultural sponsoring, being one of several communication tools, must achieve the same communication goals that are strived by other tools, even if the weightings and priorities are set differently.