Businesses have to monitor readers’ comments carefully – early warning systems are a must.

Readers’ comments need to be taken very seriously by all organisations, especially those responsible for fostering reputations. This was confirmed in a recent international survey completed by ECCO, one of the leading international Public Relations (PR) networks. Specialists in reputation management asked journalists in seven countries globally, including South Africa, about their opinion on readers’ comments. How, if at all, they influence what journalists write? ECCO obtained responses from approximately 750 professional writers.

The main finding confirmed that readers’ comments on an article can have a serious impact on the reputation of entities. Opinions expressed in the comments sections of the media are discussed and taken seriously by at least two thirds of the journalists who responded; 65.6% confirmed that comments, at least on occasion, “influence future articles on a given subject”.


The ECCO research confirmed that journalists pay attention to readers’ comments; commentators therefore have the potential to become an influential minority.

The survey established that journalists are aware of this. The majority of the respondents (74.1%) don’t believe that they represent the majority of their readers. The same percentage agrees to the statement: “There is only a small group of regular commentators who are usually writing for the benefit of each other”.

Only 12.3% of the respondents agreed that the comments received are deemed offensive. Very few respondents (17.4%) indicated that comments get deleted because of inappropriate or offensive content and 18.8% have never experienced the need to delete comments.

More than three quarters (77.8%) agreed that readers’ comments often provide useful improvements and corrections to an article in question.

“We are very pleased to have been able to include South African journalists in this international study,” says Regine le Roux, Managing Director of Reputation Matters, a member of the ECCO PR international network. “Our results were very closely aligned to the responses received globally. The research shows that an early warning system analysing readers’ comments is a must for every company, as this potentially has a big impact on an organisation’s reputation. Clearly the opinions and facts voiced in this forum by readers are on the express lane to editors,” concludes le Roux.








Journalists are taking readers’ comments very serious. Therefore communicators have to monitor and react to them. This is one of the results of an international survey by the ECCO agency network.


ECCO agencies in France, Germany, Hungary, India, South Africa and Switzerland used their media contacts to start an online survey between March and April 2014. A centrally developed questionnaire was distributed in the respective local language and answered by approximately 750 journalists representing all types of media and all functions from editor-in-chief to freelance writer.

The complete survey report can be downloaded at: 


ECCO is a network of independent PR and marketing communications agencies located in over 40 countries around the world and headquartered in London. ECCO member agencies are successful in their own business and are owner-managed by senior executives with extensive agency/big client experience. ECCO’s objective is to offer the best services to their clients, taking advantage of its international presence and of the full independence of its partners. ECCO clients include Interface , Xerox, Easy Voyage, Zagg, Butchers’ Pet Care and Photobo.