Newspaper Reports and Consumer Choice: Evidence from the Do Not Call Registry
33 Pages Posted: 25 Feb 2010 Last revised: 6 Aug 2014
Date Written: February 23, 2010
Despite annual expenditures on public relations exceeding $19.42 billion, U.S. businesses lack practical guidance about the effectiveness of publicity in mass media.
Here, we assemble a rich and novel data-set to gauge the impact of news reports on consumer sign-ups with the U.S. Do Not Call (DNC) registry. Using multiple identification strategies, we found robust evidence that news reports increased consumer registrations. Specifically, a one-percent increase in the number of news reports increased DNC registrations by 0.018 (±0.002) percent.
The impact increased with mention of the toll-free telephone number and URL, but decreased with the length of the headline and main text. Further, we found evidence that reports affect behavior through persuasion as well as information – the impact on registration was higher for reports that mentioned the number of other people registering. Finally, the impact of news reports on consumer registration was stronger in national than local newspapers and in politically neutral and Democrat than Republican newspapers.
Keywords: newspaper, publicity, do not call
JEL Classification: L15, L82, M39
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation