A new study from Financial Research Corp. and Thompson Becker Intl. reveals that, by an overwhelming majority, the opinions of financial journalists have been greatly affected by the mutual fund industry scandal and there are indications that it could impact how they cover companies going forward.

"Straight From the Press: Effective PR Strategies for Investment Companies" surveyed financial journalists from a cross section of national media, including print, televisiona nd the Internet. It attempts to assess, officials with Boston-based FRC said, whether there is a correlation between public relations and advertising and how they together impact a journalists perception of investment companies. By using those journalists as a proxy for shareholders, officials said, the study offers fund companies insight into not only the journalists they court, but investors as well. Such insight advances strategic marketing initiatives, they said.

"Investment firms shifted into defensive, or protective, mode after the initial stages of the market downturn in 2000 and have stayed there ever since," said John Benvenuto, director of Mutual Fund Research at FRC. "This study uncovers PR opportunities for investment firms today as seen by financial journalists."

Some information uncovered by the study includes the fact that journalists continue to turn to the Internet to perform their jobs, but they are expressing a new degree of distress over the lack of current and usable information posted at company websites. The study also ranks the best websites and pressrooms, the most widely sought after information, and which company sites journalists visit most often.

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