Replication Studies about Media Publicity for Nonprofits


So, what are Replication Studies?

A simple definition of a replication study is the repetition of an experiment to confirm findings or to ensure accuracy

How do nonprofit organizations replicate previous research to confirm findings? To find out, I read an academic journal article as part of an assignment for my public relations class. The following article examines this topic thoroughly:

Helmig, B., Spraul, K., & Tremp, K. (2011). Replication studies in nonprofit research: A generalization and extension of findings regarding the media publicity of nonprofit organizations. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 41(3), 360-385. doi:10.1177/0899764011404081

The authors of this article wanted to contribute to an ongoing discussion about the best ways to conduct research for nonprofits and explore a specific topic that is relevant to nonprofit organizations in a globalized world.


Media Publicity for Nonprofit Organizations

The authors focused on the topic of media publicity for nonprofit organizations.

They explain in the article that despite a common interest in media publicity for nonprofit organizations, prior research is limited and has only focused on a few countries, such as the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and New Zealand.

They replicate Jacob’s and Glass’s (2002) New York based study in Zurich, Switzerland, to gain more insight on this topic.



The replication study was completed over a 10-year period, from 1997-2007 (original study: 1990-1998).

The article notes that the newsworthiness of nonprofit organizations is based on a number of factors previously determined by Jacob and Glass (2002):

  • Annual income
  • Organization age
  • Number of members
  • Number of paid staff
  • Number of yearly meetings

As cited in the article, these factors can be interpreted as “news factors.” As these factors increase, so does the newsworthiness of the organization.

The authors tested their theories:

  • Investigated four well-established newspapers and one free daily paper
  • Counted articles published during the 10-year span with the names of relevant nonprofits
  • Obtained data by mailing questionnaires to 666 nonprofits that listed their location in Zurich, of which they received a net sample of 209 completed questionnaires

Types of Nonprofits Used in the Replication

  • Cultural organizations (11)
  • Recreational organizations (6)
  • Educational and research organizations (17)
  • Health organizations (21)
  • Social organizations (35)
  • Environmental Organizations (10)
  • Economic associations (36)
  • Professional associations (48)
  • Political organizations (14)
  • Religious organizations (8)
  • Ethnical and multicultural organizations (1)
  • Advocacy organizations (0)
  • Unclassified (2)


The authors found that 20.1 percent of the nonprofits in the study did not have any sort of publicity in the newspapers they counted, however the replication study shows that media publicity for nonprofits is much higher in Zurich’s newspapers than New York’s.

They also find that nonprofits prefer certain channels in which to gain media attention, with a majority preferring to appear in newspapers (70.8 percent), magazines (60.8 percent), and events (51.7 percent).

Interestingly, the study also finds that the income, number of members and number of chapters of a nonprofit organization strongly influences media publicity.



In the replication study, the sample size was small in general and they only received 209 out of more than 600 mailed questionnaires.

Likewise, this study wasn’t identical to the original study because the authors used different nonprofit types.

Since this was a cross-cultural study, there wasn’t a “standard classification,” thus a standard had to be adapted to fit the features of the Swiss nonprofit sector.


About cykada

A student in the School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Oregon working towards a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism, majoring in public relations and minoring in communication studies and French. View all posts by cykada

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