Relational Capital & Media Brands


  • Scott Erickson Ithaca College
  • Helen Rothberg Marist College



intellectual capital, relational capital, brand equity, media brands, sentiment analysis


Continuing a research program studying new metrics for relational capital, this paper reports on a new analysis of media brands, both traditional and newer entrants.  Relational capital is a key aspect of the knowledge assets or intellectual capital of the firm.  Unlike human capital (job-related knowledge) or structural capital (knowledge incorporated into the firm itself), relational capital has to do with external relationships.  Specifically, knowledge about handling external relationships, especially those with customers.  Relational capital is not a widely studied topic in knowledge management (KM) or intellectual capital (IC), including potential metrics.  Brand equity, on the other hand, is an idea from another field that is well-known and much studied.  While not the same concept as relational capital, it is clearly related as brand equity comes from a history of customer interactions and the value of the relationships built by the firm.  Better knowledge of what satisfies customers plays an obvious role in building brand equity.  But brand equity does not have a single, recognized method for calculation.  Annual reports and rankings from marketing consulting firms routinely provide estimates of brand equity for high-value, well-known brands.  Most of the other brands, not so much.  Even so, if we know the brands with the highest equity values and can tie some additional metrics to that status, we can begin to uncover the level of customer knowledge held by individual firms and, by extension, relational capital in a wider variety of organizations.  This study focuses on a brand sentiment analysis, using commercial software from Salesforce Social Studio.  The web-scraping software collects mentions of a brand (or any keyword) across the web, not only social media but reviews, aggregators, and other sources of brand commentary.  From that capability, an assessment of the brand’s meaning to users can be assessed at a point in time.  In particular, this study looked at established media brands (New York Times, Wall Street Journal, etc.) and new media brands (Buzzfeed, Techcrunch, etc.) over a three-month period in early 2023.  Data were collected on brand activity (volume), sentiment (positive/negative), sources, influencers, country of origin/language, and other indicators, including the variance of all the above measures.  From there, comparisons can be made across the more established brands and the developing ones, as well as to high-equity brands from other industries (covered in other studies).  As noted, some suggestions can then be made concerning what metrics to track over time to assess the ongoing value of relational capital.