Microsoft maintained its position as king of the corporate media reputation hill in 2007, once again leading the Cision Index — formerly known as the Delahaye Index — of the 100 largest corporations in the U.S. At the same time, the 2007 analysis revealed a surprising turnaround in the media portrayal of the struggling U.S. auto industry.
The assessment of how news coverage reflects and helps shape corporate reputations of the 100 largest corporations in the U.S. is compiled quarterly by Cision (www.us.cision.com), a provider of business and communications intelligence for public relations and marketing professionals.
“Microsoft has been the overall strongest Index company since 2001, and in its worst showing it only dropped to the second position,” said Joe Bernardo, President and CEO of Cision North America. Microsoft Corp. has been first in the U.S. Index rankings for four straight years and six of the last seven. In 2007, the world’s largest software company generated positive financial results and received favorable attention for its product and service announcements, new business partnerships and acquisitions.
“In 2007, critical acclaim and strong sales of the Halo 3 game for Microsoft X-Box console got the company high marks from the media as Microsoft looked to replicate its desktop and enterprise software success in its entertainment business,” said Wayne Bullock, Sr. Vice President,
Analysis Services, of Cision.
Stark Depiction of Auto Industry Reversed in 2007
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the 2007 Index is the turnaround made by U.S. automakers Ford Motor Company and General Motors Corp. In spite of an ongoing struggle to cope with profitability challenges and loss of U.S. market share, GM soared to second place of the top 100 U.S. corporations, moving up 70 spots, while Ford climbed 86 spots to number 12. Auto industry supplier Delphi Corporation also gained ground, moving up 34 to number 65 on the list.
“One year after dropping precipitously in the top 100, GM and Ford did an outstanding job conveying their turn-around strategies and facing difficult challenges head-on,” said Bullock.
Both Ford and GM benefited from profitable second quarters, as well as reaching contract agreements with the United Auto Workers (UAW). GM also swept the 2007 North American Car and Truck of the Year awards at the North American International Auto Show. Ford generated positive visibility with the introduction of fuel efficient vehicles, and Delphi benefited from its new refinancing plan, as well as its UAW agreement and settlement of class action lawsuits.
Standings Sink in Financial Services; Decline in the Home Improvement
On the down side, some of the biggest decliners were from the financial services industry. This was especially evident in the fourth quarter when Citigroup Inc., Bank of America Corporation, Merrill Lynch & Co. and Wachovia Corporation all dropped from the top half to the bottom of the Index. For the year, home improvement companies The Home Depot, Inc. and Lowe’s Companies, Inc. both fell, 32 and 34 places respectively.
“Media coverage of financial services companies was dogged by issues such as the subprime mortgage crisis and the weakening economy, heading into what could be a tough 2008,” Bullock said. “And home improvement companies also suffered from unfavorable financial stories that affected their rankings due to the ongoing housing slump.”
Other Industries See Gains
For the first time in Index history, two telecommunications companies, AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc., made the top ten. Buoyed by increased media coverage of its partnership with Apple Inc. as the sole service provider for the iPhone, AT&T advanced 33 places to capture the number three spot. Verizon finished in the top ten for the fourth straight year, advancing three places from 2006, to number five.
Other big movers on the Index were Merck & Co., Inc., up 70 places on the list to number 24, The Kroger Co., up 41 to number 25, Tyson Foods, Inc., up 35 to number 61, and The Procter & Gamble Company, up 32 to 27th place on the list.
Two companies entered the top 10 for the first time in 2007, with Cisco Systems, Inc. in ninth place and News Corp. in 10th. Cisco reported strong revenues and profits, announced plans to expand into China and acquired an online meeting company, furthering its push into business communications. News Corp.’s takeover of Dow Jones & Company, Inc. received coverage during three quarters. The company also started the Fox Business Channel and its MySpace subsidiary entered the Chinese market.
2007 Year-End Cision Index – U.S. Edition: Top 10 Companies
2. General Motors
6. Walt Disney
10. News Corp.
Methodology of the 2007 Cision Index – U.S. Edition
Cision’s Corporate Media Reputation Index includes analysis of news items to rank the media reputations of the largest 100 U.S. companies. Cision gathers news from America’s most prominent national dailies, and top business and news magazines, ranging from The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal to Fortune and Forbes. Each company is assigned a score based on the number of positive and negative reputation-driving attributes found in each story. These attributes are classified into five dimensions: stakeholder relations, financial management, products and services, organizational integrity and organizational strength.