Wal-Mart's efficient response to hurricane Katrina generated large volumes of positive media coverage as the company delivered emergency relief to affected employees and citizens. The company's success was contrasted with the negative response of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Still, as with many of the top-ranked companies this quarter, Wal-Mart produced a significant amount of negative media attention, but the positive coverage outweighed negative news of workplace bias and community backlash.
Garnering the highest volume of media coverage for the past two quarters, General Motors Corp. (NYSE:GM) remained in fourth place. Because the Index tracks consumer as well as business news, GM's poor financial performance and credit rating downgrade were superseded by positive consumer-oriented news of an aggressive employee-pricing campaign and the announcement of new hybrid engines for better fuel efficiency.
After several quarters of high-profile negative coverage, AIG (NYSE:AIG) demonstrated the most improvement, advancing 40 spots to 59th place from first quarter to third quarter of this year.
"While an individual can assess a single news item, one story is not a broad gauge across all constituencies. For example, Wal-Mart's coverage may appear to be polarized, with a significant volume of positive and negative news, but when examined, we see that the company's coverage is fairly balanced," stated Delahaye President, Mark Weiner. "While the average tone of the company's coverage has been decreasing during the past few quarters, Wal-Mart still enjoys positive coverage about its overseas expansion, Katrina relief efforts and its push towards more upscale product lines."
He continued, "In the case of GM, we see that visibility, even when it trends positive, may not be sufficient to stem a downward business cycle. That being said, the companies that recover most quickly are those with the best reputation, and to that end, the good will engendered through the media may hold some advantage for GM's recovery."
Delahaye found that the overall coverage of news improved most dramatically for the financial sector during the past year, as the media shifted attention away from stories of negative, high-profile corporate wrongdoing to stories about corporate advancement and continued economic performance. Reflecting this trend, Merrill Lynch (NYSE:MER) advanced ten places since the fourth quarter of 2004 and The Goldman Sachs Group (NYSE:GS) climbed nine spots during this same period to sixth place.
Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) ranked second in the Index, elevated by news of strong revenue growth, product development and financial management.
The Q2 2005 Delahaye Index: Top Ten Companies 1. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. 2. Microsoft Corporation 3. The Walt Disney Company 4. General Motors Corporation 5. The Boeing Company 6. Goldman Sachs 7. IBM 8. General Electric 9. Exxon Mobil 10. Verizon
Methodology of the 2005 Delahaye Index
Delahaye begins by gathering news from America's most prominent national news sources. From the New York Times and The Wall Street Journal to Fortune, ABC World News Tonight and Bloomberg, Delahaye captures news from all of the nation's most influential general and business media. The 2005 Delahaye Index includes analyses of different print and broadcast news items to measure the reputations of the top 100 U.S. companies.
Each company's score is based on how many positive and negative reputation-driving attributes are found within each story. These attributes are classified into five dimensions: stakeholder relations, financial management, products and services, organizational integrity and organizational strength.
Delahaye (www.delahaye.com), a division of Bacon's Information Inc., is an international, award-winning research and analysis firm that specializes in helping clients understand and actively manage their public relations and communications programs. Through Delahaye, clients gain the market intelligence they need to improve communications effectiveness and return-on-investment. The company has domestic offices in Norwalk, Conn., Portsmouth, N.H., and Washington, D.C., with international headquarters in London and partners around the globe.
About Bacon's Information Inc.:
Bacon's (www.bacons.com) helps marketing and PR professionals maximize results in media relations. Bacon's provides integrated service solutions designed to give clients the ability to target their messages efficiently, customize distribution of information, monitor media coverage and evaluate campaigns to determine if PR objectives have been met.
About Observer AB:
Observer AB (listed on the O-list (Attract 40) of Stockholmsborsen, Sweden) is a global industry leader in business and communication intelligence. The firm provides media and market monitoring, analysis and communication evaluation, as well as target group identification and distribution of information of PR and IR purposes. Observer AB has annual earnings of nearly SEK 1.5 billion, and has 2,500 employees in the United States, United Kingdom, Sweden, Canada, Germany, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Portugal, Ireland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.