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Ranking Corporate Reputations

The WSJ reports on this years Harris Interactive Survey on corporate reputations. No Dell or SBC in the top ten this year – I got used to seeing them.
 
This year did mark improvement for Tech across the rankings: “The technology industry is the exception. In the reputation survey, Harris Interactive Inc., a Rochester, N.Y., research firm, found that most industries, particularly automotive, airlines, pharmaceuticals and energy, lost ground in the ratings. Only the tobacco industry ranked lower than energy and pharmaceuticals.”
 
Highlighting that behavior is as much a determinant of reputation as media relations or profits, the oil companies took a beating… “The three oil companies in the survey — Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp., and Royal Dutch Shell PLC — received low ratings and a scolding from the public for the “heartless” spike in prices at the pump and their gusher of profits.”

A sidebar story speaks to the role of “word of mouth” in shaping reputation: “For the first time in its seven-years of studying corporate reputation, Harris Interactive Inc. analyzed the effect of word-of-mouth communication and found that it strongly influences reputation and people’s plans to buy a company’s products. The survey of the American public shows that word-of-mouth — comments from friends, family members, co-workers and others — carries much more weight than corporate advertising and public relations.” Well, duh… no surprise there. They should have also added, “or the media”. They wrap it up with this:
“The Harris study reinforces the importance of monitoring word-of-mouth messages, including chatter in blogs and other sites on the Internet. Companies are remiss if “they aren’t getting a handle on what’s being said about them and trying to manage it,” says Jonathan Dewitt, a senior vice president in Harris’s Wirthlin Brand & Strategy Consulting group. “Companies should start trying to measure PR, promotional events and sponsorships based on their impact on what people are talking about and whether or not it’s positive talk.”

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