Corporate Media Impressions Plummet In '03, 'Net Effect' Improves

Print and electronic media outlets, transfixed by issues of war, national security and a wide range of domestic and global issues, dramatically decreased the amount of coverage they devoted to U.S. corporations during the third quarter and first nine months of 2003 versus the same period in 2002, according to estimates released last week by corporate reputation researcher Delahaye and the Reputation Institute.

During the third quarter, the Fortune 100 companies generated 37,154 stories among the U.S. media outlets, 40 percent fewer than they garnered during the third quarter of 2002. Through the first nine months, the number of stories written about corporate America declined from 118,668 in 2003 to 193,597.

Those stories translated into 53 billion media impressions during the third quarter (down 34 percent from the third quarter of 2002) and 165.3 billion media impressions through the first nine months (down 31 percent from the same period in 2002).

Corporate Media Impressions



Q3 2003 Vs Q2 '02 1st 9 Months '03 Vs. 1st 9 Months '02
53.0 billion -34% 165.3 billion -31%

Source: The Media Reputation Index, Delahaye and The Reputation Institute. Base = The Fortune 100 companies.

But unlike the advertising business where fewer media impressions would be a negative for most companies, less coverage apparently meant better results for most U.S. corporations in 2003, as the tone of coverage generally was more positive than in 2002.

Utilizing proprietary analytics, Delahaye distills the volume of media coverage into a so-called "Net Effect," a metric that weighs both the prominence and tone of news coverage to determine the positive or negative impact they have on a company's esteem.

The overall effect in 2003 has been positive, as the media apparently have shifted from issues of corporate wrongdoing and financial recklessness to stories about corporate improvements.

One indication of that has been the ascendancy of Walt Disney Co. to the top position in Delahaye's Media Reputation Index (MRi), the second quarter in a row that the company has held that position.

The MRi data shows the positive net effect of news stories about top U.S. corporations grew nearly threefold over the third quarter of 2002.

"Third quarter 2003 represents a bellwether in the media's treatment of the nation's 100 largest companies, as this is the first quarter in the history of the study in which not a single company had a negative aggregate score," noted Mark Weiner, chief executive officer of Delahaye. "This relatively positive media outlook seems reflective of America's generally upbeat business environment, as the nation's journalists have turned their focus away from negative corporate behavior and scandal."

Top 10 Ranked By PR Media Impressions

Ranked By Net Effect Media Impressions Vs. Q3 '02
Walt Disney 2,529.0 million -23%
Microsoft 2,791.6 million +1%
Wal-mart 1,915.7 million -9%
AOL Time Warner 1,831.5 million -4%
Home Depot 1,268.4 million +22%
General Electric 1,422.9 million -36%
General Motors 1,759.0 million -12%
Intel 1,122.3 million -38%
Merrill Lynch 1,763.3 million -43%
IBM 1,267.8 million -32%

Source: The Media Reputation Index, Delahaye and The Reputation Institute.
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