DIARY: M&S leads Northern Rock in the latest PR Wars media coverage chart

PRWeek's monthly barometer of corporate PR work - the PR Wars league tables - will once again get the comms teams quaking.

Results for the first four months of the year see Marks & Spencer - the store known as 'Beleaguered Retailer Marks & Spencer' among most of the media just a few short months ago - retain top spot in the chart, earning double the positive coverage points of the second-placed firm, building society Northern Rock.

Readers will recall that at the end of the year the top team overall will win a dinner for ten at south London hostelry Vinopolis. The losers will be sent to the Tower of London for the day.

The stats, compiled for PRWeek by monitoring and evaluation service PressWatch and worked out by assigning positive and negative value to firms' media coverage, also points to evidence of an outbreak of PR karma.

Telecoms giant NTL, which earlier this year put plans to hire a consumer PR agency on hold (after first letting the agencies pitch), slid into the bottom ten of the chart after taking a media hiding as its financial woes mounted.

Elsewhere BSkyB (seventh best) has wasted no time in capitalising on the demise of former rival ITV Digital (second worst), leaping into the top ten at the expense of the likes of Nationwide, ABN Amro and BMW.

At least things have not yet got so bad for ITV Digital and NTL as to challenge the bottom firm. Quite what a company would have to do to achieve a profile to rival accountancy firm Andersen, is the stuff of most PROs' nightmares.

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