Retailers forge ahead on global comms while energy sector lags behind

The retail sector leads the way when it comes to good comms, a new global study has found.

Marks & Spencer: Launched Plan A in 2007
Marks & Spencer: Launched Plan A in 2007

Asked to rank which sectors communicated best, the majority of more than 6,000 members of the public spanning Brazil, Germany, Hong Kong, UAE, UK and the US opted for retail while placing the energy sector bottom of the list.  

MHP’s new Effective Communications Index showed the trend was reflected in the UK, where 26 per cent of UK respondents said the energy sector was the worst at communicating, with the financial sector following closely with 21 per cent of the vote. 

Meanwhile, 18 per cent opted for transport, 17 per cent for healthcare and 13 per cent food and drink manufacturing, with just five per cent picking the retail sector as worst. 

However, this pattern was bucked in the US and Germany, where transport companies fared worst, and Brazil, where healthcare was bottom. 

MHP CEO Gavin Devine pointed to reputational gains made across the retail sector:

"Retail has done a lot to improve its reputation as a good employer, both by offering the flexibility that people want and providing training and support. 

"More than that, though, is the sense that that some of the higher profile retailers have done a great job in being transparent, and opening up when it comes to their supply chains."

Referencing Tesco, which recently revealed its food waste figures, and Marks & Spencer’s Plan A sustainability drive, he added: 

"In a sense these big names have transcended the idea of CSR, in that the work is being seen as a core part of their business and proposition.

"Sometimes you have to accept that the public zeitgeist is against you, as with financial services in the past few years, but the lesson for other sectors is to consistently communicate in a positive way."

The survey also revealed that overall 85 per cent believed that being open and transparent was the most important factor in delivering effective comms, a figure that was even higher in the UK, where 88 per cent stated it was important or very important reputationally. 

The next most important factors globally were having a reputation as a good employer (75 per cent); strong connections with the community (69 per cent); strong visible leadership (66 per cent); a powerful brand (51 per cent), and social media presence (39 per cent.)

When asked to pick the top three priorities for companies responding to a crisis, 58 per cent opted for a quick response as one of their answers, with the same percentage pointing to forming plans to avoid repeating the mistake as equally crucial. 

Meanwhile, an apology in a crisis situation was deemed more important in the UK than any other country polled, with 28 per cent placing it in their top three priorities, compared with 21 per cent globally.

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