LOUISVILLE: Companies faced fewer crisis situations last year than at any time since 2000, reported the Institute for Crisis Management.
"After two years of corporate meltdown and overtime by the nation's prosecutors, white collar crime was down, along with declines in casualty accidents, defects and recalls, and workplace violence," said the institute in its annual crisis report.
The number of white collar crimes covered by major media dropped 34% last year compared with 2003, while stories on product defects and recalls fell 70%.
Coverage of environmental crises jumped 12% principally because of the tsunami that impacted business in Asia.
The pharmaceutical industry was the most crisis-prone last year, followed by software makers and insurance companies.
The institute, which offers crisis counseling services, each year looks at crisis coverage by more than 1,500 newspapers, magazines, wire services, regional business publications, and trade publications worldwide.
The number of crises covered in 2001 hit 10,104, the highest the institute has found since it began doing its survey in 1990.
The companies that topped the list of crisis news last year were Merck, which had issues with its arthritis drug Vioxx drug, Wal-Mart, and Enron, which has been on the institute's most-crisis-prone list for four of the past five years.
Actions by corporate managers accounted for 14% of business crises last year, more than any other single cause, said Larry Smith, president of the institute.
Most crises fall into the category the institute calls "smoldering" -- issues that might have been prevented from becoming crises if companies had acted sooner to correct small problems before they grew into major ones.
The institute classified 71% of the crises faced by companies last year as "smoldering" vs. 29% that were "sudden crises."
"That is a wakeup call to all management that they need to pay attention to what is going on in their companies," said Smith.