NORWALK, CT: Microsoft has jumped from fourth place to pole position in Delahaye Medialink's third annual media reputation index (MRi) survey.
The syndicated media analysis, developed in conjunction with the Reputation Institute, ranks the Hoover 100 - the largest US companies - according to how they were portrayed by the media throughout 2002.
Microsoft's new products, such as Xbox, and its success in overcoming legal woes were cited as reasons for its rise to the top. Wal-Mart - sixth in 2001 - moved up to the number-two position due to acquisitions and expansion into new markets. Walt Disney, General Motors, and IBM made up the rest of the top five, respectively.
Among the top 25's biggest growers was 11th-placed American Express, rocketing up 20 spots from number 31 the year before. Although the company's decision to remove some membership benefits was less than popular, its decreasing financial problems sent it climbing. Ford (up 47 places), JC Penney (up 28) and Hewlett-Packard (up 19 spots, from 26 to seven) were other significant improvers.
The biggest droppers were WorldCom, down 56 places to number 99, and Kmart, falling 55 spots to become the fourth-lowest-ranked company. Enron was given the lowest reputation ranking of all.
Over 100,000 print and broadcast media items from 80 of the top outlets were analyzed in developing the index. Rankings were determined from composite scores based on four measurements: volume, reach, quality, and tone of the stories. The latter two criteria were judged according to six attributes: emotional appeal, products and services, vision and leadership, workplace environment, social responsibility, and financial performance.
Mark Weiner, CEO of Delahaye, said "MRi is representative of what people are hearing from unvested journalists, which is what leads to perceptions developing about an organization. The importance of corporate reputation is increasing and, as a result, PR is gaining visibility."
MRI SURVEY'S TOP FIVE US COMPANIES
2002 2001 Company
1 4 Microsoft - Legal problems behind, new products like
Xbox became focus of attention
2 6 Wal-Mart - Dominating the US, Wal-Mart looked to
acquisitions and new markets
3 2 Disney - Uncertain economy hits theme parks,
but DVDs and new films help drive coverage
4 8 General Motors - A strong message of sales incentives
paid off for Detroit's largest automaker
5 3 IBM - Looked past the IT downturn with acquisitions
and new partnerships