Based on analysis of 1,500 print business publications around the world, the Institute calculated that there were 10,386 "Newsworthy Crises" in 2008, up from 10,010 in 2007.
ICM's top 10 most crisis-prone businesses of 2008 included Madoff Investments at the top of the list, followed by Boeing, Societe Generale S.A., and General Motors. The most crisis-prone industries were banking, the food industry, security brokers and investment companies, the petroleum industry, and the insurance industry.
Eight of the 16 crisis categories monitored by ICM saw an increase of 18% or more in 2008, including workplace violence (18%), defects and recalls (44%), and environmental incidents (48%). But while the percentages seem high, ICM reported, the actual number of crises events is relatively low.
Meanwhile, ICM calculated that negative news coverage of these crises was up, thanks in part to election year coverage, which emphasized the bad news in mainstream media.
"The impact of the Internet and social media cannot be discounted," ICM stated in its report. "Stories move quickly on the Internet forcing mainstream media to take notice and often report on issues that editors otherwise might have missed or ignored."
Not surprisingly, agencies have told PRWeek that crisis and public affairs work continue to be important revenue streams. This year several firms also opened new specialities to focus on clients growing crisis needs, such as Burson-Marsteller's "Product Integrity" practice, and Text 100's new crisis-focused consulting services.