Media relations pays off as Asda leads reputation poll

Supermarket chain Asda has taken the top spot in this month’s Reputation Monitor due to the favourable coverage of its role in the Safeway takeover, as well as its involvement in the debate over football shirt pricing.

Reputation Monitor compilers Thomson Intermedia found that, based on its National News Index methodology, Asda achieved the most positive coverage in the financial and business press between 14 July and 15 August.

According to Thomson Intermedia business development director Jon Shepherd, Asda had a good month due to its diversity of media relations work, which included positive mentions surrounding the takeover of Safeway.

He said that Asda’s HR policy was also well reported after it rewarded staff with an extra day’s holiday when the company moved up to number two slot of the UK’s top supermarkets listings.

Shepherd said: ‘Asda really is the big story this month. It managed to say the right thing at the right time – its undercutting of Manchester United’s own outlets for the sale of replica shirts was perfectly timed.

‘There were some negative stories Asda got dragged into, such as the EU rulings on “healthy” food, but they seemed to have paled in light of all the positive coverage.’

Last month’s top-placed firm Tesco dropped to third this month. It was let down over the past month by negative coverage of its ban on bikini-clad women and photographing shoppers for security measures.

In addition, the good news of its UK jobs creation was diluted by its plans to move some jobs to India.

New entries in this month’s top ten include broadcast giant BSkyB, which garnered positive coverage for its retention of exclusive rights to broadcast live coverage if matches in the football Premiership.

At the bottom of the chart the BBC has appeared for the first time, with only Enron achieving worse coverage.

This is largely due to the BBC’s central role in the inquiry into the death of government weapons expert Dr David Kelly, but also to reports of losing viewers.

This was only offset to some extent by its winning back of Premiership highlights for the 2004-2005 season.

Other companies that featured in the bottom ten of the chart were Railtrack, Prudential and British Airways.

The airline, which finished fifth from bottom in the chart, has had a torrid four weeks, climaxing with a staff walkout at Heathrow Airport over the introduction of swipe cards (PRWeek, 8 August).

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