Reputation in America

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April 18, 2010

Reputation in America

       Industry reputation is critical to companies today. It is many times more important than it used to be. Years ago, one company could have its reputation damaged and it did not tarnish the reputation of its peers. Today, one rotten apple affects the entire industry which is why we now hear so much about sectors when it comes to reputation – the financial sector, the pharmaceutical sector, the oil sector, the automotive sector, etc.  The media frequently reports on various industry associations banding together to promote their reputations. Industry reputations rise and fall but whatever problems they may have, the reputation after shocks for industries seem to linger for a long time. Whereas individual companies can repair their reputation in due course, it often seems harder for industry reputations to do the same. Weber Shandwick asked this question of executives a few years ago in our Safeguarding Reputation research and found that executives the world over consider industry reputation much harder to manage than company reputation (57% vs. 39%).
Harris Interactive’s latest research on reputation among consumers asked about sector reputation.  The greatest year over year reputation improvements were seen in the retail and the automotive industries.  Of 13 industries studied, only the pharmaceutical industry declined from 2008 to 2009. The financial services sector which is often in the headlines increased which I found interesting.  Perhaps the recovery is lifting perceptions of that industry and people believe that reform and stablility is finally on its way. Maybe they feel that there have been enough apologies and it is time to move on. Hard to know without asking.

 Positive Ratings 2008Positive Ratings 2009Change
1.Technology67%72%5%
2.Travel and Tourism48524
3. Retail43529
4. Consumer Products43496
5.Telecom43474
6.Manufacturing33407
7.Pharmaceutical3129-2
8.Energy/Utilities29334
9. Airlines23241
10.Insurance22231
11.Automotive16259
12. Tobacco11110
13. Financial Services11165

Annual RQ 2009 USA, April 2010

When it comes to overall corporate reputation, consumers are not as negative as they were one year ago, according to Harris Interactive’s research. In 2009, 81% said today’s reputation of corporate America was not good or terrible. This compares favorably to 2008 when 88% said so. Still the figures are damming.  Harris Interactive reports that the increase in perceptions of good corporate reputations in the U.S. is the first increase in four years. We will take whatever we can get.  Let the “good” times roll.

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Leslie Gaines-Ross
Leslie Gaines-Ross
lesliegainesross@gmail.com

As Weber Shandwick’s Chief Reputation Strategist, I focus on the ever changing world of reputation. For the past 25 years, I have relentlessly observed, researched and commented on the rise and fall of reputations.

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