Reputation Scorecards Galore

June 20, 2007

Reputation Scorecards Galore

It has been an interesting week for scorecards. Since I consider myself a scorecard maven (having cut my teeth on Fortune’s Most Admired Companies survey), my interest in new scorecards or league tables never tires. Several interesting developments in the reputation scorecard ecosystem worth noting:

1. A new climate change scorecard was launched this week (noted in The New York Times, 6/19/07). The objective of the scorecard is to inform consumers on which companies are supporting climate control so they can factor this into their purchasing decisions. The nonprofit group Climate Counts ranks companies according to their ability to halt or add to greenhouse gas emissions and how well they disclose activities. A total of 56 companies across eight industries were ranked. Super rankings went to Canon, Nike and Unilever. Interestingly, several food companies were at the bottom end of the transparency continuum. Climate Change used 22 criteria such as efforts to reduce climate impact, supporting or opposing global warming legislation, top management support, and supplier requirements.

2. Wow. The Annapolis Group, a conferation of liberal arts colleges, announced that they decided not to particpate in the U.S. News and World Report survey this year. As The New York Times reported today (6/20/07), this represents a “growing rebellion” against the magazine. Those are fighting words. Since the U.S. News college rankings are so widely used as guides for high school graduates, this is all out war. The Annapolis Group which includes colleges such as Barnard, Sarah Lawrence and Kenyon are clearly working to manage their own reputations and not leave them up to the media. The group smartly reported that they are working on their own system to compare colleges.

3. Another media reputation scorecard surfaced in my readings this week. It can be found in the work of Assistant Professor Susan Moeller at Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland. Dr. Moeller found that the news media lacks transparency –“News outlets call for transparency by others and are balking at transparency for themselves.” The study is titled Openess & Accountability and examined 25 of the world’s top news sites to see which ones publicly correct their errors, are transparent about who made the errors, list their staff, and invite reader comments and criticism. Which media received top honors? The most transparent were The Guardian, The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor and National Public Radio. Interestingly, at the bottom were Time, Al Jazeera (English), CNN and The Economist. The New York Times learned their lesson well from the Jayson Blair scandal. Hurrah for them.

Reputation scorecards are proliferating on a daily basis. We keep track of them and watch

them proliferate at record rates . There are many advantages to scorecards since they keep companies attentive to what is important and to stakeholder perceptions. However, scorecard methodologies are not always sound and buyer beware. In short, they help keep us all honest.

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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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