Rankings Management

Underpin communication strategy with rankings and ratings

June 07, 22


In February, an unknown German institute published a ranking of 25 major companies on the integrity of their climate protection promises, which were, mildly put, catastrophic. Nestlé, Ikea, BMW, Deutsche Post and many others were accused of clear greenwashing. The ranking, which had only been published by press release, was picked up by leading media across Germany and Europe.
Every year, hundreds of rankings and ratings are published in various media, measuring the performance of multinational companies. The reason for their ever-increasing popularity is that rankings provide simple answers to complex questions. They serve the need to simplify a complicated world in order to enable quick decisions. It is hardly surprising that readers of rankings often pay little or no attention to the method on which they are based. Not everything that comes to light in the world of rankings is scientifically based. But who cares when a ranking appears in a prestigious source?
Rankings management for corporate communicators
Corporate communicators should be aware of the rankings their company is listed in and how they compare to competitors, as well as the messages being communicated by those rankings. They should incorporate relevant rankings into their press monitoring and PR strategy as "3rd party endorsements." However, it can be challenging as many companies lack centralised processes for managing rankings. A systematic, centralised management strategy for ranking and ratings can help communication strategists capitalise on opportunities and mitigate risks. This includes quick communication when ranking results need to be explained and actively managing the right company rankings to support the company's positioning.
A holistic view of the company's positioning
An effective ranking management strategy for corporate communicators includes a comprehensive overview of all relevant rankings that evaluate the company or its competitors and appear in important markets. By aggregating the ranks, a holistic view of the company's positioning can be obtained and compared to competitors. This analysis allows for the identification of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and risks. Rankings should be prioritised and categorized based on objective criteria, such as media reach or internal assessment of ranking methodology. Additionally, it is important to consider the "manageability" of rankings, as some rankings require companies to participate by providing data or being reviewed, while others are based on public data or surveys. Based on this assessment, an action plan can be developed and aligned with the communication strategy. An example of a manageable ranking is the "World Changing Ideas" innovation ranking by FastCompany. It recognises products, concepts, companies, strategies and designs that drive innovation for the benefit of society and the planet. It has a variety of lists, including a cross-industry list, region-specific lists, and lists focusing on specific issues such as CSR. The ranking has a transparent methodology and a clear submission process. There are many rankings in which companies can actively influence their rank by submitting application materials, filling out surveys, and publishing certain data on the website or in the annual report. Even in rankings where company participation is not intended, actions can be taken to improve the company's visibility and reputation.
"Manageable" Rankings Aggregation
Companies that are most successful in actively managing rankings are Unilever, Microsoft, SAP, Accenture, L'Oréal, Siemens, Nestlé, and Cisco. Unilever was present in more than half of the defined rankings (16 out of 25) and had the best performance score in the analysis. Siemens, the only German company in the top 8, had an impressive 15 listings. Some examples of the "manageable" rankings in which Unilever and Siemens performed well include "The World's Most Admired Companies," "The Corporate Equality Index," and "The Bowen Craggs Index." Active management of rankings and ratings brings many benefits and should be a tool in the toolkit of any communication professional. In addition to reinforcing core messages with 3rd-party endorsements, a systematic approach can also help avoid reputation risks. However, it is not possible to completely prevent " controversies " like the one caused by the NewClimate Institute, but communication departments that are experienced in dealing with rankings will react faster and more professionally and, in the best case, point to the results of other rankings that allow for different conclusions.

Read the complete article from the magazine "Kommunikationsmanager" (german edition):  Kommunikationsstrategie mir Rankings und Ratings untermauern


Tarik Wenzel
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Thomas Stevens
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