Corporate efforts to globalize through acquisition meet resistance in certain media—particularly in a company’s home country. Multinational companies impacted by this trend include Hoechst in the German media, British Airways in the U.K. media, and DaimlerChrysler in the U.S. press.
This was among the key findings by international communications research and consulting firm Delahaye Medialink in its inaugural International Image Study released today. The study comprised analyses of nearly 2,000 news stories in key business media in major markets around the world.
The report found that Hoechst’s German media coverage was a whopping 22 percent negative, compared to only seven percent negative coverage in the rest of the world. That negativity was driven by sentiment that Hoechst would lose its national identity following its merger with Rhone-Poulenc, a French company.
Similarly, British Airway’s stalled alliance with American Airlines and Iberia resulted in 25 percent negative coverage in the U.K., while only five percent of its coverage in all other countries was negative. Daimler Benz’ acquisition of Chrysler was met with more skepticism in the U.S. Nearly 15 percent of DaimlerChrysler’s US media coverage was negative versus only six percent on average in media outside the U.S.
“This shows that companies wishing to become ‘global’ instantly through mergers and acquisitions face a significant media relations challenge—particularly in their own backyards. It also shows that companies today have global reputations—whether they like it or not — and they need to manage them accordingly,” said Katharine Delahaye Paine, President of Delahaye Medialink.
Other findings of the study include:
·         Multinational companies face more skeptical media in their home country than they do in overseas media—regardless of whether the news concerns mergers. The average level of negative coverage in a company’s home country media is 15 percent, while only 10 percent in overseas media. However, the U.S. media was more critical of companies based outside its borders than was the media in other countries.
·         Ford and DaimlerChrysler were considered the most “global” of the corporations studied. Both led all companies in volume of coverage outside their home countries, and both were positioned in more stories as having an “international presence.”
·         The most popular issues in the global business press related to financial strength and corporate strategy — each appeared in nearly one in ten news stories. The least-covered issue was corporate citizenship, which appeared in less than two percent of all stories analyzed.
·         Employee commitment (i.e. labor relations) is a much bigger media issue internationally than it is in the U.S., particularly in Spain and France where the issue appears in nearly one in ten stories published—a level comparable to the top issues worldwide.