Quick Study: Not All CEOs Distrusted; Web Habits Give Marketing Fractured Focus; CR in Modern Economy; Jump in PSAs

*Heads of the Class: There may be a national and global shortage of trust in America's leaders, as reflected by the tarnished reputations of corporate America, the U.S. government and the country's financial system, but there is a bright spot: Recent findings from the Reputation Institute show that leaders' reputations can be strengthened though a strategic combination of heartfelt actions and communication. The 2008 Most Admired CEO Study asked consumers to name up to three CEOs in the U.S. that they most admire, revealing the following hierarchy: 1. Bill Gates 2. Donald Trump 3. Warren Buffett 4. Oprah Winfrey 5. Steve Jobs 6. Lee Iacocca 7. Sam Walton 8. Martha Steward 9. Ross Perot 10. Mitt Romney The "Most Admired CEO" status of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett parallels the high Global Pulse 2008 rankings in leadership received by Microsoft and Berkshire Hathaway, which ranked fourth and fifth in the U.S., respectively. As for the citizenship marks, both leaders' massive monetary donations failed to land their companies in the top five Corporate Citizenship ranking. Google, Johnson & Johnson and Disney topped this list. Based on performance, Gates, Buffett and Jobs have led their companies to the 2nd, 5th and 9th places on the Performance ranking. Google topped this list, but CEO Eric Schmidt lacked name recognition. Many survey respondents nominated "whoever owns Google," but couldn't mention him by name. Another report from the Reputation Institute demonstrated a distinct link between corporate reputation and sincere messaging. Topping the list as the most sincere is Kraft Foods, followed by Walt Disney, Johnson & Johnson, General Mills and Google. These five companies also ranked highest in overall reputation, the study found. Source: Reputation Institute *Fractured Web Marketing Focus: Rubicon Consulting conducted a survey of U.S. Web users to better understand how people use the Web and engage in online communities, and how the latter activity affects consumer behaviors. The findings revealed that: Approximately 60% of Web users are passive readers who contribute content only occasionally; this group accounts for only about 20% of content created depending on the medium; Another 9% are pure "lurkers" who never contribute any content; 17% are community abstainers, believing they never visit any community-related Web site. These findings support the 90-9-1 rule widely observed by marketers, which says that an online community generally doesn't represent the opinions and interests of the average customer; rather, it reflects the views of extreme enthusiasts. The study also found that, of the 10% of active contributors, online comments are second only to word of mouth as a purchase driver. Personal reviews are far more influential than official reviews. Source: Rubicon Consulting *Addressing CR in the New Economy: Findings of the Business of Social Responsibility/Cone "Corporate Responsibility in a New World" survey revealed that, despite difficult times and declining budgets, CR leaders are surprisingly optimistic, with 77% feeling positive that global business will embrace responsible business practices as part of their core strategies and operations in the next five years. Additional findings: 72% believe there will be increasing demands on business to solve social problems; More than half expect business to meet these demands; and, Nearly nine out of 10 believe President-elect Barack Obama will have a positive impact on advancing the corporate responsibility agenda around the world. Source: BSR/Cone *The Glass Is Half Full for PSAs: WestGlen Communications released research revealing that public service announcements (PSAs) are benefiting from the advertiser slowdown that is taking hold as a result of the economy. The study found an 18% spike in PSAs used to fill unsold ad time. Source: WestGlen Communications

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