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March 30, 2015

How Europe’s top 500 companies fare in the communications “stress test”

In a challenging and competitive business environment, Webranking investigates how well the largest European listed companies meet the growing expectations …

In a challenging and competitive business environment, Webranking investigates how well the largest European listed companies meet the growing expectations of stakeholders in terms of transparency and dialogue through digital channels.

Webranking as a transparency stress test

As published today by Forbes, Webranking’s latest assessment of Europe’s top 500 companies is out, a “stress test” that provides insights into the health of transparency and dialogue in corporate communications.

Based on stakeholder needs – tracked through annual surveys – the research evaluates companies’ ability to distinguish themselves in an increasingly competitive environment and how they respond to external information requests. The companies that pass this stress test demonstrate an ability to govern their reputation in digital channels: they create an opportunity to build a “premium” status with key stakeholders, which can facilitate access to capital and business markets, help attract the best talent and build capacities for better handling reputational crises.

Disappointing pass rate of Europe’s largest companies, but improving

Considering 50 points out of 100 as the threshold at which companies respond adequately to market requirements, only 92 companies in Europe passed the test in 2014, increasing from 79 companies in 2013, but a 19% pass rate is disappointing. At the other end of the scale, a quarter of companies scored less than 30 points, meaning that they neither present a minimum of content expected by the market nor explain their business in a compelling way.

Raising their game: technology and stakeholder dialogue gain traction

In spite of the difference between the best and worst performing European companies, there are many positive signs in this year’s Webranking as ever more companies invest in digital communications, evidenced by the fact that almost 55% of companies improved their score. Part of this improvement is driven by the adoption of mobile-friendly responsive websites – up from 11% in 2013 to 24% last year – and engagement with stakeholders on a wider range of digital channels that include social networks such as Twitter and LinkedIn (the proportion of corporate websites linking social channels doubled to 60%).

Northern countries score high on transparency

Taking the largest companies in each country in order to compare like-with-like, Finland retained its position at the head of the scoreboard. It was followed by a narrow margin by its Nordic neighbour Sweden with Germany in third. While Northern countries dominate the country rankings, the podium was made up of three Italian companies: oil giant Eni, gas utility Snam and Telecom Italia. The three best improvers – Friends Life Group (+16.5 points), EDP Renováveis (+16.4) and Nokian Renkaat (+15.3) – hail from the UK, Portugal and Finland, respectively.

Sector performance: chemicals best, retailers and banks lag behind

Chemicals came out on top with an average of 45 points, led by German giants BASF and Bayer with strong performances also in healthcare (see examples of Lundbeck and Roche), averaging 44.3 points. At the other end, among the disappointments we find retailers (32.5 points) and banks (36.2 points) along with other financial service providers (28.5 points).

Staffan Lindgren, Managing Partner, Comprend: “Despite assessing the biggest multinationals, the stress finds most European companies are not up to the mark. Thankfully, the trend is improving.”

Over the next period, we will publish detailed reports that dig into the specific situation of European industry sectors and their digital communications, starting next week with the insurance sector, followed by banks, oil & gas and construction.

Top 10 EUROPE 500

1 Eni



2 Snam



3 Telecom Italia






5 Wärtsilä



6 Swedish Match



7 Fortum



8 Skanska



9 Danske Bank



10 Swedbank



Download the full European results report.

See the full Europe 500 results list here.

For further information about Webranking and our company reports, contact Helena Wennergren at helena.wennergren@comprend.com.