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Digital corporate communications: the gap widens between top performers and the rest

The 20th annual edition of Webranking by Comprend, the leading in-depth research in digital communications at major listed companies, found that front-running French companies are pulling decisively ahead while laggards seem to fall desperately behind. Construction and concession Group VINCI conquered this year’s first place by achieving 66.0 points, an unprecedented score in France since the inception of Webranking.

In the study, which covered 861 corporate websites from 25 countries, the online presence of 87 listed French companies was evaluated on the basis of 100 criteria summarising the expectations of their corporate audiences such as the investment community and the financial press.

As a company’s Webranking score is increasingly recognised as a proxy for corporate transparency, findings are both encouraging and disappointing forFrench digital corporate communications: at the one end of the spectrum we see companies accelerating engagement with their audiences while at the other end we see companies failing to communicate effectively on digital channels – the corporate website - the prime source of information about the company - and social media.

This year’s winner, construction and concession Group VINCI, is a case in point among the companies that have consistently upgraded their digital communications. More than a single-year achievement – and despite a final spurt this year – Vinci’s story of digital progress is clearly one of sustained continuous improvement over a number of years.

This year’s research covered the usual topics that define the effectiveness of corporate exchanges over digital channels ranging from company introduction themes to core subject matter such as financial reporting, corporate governance, investor relations, careers and corporate responsibility. Another important feature covered by this year’s research was the ease of access to information made possible by tools such as responsiveness, search functionality and jargon explanation.

Generally, French companies were good at assembling key information on the homepage of their corporate websites and introducing themselves to visitors but not equally as good at providing investors with key information including the performance of their own share.

Financial reporting scores show this is an item that matters to French companies

The average score on this count was 47% of the total, although section winner L’Oréal achieved 73%. Companies generally performed well on the provision of items such as a PDF annual report or financial presentations. But a large number of companies still underperform on essential tools such as financial calendars and online reporting which clearly enhance communications.

The corporate governance outcome points to a substantial communications shortfall

The 87 French companies reviewed by Webranking achieved on average 29% (last year: 31%) of the maximum corporate governance score showing that quite a lot remains to be done. Vinci, the overall winner, was the top performer on this count after it scored 68% of the total score. Criteria where companies failed the most included information on insiders’ trading in the company’s shares, director remuneration and separate publication of a corporate governance report.

Digital investor relations are mostly for the regulator, less for prospective investors

This was once again a weak spot where companies averaged just 15% of the total score with a particularly poor showing in the presentation of an investment proposition, the disclosure of both the company’s financial targets and the extent of their achievement, as well as information on risk and how it is managed. Even Vinci, the best-rated company also on investor relations, did no better than 51% of the total.

Careers provided interesting digital materials overall but the record is uneven

On this key item most of the 87 French companies surveyed performed considerably well with their tally on skills development and diversity practices particularly well-developed. At the other end of the spectrum, access to the company’s HR contacts received a rock-bottom score (2%) meaning in practice that candidates are basically denied access to HR departments.

Corporate responsibility online sets strategy formulation before implementation

French companies achieved on average almost half of the maximum score on the presentation of a CSR strategy but posted a low average score (18%) on the presentation of targets and target achievements. On the communication of a responsible tax policy, only three French companies scored at all.

Access from mobile devices: developments of opposite sign

As people increasingly use mobile devices to visit websites, these are expected to enhance user experience with responsive design and high page-loading speeds. In 2016 close to 61% of companies (against approximately half of the companies surveyed last year) offered responsive websites. As for mobile loading speeds, an item where the bar was raised this year, only 22% of companies achieved a score considered as acceptable, compared to 38% last year, which is a surprising development.

Webranking by Comprend 2016-2017 – France

VINCI conquered this year’s first place by achieving 66.0 points, an unprecedented score in France since the inception of Webranking. Last year’s winner, tyre manufacturer Michelin, came in second this time round with 59.4 points, and chemicals producer Arkema rose from last year’s fifth place to take this year’s last podium spot with 55.4 points. The other Top 10 companies had mixed records as pharma company Sanofi, cosmetics company L’Oréal and aircraft manufacturer Airbus achieved significant progress, while insurer Axa, construction materials company LafargeHolcim and financial institution BNP Paribas slipped down the league table.

French Top 20 – Webranking by Comprend 2016-2017

Rank Company Score
1 Vinci 66.0
2 Michelin 59.4
3 Arkema 55.4
4 Sanofi 51.6
5 Airbus 51.5
5 Axa 51.5
7 BNP Paribas 51.3
8 Orange 49.7
9 L'Oréal 49.6
10 LafargeHolcim 48.2
11 Schneider Electric 48.0
12 Air Liquide 47.6
13 Total 47.0
14 Renault 46.0
15 Rexel 45.4
16 Societe Generale 44.9
17 Engie 44.3
18 Safran 43.6
19 Atos 43.5
20 Legrand 43.2

See all French results

Commenting on his company’s outstanding performance this year, Philippe Drevard, Corporate communications at Vinci, said:

"We are proud to achieve this level of results this year. We work constantly to improve reactivity regarding up to date information and accessibility of our website."

Commenting on this year’s overall French results, Miguel Cruz de Oliveira, Director – France, Spain and Portugal at Comprend, said:

"The development path of French corporate websites diverged substantially this year. In average terms, company introduction and financial reporting performed best but key subjects such as investor relations, corporate governance and CSR faltered considerably. Crucial access tools such as website responsiveness and mobile loading speed also need increased attention from communications departments if companies are to reach out effectively to their audiences."

 

For further information, please contact Miguel Cruz de Oliveira, Director - France, Spain and Portugal, on +351 919 935 833 or miguel.cruz.de.oliveira@comprend.com.

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