And the winners are ...

The all new Bowen Craggs Index of Online Excellence is out, and you can see the results on our website. In brief, Nestlé is way out ahead - it was second last year but has held its score while others around it - notably Shell - have had somewhat stumbly relaunches. Bayer is second, Eni third. 

To see the full results, see the interactive table on our site. It can be reconfigured so you can see who is doing best in each of our eight metrics.

If you are lucky enough to subscribe to our database, you can see a lot more detail, though as we have been feeding the new material into the database for months, you probably know about it already.

Constant updating is one of many important changes we have made. The underlying developments have been in the database, but the Index has changed as a result: most notably, we now look at the 200 biggest companies in the world, more than twice as many as before, so the pool of best practice is much deeper. The Index is also a brilliant way of attracting much-deserved praise to the teams that are doing the most fabulous jobs. Forbes has already helped, us, with this piece just published.

The most obvious superficial change is the new name. The Index is no longer linked to the Financial Times. We had an excellent eight-year run with the FT, as the FT Bowen Craggs Index of Corporate Website Effectiveness, but it's the right time to go it alone. We are after all always being told by the online comms world that our Index is the gold standard.

A subtler shift in the name is that we now say 'online' instead of 'web'. That is to reflect the increasing importance of social media and other channels. We have included them in our analysis ever since they first appeared, but as we note in our overview piece they have finally (belatedly) become a core part of the corporate communications effort. 

To learn all about the Index, see these pages on our site

Intro and guide to our coverage

An overview piece about the main trends (by me)

Interactive results table

Lessons from the top three

New entrants (We look at a much bigger pool than before, so some companies have never featured)

FAQ and Methodology

All the underlying analysis is available to database subscribers. Learn more about that here.


Shell hides its arguments

Shell has been relatively lucky from a PR point of view in Nigeria - it gets criticised regularly, but there is nothing like the publicity that would engorge it if it had similar problems in the US or Europe. But court cases have a habit of bringing these things into the open, and a new one - brought in London on behalf of local communities - again raises the question of who is responsible for cleaning up the oil spills that dog onshore production.

I have no idea of the rights and wrong, and we will be able to read the arguments as they they are played out in the High Court. But I am surprised that the one place people will go to find out Shell's line - its corporate website - has become so silent on the issue. It has recently been relaunched. The previous site had a good section on Nigeria, leading through to briefing notes and other material on its country site, but the only links to these I could find on are here: Investors > Environmental, social and governance > Environmental and social > Key SRI topics. If it has said 'How can we bury this most effectively?', it could hardly have done better.

What I find most odd is that the Nigeria site provides data that appears to support Shell's main argument - that the great majority of oil spilled comes from theft and sabotage, so it can hardly be expected to be responsible for cleaning that up. Oil spill data, kept admirably up to date, makes the point. Even more admirably, this is highlighted in the tag cloud that still adorns the Nigeria home page. 

As this is an international story, why is Shell not putting its case to a global audience on its global site? The court case will make sure people know about it anyway - why hide your defence? As I have so often, I'd point to the Ask Nestlé section as a model showing how tricky issues, big or small, can be handled in a sophisticated way.

David Bowen