The last week has been dominated by phone hacking news. It is clear that the public disapproves of the practices used and there is general support for the closure of the News of the World – from the YouGov poll for the Sunday Times; 73 per cent think it is never acceptable for journalists to break the law no matter how important the story whilst by a score of 56 per cent to 26 per cent they think News International was right to close the News of the World.
Not surprising figures - but can News International keep the damage confined to one brand? Looking at Sky on BrandIndex reveals mixed news. As the graph shows there has been a sharp decline in their Buzz score and a smaller fall in Index (a composite score of six key measures).
The Buzz decline started when News Corp got the go ahead to buy the remainder of BSkyB and accelerated as the News of the World phone hacking stories emerged so that by last Friday Buzz was as low as -18 (down from +4). Index was relatively unimpacted by the bid news but did drop from between +5 and +8 to -2 by Friday.
The better news though comes when comparing with brands that have had similar crises. In May-June of 2010 BP’s Buzz scores dropped from -10 to an incredible -73, with Index also declining from 7 to -15. By November it had recovered all the Buzz score and most of the Index.
Let’s not underestimate the problem – people don’t like what happened, they distrust News International and I have little doubt that News of the World would show similar numbers to BP.
The crisis has had an impact on perceptions of Sky, but BP would tell them it could be considerably worse, and there is a way back.