The online presence of corporations has become increasingly important in the digital age, not only in terms of where corporations are listed on the Internet, but also how they are portrayed online. In the recent Business & Society paper, entitled “The Analysis of Self-Presentation of Fortune 500 Corporations in Corporate Web Sites,” authors Jongmin Park, Hyunmin Lee, and Hyehyun Hong describe what patterns emerge from an analysis of top corporation websites. The abstract for the paper:
In the digital age, many corporations communicate with their publics via online channels. Among many channels, a corporation’s official Web site is often used for informing publics of its performance and other corporate-related information and for shaping a positive corporate image. This study quantitatively analyzed corporate Web sites, particularly the “About us” Web pages of Fortune 500 corporations based on symbolic convergence theory (SCT), which describes the formation of symbolic reality and the shared meaning of that symbolic reality among the public. A content analysis revealed that economic corporate management was the dominant rhetorical vision, and the fantasy, in the context of SCT, of being a superior company was emphasized by the 500 examined corporations. Such symbolic reality was constructed using corresponding structural tools of Web content, such as dramatis personae, plot line, and scene. In addition, the rhetorical vision and fantasy themes created by the Web sites turned out to be contingent on business classifications (retailer/distributor, manufacturers, and financial/informational/recreational services). Companies that pursued other types of fantasy themes (such as admirable, futuristic, and competent/stable) and rhetorical visions (such as socially responsible corporate management) were also identified. Some suggestions for corporate communicators are provided based on the results of this analysis.
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