Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Forbes vs. Fortune: Most Powerful Women Edition

Even as the dynamics of print publishing have changed dramatically since I last about Forbes vs Fortune in 2007 ("The difference between Forbes & Fortune"), the two magazines seem to continue to compete primarily with each other, ignoring any online competitors.

One thing for certain: the only people outside of Fortune who read Fortune as closely as PR people do are the editors and reporters at Forbes. The same is true of Forbes, too. (I vividly remember talking with a Forbes reporter who was as well informed as I was about how BusinessWeek and Fortune had covered a client of mine. And that reporter's knowledge was based partly on interest in my client and mostly due to how Fortune was covering the sector.)

Both Forbes and Fortune have redesigned their print publications; Forbes has undergone a more comprehensive makeover while Fortune has added some accessories.

So it's interesting -- and no coincidence, really -- to see that Fortune ran its "FORTUNE's annual ranking of America's leading businesswomen) in its Oct. 18th issue while Forbes ran its The World's 100 Most Powerful Women in its Oct. 25th issue.

The differences in the lists and their methodologies tell us a lot about the two magazines.

It goes beyond the fact that Forbes offers twice the number of powerful women than Fortune. And that both lists contain many of the same women, including Oprah (No. 3 in Forbes and No. 6 in Fortune), Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi (No. 6 in Forbes, No. 6 in Fortune). Wellpoint CEO Angela Braly (No. 12 in Forbes, No. 4 in Fortune), Yahoo CEO Carol Bratz (No. 42 in Forbes, No. 6 in Fortune), and BofA Merrill Lynch's Sallie Krawcheck (No. 44 in Forbes, No. 24 in Fortune).

  • Forbes and Fortune agreed on one women: both ranked Kraft CEO Irene Rosenfeld as No. 2. The other women who appeared on both lists were ranked at vastly different levels: Avon CEO Andrea Jung was No. 47 in Forbes but No. 5 in Fortune; Fidelity's Abigail Johnson was No. 59 according to Forbes, but No. 21 in Fortune; Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg was ranked No. 66 by Forbes but reached No. 16 in Fortune.
  • The Forbes list includes some women from outside the US like Gail Kelly, CEO of Wespac in Australia. The Fortune 50 list is comprised entirely of Americans. That said, Fortune also includes its global list, the International 50.
  • The Forbes list also includes politicians while Fortune lists "Washington's power players," and both lists include Hilary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, SEC's Mary Schapiro, and Justices Elena Kagan and Sonja Sotomayor. Interestingly, Fortune did not include Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (but Forbes did) and Forbes included Michelle Obama at No. 1 while Fortune did not her at all.
  • Forbes includes celebrities while Fortune is more serious, and does not. Thus Forbes ranked Lady Gaga at No. 7; Beyonce at No. 9 (but includes her last name (Knowles) for its readers who may not be familiar with her work; Ellen DeGeneres (No. 10); Angelina Jolie (No. 21, and, surprisingly, did not include a photo); Madonna (No. 29 and no photo), Chelsea Handler (No. 33 -- I like her show but I still don't know how she made this list); Sarah Jessica Parker (No. 45); Suze Orman (No. 61), Rachel Ray (No. 78), and Martha Stewart (No. 99).
  • Forbes, which loves celebrities, also listed models: Carla Bruni-Sarkozy (No. 35 and also the First Lady of France, and instead of a photo of her, there was a photo of the Eiffel Tower); Heidi Klum (No. 39); and Gisele Brundchen (No. 72). Forbes also ranked designers Tory Birch (No. 88), Vera Wang (No. 91) and Donna Karan (No. 96) as well as news anchors and editors Katie Couric, (No. 22), Tina Brown (No. 34), Meredith Vieira (No. 40), Diane Sawyer (No. 46), Rachel Maddow (No. 50), and Christine Amanpour (No. 73).
  • Forbes also ranked female athletes including Serena Williams (No. 55) Venus Williams (No. 60 and Danica Patrick (No. 93).
  • Forbes also listed a number of politicians including those named above as well as Sarah Palin (No. 16), Meg Whitman (No. 47), Carly Fiorina (No. 51), and Maria Shriver (No. 53). I suspect that, if written after the midterm elections, Meg and Carly would not make the list.
  • Forbes also includes royalty, including Queen Elizabeth (but not the richer, commoner JK Rowling).
The main criteria for Forbes was dollar amount, including company revenue, and "buzz" factor, defined as the number of Factiva hits, Google hits, Facebook fans, Twitter followers, and radio and TV appearances over the past 12 months.

The main criteria for Fortune "is four-fold: the size and importance of the woman's business in the global economy, the health and direction of the business, the arc of the woman's career, and social and cultural influence." According to a blog article by longtime Fortune reporter, Patricia Sellers, the pattern for selection for Fortune appeared to be that "the consumer packaged-goods industry is welcoming to top-level women."

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