Embargoed until 11:59pm on 30th March 2018

“North and South Korea Surge in the World’s Visibility Ranking, followed by Russia and China - as the Islamic State Fades from View”

International PR and Brand Consultancy WorldPR Publishes its Global Leadership Ranking 2018©

WorldPR Global Leadership Ranking 2018© is a biennial data analysis based on more than 12,000 statistical calculations that measure the level of public recognition of 193 sovereign states and 14 autonomous financial zones across six different Indices. 

The 2018 Ranking reveals that:-

  • North Korea has climbed sharply in terms of global visibility, rising 38 places on the Western Perception Index (past 12 months) as tensions with the United States and South Korea have placed the country in the international spotlight on a daily basis.   This rise explains why the Ranking’s focus on salience, irrespective of whether a country's brand image is positive or negative, provides a truer measure of its international visibility.  Meanwhile, South Korea has risen 17 places on the Western Perception Index (past 12 months).  The manner in which the South Korean government has successfully exploited the heightened regional tensions to bring about a breakthrough in the standoff between North Korea and the United States is a good example of a country using its increased international salience to achieve positive policy goals.


  • Russia has risen two places on the Western Perception Index (past 12 months) as its alleged interference in the 2016 US presidential election and the resulting public enquiries in the US continue to make headlines all over the world.  Meanwhile, the continuing impact of the “Trump Effect” has helped the United States rise four places to top the Historical Footprint index - ahead of India, Canada and France.


  • The United Kingdom has surged from rock-bottom to 14th place in its 28-member EU trade group, while dropping down the Major Trading Partners Index and Investor Perception Index (43 and 44 places respectively) - amid jitters over the Brexit negotiations and widespread media debate about the future of UK-EU trading relations.


  • China’s growing global status and its “Belt and Road Initiative” has seen it rise two places to take first place in the Western Perception Index (cumulative).  The high level of international attention focused on China’s BRI overseas investment strategy is further evidenced by the fact that the 72 countries involved, led by China, score well above the median on all metrics for which there is comprehensive data.


  • Zimbabwe has risen five places in the Western Perception Index (cumulative) and 37 places over the past 12 months, following the resignation of Robert Mugabe after thirty years at the helm of the repressive Zimbabwean regime.


WorldPR Founder and CEO Patrick Robertson said today:

"These results demonstrate why countries need to establish a convincing international footprint in order to convert international attention into positive recognition.  Our Ranking is an invaluable tool to help government decision-makers convert low salience or suboptimal country images into a positive and widely recognised brand."


Head of Research Dr. Debra Buchholtz, the Oxford-based academic and since 2013 leader of the GLR research programme, added:

"We believe our unique approach offers a more accurate and objective understanding of a country's global brand image than any upfront assessment of whether that image is 'positive' or 'negative'. Such determinations are by definition subjective and frequently lead to simplistic or predictable results, whereas our findings allow strategists to accurately assess the strengths and weaknesses of their country's brand and better understand its internet presence."

Note to Editors:

For further information concerning results and method or for media interviews, please contact:

Dr. Debra Buchholtz, Consultant Head of Research, on +44 7548 215278 (

  • Click here to access the WorldPR Global Leadership Ranking 2018©, or click here to read the full Report.
  • Click here to join the debate on Facebook.
  • Click here to read about the methodology adopted by the academic research team.
  • Click here to visit the homepage of WorldPR S.A.


GLR in the Media:

“The WorldPR Global Leadership Ranking 2015 placed ISIS higher than the Vatican for its international brand recognition.”

Mail Online

“The terrorist group has managed to achieve greater prominence than the Vatican, according to a global survey of the brand recognition of countries and organisations.  […] The rankings are based in part on the number of Google hits, positive and negative, that each entrant garnered in 16 Western countries over a 12- month period.”

The Sunday Times

“The leadership ranking, developed by WorldPR, is based on research and provides a snapshot of where 193 countries and 18 autonomous territories stand on their “visibility or conspicuousness on the world stage.”

The Courier Mail

“According to a report in this year's WorldPR Global Leadership Ranking, the militant group's brand is more globally recognized than the Vatican (you know, that 2,000 year old epicentre of the Roman Catholic Church). In a count including 212 entities entered into Google searches in the last 12 months, the count tallies the number of Internet hits — positive and negative — coming from 16 Western countries.”

MSN News

“This new study shows the appalling success that Islamic State has had in enhancing its international profile, especially among potential recruits, through its policy of highly-publicised torture and killing.’ — Dr. Andrew Roberts, Visiting Professor at the War Studies Department, King's College London”

The Seoul Times

“ISIL continues to […] increase its brand recognition, which according to the WorldPR Global Leadership Ranking 2015 is higher than the Vatican.”

World Tribune