In the banking arena there are few better than Bank of America, and JPMorgan Chase. How do they do PR?
Both banks suffered PR nightmares involving run-ins with the government in the past and received fines ranging in the billions. Both instances involved the mortgage crisis and other questionable activities that occurred during the financial crisis of 2008.
The Importance of Good Customer Relationships
Between 2012 and 2014, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) provided a service where consumers could lodge complaints against various financial institutions. The numbers proved that bigger is not always better as Bank of America ranked as the most hated bank, with JP Morgan Chase coming in third place. While public relations could help to counter this, the fact remains that banks must rely on customer service in order to build their brand image.
For instance, Bank of America features higher fees than average, and fewer ATM’s per state than other banks. Chase also falls victim to criticism in this area by having higher checking account rates than other banks, and also having fewer ATM’s per state than average.
Employing Social Media
However, Chase makes up for this by employing PR strategies that include engaging with current and prospective bankers through social media. While Bank of America beats out Chase by over 100,000 on followers, Chase gets more likes. Chase received 18,700 likes compared to less than 1600 for Bank of America. This shows a higher engagement for Chase followers, despite the smaller number.
One reason for this relates to the fact that Chase spends more resources on creating engaging content. Though the company joined Twitter a year after Bank of America, it tweets about three times as often. This helps the brand’s visibility and also increases the chances of engaging with followers.
On Facebook, the results are practically the same. In spite of earning the title as the bigger bank, Bank of America gained only 2.3 million likes, while Chase boasts 3.9 million. This once again attests to Chase’s commitment to post more often and to engage followers.
Playing the Unexpected Role
Interestingly, in 2013, Bank of America’s failure to maintain favor in the market compelled it to downplay its size and strengths. According to Ad Age, at the time, “Meredith Verdone, Bank of America’s head of brand marketing, said in an interview that the new approach represents the bank trying to display some ‘humility’ for a change.”
She went a step further to add that Bank of America is only “a facilitator… It’s not about us. We need to focus on customer needs first and we know our place. We know we’re not the center of your life, but we will connect you to what it is.” Interpublic Group of Cos created the campaign. The bank also continues to work with Hill Holliday on creative projects geared towards the wealth management group.
This shift helped the company to regain consumers’ trust and enabled it to remain a formidable competitor against Chase. In fact, Bank of America continually shifts its relationships with agencies and its marketing campaigns to revamp its image.
Consistency and Stable PR Relationships
Chase uses a more stable and consistent approach to public relations, and has partnered with Dentsu’s McGarryBowen in the U.S. for roughly a decade. Even so, the bank knows the importance of innovation and fresh changes. Thus, it also recently added ROAR to its PR portfolio. The Publicis Groupe created ROAR to cater to Chase’s needs, but the shop now solicits other clients. ROAR specializes in creating digital ads for the company.
Spending on PR and Advertising
Both banks spend a reasonably large amount of money on public relations and advertising. Chase spends only $1.9 billion on ads, and Bank of America spends roughly the same at $2 million per year, according to Reuters.
Both banks associate their brands with good causes in order to paint the picture of a more socially responsible company. For example, Bank of America partners with RED to help fight the war against HIV/AIDS in the Third World. The company’s commitment to the cause even involved a total redesign of the logo, and a change of the colors from those on the American flag to plain red.
Chase tends to support causes closer to home. For instance, the company invested $100 million in developing the Chicago area. In the past, Chase also provided over $2 million dollars to help inner-city schools in Chicago to battle security issues by installing cameras on the property.
While Bank of America and Chase use different methods of appealing to people to bank with them, and even like them, there also exist many similarities in their strategies. Both banks understand the importance of engaging customers on social media, spending on advertising, outsourcing help to creative PR experts, and becoming involved in social causes.
Both are very strong brands and work hard at PR.