The leaders of the financial world have gathered together, discussed and decided it was finally time to worry about their image and start having conversations with those they want as customers. The Financial Services Roundtable, a group representing 150 of the largest institutions in the financial industry, with members such as JP Morgan Chase or Citigrup, decided the time for action was now. It took big banks and insurance companies almost two years from the first signs of crisis and economic collapse to stop relying on lobbying alone and finally call PR hot shots to help out with their shattered image. But better later than never, even if they only have some big names and an idea about regaining customer trust, but completely lack the plan and specific goals they’d like to reach.
Trying to catch the trendy wave of being online and using social media, they’ve hired a PR company, APCO Worldwide, a research company, Luntz Maslansky Strategic Research, and an advertising agency, DDB. This marketing and public relations dream team is supposed to help them reach their customers and rebuild trust, fight the Congress, home of many of their critics and the Obama administration, that is ready for a full on war with the financial world.
When it comes to customers, before gaining their trust, their anger over bailouts needs to be quenched first, while also convincing them that banks and insurance companies are not responsible for the crisis. That’s a hard task for any team of specialists! According to Roundtable representatives, they will have to start working on it with a website, a Twitter account and a Facebook page. At least for starters!
While they haven’t been openly running a PR campaign, the banking and insurance industries have invested dizzying amounts in lobbying and campaign contributions: 500 million dollars since the beginning of 2009, says the Center for Responsive Politics.
The chosen moment to act? Just in time for a mid-term election season in the UK during which Wall Street and the financial industry will be the preferred targets of campaigning politicians! Great moment to take on the entire country, it almost makes me wonder if they want to run for something.
Analyzing their first actions, I’d say they first need to shape up their statements, brush them up a little and make them sound less like a fast speech written 5 minutes before speaking to the media. Here’s what Scott Talbott, chief lobbyist for the Roundtable had to say:
„Our focus is two things — one, to have a conversation with our customers and two, to demonstrate the positive benefits the industry brings to the economy and consumers’ lives.”
I’d really like to know which the negative benefits are. Can anyone explain? They do seem quite prepared to change the public’s opinions:
„A new Bloomberg National Poll found that almost two-thirds of Americans said they have an unfavorable opinion of business executives, a rating that rivals the public’s disdain for Congress, which was viewed with disfavor by 67 percent of respondents.”
This will indeed be an interesting PR endeavor to watch! It will definitely make for a fun case study.And believe us, we can’t wait to hand out yet another PR Goof Award!