Banks untrusted or at least trusted less: Should they get used to it?

February 22, 2010 at 10:27 pm (Public Relations) (, , , , , )

It seems like the recession pulled down bank reputation a big deal. Of course this is no surprise. Lots of people are in financial difficulty not to mention  the banks themselves.

But as far as reputation what can PR people do in this sector?

Well, in isolation efforts probably won’t succeed. PR need to be a part of a larger trust regaining plan. Banks changing practices, improving services and hoping that time will dim memories of the credit crunch in people fast.

Meanwhile PR is expected to focus on CSR to show banks do care about community, to improve relations.  This is the perfect time to do some corporate responsibility programs provided these gain visibility in the media and in reports.

I looked into Google to see what comes up. It seems only Deutsche Bank  has a very clearly visible (and perhaps a well search engine optimized) CSR program.

They focus on Education, Art and Social Investment.  Therefore it seems like a well rounded program. It offers something for everyone or at least many people.
These programs take place in the U.K..

I  think CSR won’t fix reputation by itself. It would be naive to assume that.  what the media are interested in is if banks rise or fall. Deutsche Bank according to this recent article seems to rise. This of course can also benefit public trust. It is more risky though. Bonuses  might outrage some people. Especially those who are in debt and feel mistreated by banks.

From a PR perspective this does seem to be the best plan. Emphasize good news, have CSR available and hope to be lucky not get any bad news connected to your name.

Will this work to gain public trust? Will different banks come up with different plans?
We will see…

For more info go to:

Deutsche Bank CSR

High street banks face trust crisis, Reputation Survey shows

Deutsche Bank staff to win 30% pay rises

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CSR or window dressing?

February 15, 2010 at 11:45 pm (Public Relations) (, , )

The debate was very interesting. There are so many good examples of CSR (corporate social responsibility) out there.  If it’s done right, it is undoubtedly useful.
So I had a difficult time looking for proof that CSR is wrong or can go wrong.
During my debate I was aiming at drawing attention to the mismatches between CSR programs and the companies that do them. This is just a matter of looking at the CSR program from the outside. It is probably common sense that a polluting industry should be low key about environmental issues unless they are willing to make a real change which would cost them a lot and require fundamental steps. This came to me from the Honda example which is also mentioned in the article linked here.
Of course the HSBC carbon emissions example shows that aligning with a cause that has little do to with them, seems like a safe option but it can backfire just as easily. Especially in this economic climate with the recession going on and many people are suffering from the credit crunch. I do think that climate change needs to be addressed, but there  needs to be balance between imminent problems and more long term ones.
Essentially environmental initiatives can only be funded in a (at least) stable economic status. So in a sense by solving the more urgent problem it can give a better chance at solving the long term one.

It is an interesting article about when CSR goes badly wrong:

Companies Who Care? Jess Worth New Internationalist

The other side, who argued that CSR is useful and honest brought up examples of companies essentially lifting up entire communities through their program. They bring infrastructure, education and jobs to people. It is a very good start but then the people need to take over, build on it.

CSR is only as good, as much honesty, motivation and resources are put into them. By resources I don’t necessarily mean money, but – where appropriate- by encouraging employees to volunteer some of their time to good causes.  It not just brings the cause close to them on a personal level, but it is great team building (and great internal PR) opportunity. During one of my internships my colleagues took me along to some of these volunteering programs. The opportunities are endless, from helping rebuild a bird wildlife education center in the middle of the countryside, or doing huge concerts to visiting the elderly homes or ill children for the day.

CSR has so many potentials to make real difference in a small way definitely and not turn into just window dressing.

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