Friday, March 26, 2010

PR Isn't Just for Health Care: It's for Bankers too!

The new health care bill isn't the only one getting some public relations love these days. Wall Street is also about to start a public relations campaign, and it seems it is much-needed. A new Bloomberg National Poll found that almost two thirds of Americans said they have an unfavorable opinion of business executives. According to the article, Wall Street is undertaking an "image-improvement campaign aimed at showing the financial industry as trustworthy and a positive force after more than a year of being chastised in Washington."

The campaign is set to begin as the mid-term election season gears up, and is led by APCO Worldwide, Luntz Maslansky Strategic Research and advertising agency DDB (owned by Omnicom Group Inc.).

"The financial services industry is dedicated to earning back the trust of the American people, and is engaging in a comprehensive effort to communicate directly with them," says the board of the Financial Services Roundtable.

Scott Talbott, chief lobbyist for the Roundtable says "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."

Although the specific tactics of the campaign have not been finalized, it is planned to initially focus on setting up a Web site and using various forms of social media such as Twitter and Facebook.

When I read this article on Bloomberg yesterday I thought "What in the world are they going to talk about on Facebook or Twitter?" As someone who is interested in pursuing a career in Investor Relations I was intrigued by the thought of the financial services industry using new media to communicate. Ironically enough, when I opened my "PR Daily Newsfeed" e-mail today I saw a post about a social media conference for financial communicators.

According to the site, attendees will learn the following:

  • Build a community of evangelists and promote your organization to a broader online audience
  • Monitor conversations about your organizations and react quickly during a crisis
  • Pitch financial journalists and and bloggers using Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn
  • Create "YouTube-like" videos, blogs and podcasts to engage your employees and turn them into your best brand ambassadors
  • Navigate the legal issues surrounding online liability, content control and copyrights - and be aware of all the new regulatory requirements for using social media in your organization

As I have found in my research on investor relations (IR), one of the main priorities for IR professionals is to disseminate financial information about their organization timely and fairly. One investor should not have access to financial information before another. Mass media and investor relations Web sites are typically their main tools for this, but adding social media to the kit (if done correctly) can only help improve the efficiency of financial communicators.

Do you agree?

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