Given the amount of negative press swirling around the financial services industry--and in particular around the banking segment of the industry, it would be great if some of the banks who are not at the center of the storm would step up to the plate and
be a little (or even a lot) more visible. The results of a
Nielsen IAG survey released yesterday showed that consumer confidence in banks and other financial institutions is dramatically decreased because of negative press and an 'out of sight/out of mind' advertising spend. According to Richard Khaleel, executive
vice president of Nielsen IAG's financial practice. "The current economic climate makes it more important than ever for financial institutions to bolster confidence among their clients, and this study clearly demonstrates the link between advertising and confidence
Right now, it can be especially tempting for banks and banking executive to run and hide every time a reporter lands on their front door. So I applaud Citi for responding and responding quickly to the media reports about their office refurbishment claims.
It may not be the story that they wanted to have in headlines today but sometimes you have to go where the media takes you.
It seems hard to believe that it was only yesterday that the story of Citi's proposal to spend $10 million on new executive offices broke. When I first saw the article in the
NY Times, I can truthfully say it barely registered. But then last night, I was watching MSNBC's Keith Olbermann's Countdown and like most viewers heard his
fiery condemnation of Citi for wasting $10 million of U.S. taxpayer dollars on Vikram Pandit's office redecoration and I started to pay a little bit more attention to the story. Like most people, I pay more attention to the media when a story gets repeated
but unlike a lot of people, I want to get my information from more than one source.
After all, the media is not infallible particularly not in this age of 24/7 news coverage and sometimes they miss the details in their quest for the headline. And just like bad boys are more exciting...for many of us negative stories are more interesting.
But just because we find the negative more compelling it doesn't mean that we don't want to hear some good news too. Or as Paul Harvey would say, “and." According to the same Nielsen survey "some 44% of people surveyed by Nielsen said reading positive stories
about a firm would help; 25% said they would be encouraged if they saw regular advertising by an institution."
I'm not suggesting that the industry sugarcoat the hard facts--sugarcoating things is a big part of what created this mess--but rather that the banks who are doing the right things "Stand up and Say So." If you're investing in new technology to increase
visibility--say so! If you're increasing efficiency so that you can improve access to information--say so! If you're spending money on green initiatives to reduce your carbon footprint--say so! If you're doing anything good and honest and right--Say Something!