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A post relating to this item from Finextra:

Citi hits back over office refurbishment claims

20 March 2009  |  3322 views  |  0
In response to numerous misleading media reports regarding the office consolidation at Citi's global headquarters at 399 Park Avenue, Citi issued the following points of clarification:

And Now the Rest of the Story

20 March 2009  |  4294 views  |  1

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 levels."

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! 

TagsRisk & regulationWholesale banking

Comments: (2)

Elton Cane
Elton Cane - writer & tech geek - Brisbane | 20 March, 2009, 15:59

I've heard of technology vendors struggling to get their customers to speak to the press about IT implementations that have cut costs and increased efficiencies for the bank - just they type of story you would expect them to be wanting to put out.

But a lot of banks just don't want to be in the press at all. Even if it's for a positive story, the feeling is that if they agree to speak to a journalist about a nice fluffy press release that they will actually find themselves facing much tougher questions from the journalist when they get bored with the nice story and want to delve into other more controversial matters.

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A Finextra member
A Finextra member | 23 March, 2009, 15:18


I understand the reluctance to speak to the media for fear of opening up an avalanche of off-topic questions.  However,  there are other ways for banks to get a positive story out to the public--including blogs, press releases, podcasts, advertorials, etc. These tactics may not generate as much interest or make it on the evening news but they will have an impact. 


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