Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Trust & Bad Timing

I can't think of another movie that will be a victim of such horribly bad timing as Sony Pictures upcoming release, "The International" I'm sure when it was conceived the idea was brilliant: An all powerful global bank that will stop at nothing (even murder) to continue financing war and terror. Clearly a plot concocted long before the U.S. Government bailed out bank after bank after bank. How will moviegoers be able to suspend disbelief to believe that The International Bank of Business and Credit can muster hitmen around the globe at a moment's notice when real banks can't even tell us what assets they have on their balance sheets?

See the Trailer

The trailer for the movie is great and the real site for the fake bank is neat. It would be nice if real banks were as competent at banking as IBBC is at killing good guys and controlling global geopolitics. Seeing the trailer got me thinking about trust.

Edelman Public Relations recently released its 2009 Trust Barometer and it shows that people's trust in banks dropped from 69% to 36% last year. (Full disclosure: I have been a contract media trainer for Edelman since 2002. I usually do a couple of jobs for them a year.) You can read the report here. The dramatic drop in people's trust of banks is certainly justified. The news pouring out from the financial industry is one horror after another.

It is difficult to communicate effectively in a low-trust environment. So what can banks (or any organization that is under siege) do? Here are three quick tips:

1) Transparency rules
Be as ruthlessly open as possible. People can deal with bad news if it is delivered accurately, succinctly and timely. We also can sense when there is more to the story and we will try to find it. Which leads to the next item on the list:

2) Realize you do not control the information environment
There are too many ways for information to get out today. Policies that limit employees from talking to the media are as out-of-date as the three-martini lunch. Those that try to control information are viewed with suspicion. Get your story out in as many venues as possible. That includes social media venues like Facebook, Twitter and others.

3) Keep communicating

The worst thing an organization can do is to stop communicating. In a crisis like this, the urge to shelter until the storm clears is powerful. Edelman's Trust Barometer shows that communication is as central to reputation as product quality. Keep getting the word out. Get it out to your employees, your investors, get it out to everyone.

There's no quick fix when it comes to repairing a damaged reputation. You have to fix the problems one at a time and let people know what you're doing every step of the way.
Bill Salvin

No comments:

Post a Comment