Billions of dollars in bailouts, widespread public mistrust and 10 years later, the economy is strong, but that doesn’t mean the financial industry should get too comfortable.
This summer’s Federal Reserve stress tests that established whether banks have enough capital to survive another financial crisis, came back with interesting results. Goldman Sachs reported different results than the Federal Reserve and issued an flimsy statement to explain the discrepancy.
Conversely, Wells Fargo, who sailed through the Fed’s test, has been running a campaign aimed at “Earning Back Your Trust”, in which the company acknowledges the fake account scandal and explains what they have done internally to correct the mistake since the incident two years ago.
These tests and trials almost force financial companies to be transparent. Almost. There’s no way for the public to know the whole truth, much like a decade ago. Economists are warning of a slow down in growth and experts are confirming an impending financial downturn.
Taking into consideration the history of the market crash and a look at federal, banking and consumer reactions to the crisis, financial services should consider The Three T’s for their PR strategy.
Truth—PR was born to manage crises situations. Honest communication between PR practitioners and your company limits misunderstandings. If the PR agency knows what is going on behind the curtain, everyone will be better prepared to respond quickly to a crisis—whether it’s your company on the chopping block or not.
Transparency—The financial crisis was bred from investments that looked desirable but were rotten at the core. But profits were good, so no one questioned the stability. Today, people are skeptical and can do their own research on how and what to invest in. Customers appreciate companies that list fees and services up front and don’t give them the run around.
Trust—Bailouts eroded public trust of both the government and financial institutions, leaving the impression that the government cared more about the banks than the unemployed and that no one was reprimanded. Despite how good services are, if customers lose trust in what a company is presenting, they will look elsewhere.
Truth within an organization and transparency with consumers will naturally build trust among your customers. No bank is too big to fail, and a PR strategy focused on The Three T’s should be a part of their recovery plan.