CMO Q&A: Anne Finucane, Bank of America

Nicole Zerillo speaks with Bank of America's Anne Finucane about the importance of PR in telling a complicated story

Nicole Zerillo speaks with Bank of America's (BoA) Anne Finucane about the importance of PR in telling a complicated story

At BoA, what is PR's role in the marketing mix?

Anne Finucane: We have a centralized marketing and communications, or marketing and corporate affairs, group. There's no one method or silver bullet in terms of communicating with our various constituencies. The best way to do it is to integrate what we're doing in communications, media relations, and [employee relations], with marketing and public policy. It's a formalized, integrated approach.

What can PR pros do to be taken seriously by CMOs?

Finucane: First of all, I take communications and PR extremely seriously. I would reverse the tables here. I think it's incumbent on any CMO to recognize
PR, communications, media relations, and crisis management. If you don't have the best communications professionals on your team you are at a real disadvantage.

This is a global marketplace. Twenty-four seven doesn't even begin to capture how we have to both aggressively go on the offense and defense, or be reactive as well as aggressive in our positioning.

For us, [it's important] having PR people and communications people right in the middle of that understanding of what the research is saying, party to the public policy issues that are going on, fully up to speed on where our businesses are, and what we're trying to do through marketing.

What key messages are you looking to get out?

Finucane: One, that we understand that people are worried. The concept of understanding and appreciating some of the concerns of the American public regarding the recession, and then specifically what are we doing in terms of lending products that can make life a little bit simpler.

We bought a company called Countrywide that had a number of issues. The first thing we wanted to communicate is we understand what the issues are. We are not in the subprime business. We are simplifying the lending procedures. That can't all be done in an ad.

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