Barclays’ Barber warns PR of dangers of the internet

The internet’s power to magnify attacks on a company’s reputation has to be taken very seriously, Paul Barber, the communications chief at Barclays’ high street arm told the Reputation Management conference in Amsterdam last week.

The internet’s power to magnify attacks on a company’s reputation

has to be taken very seriously, Paul Barber, the communications chief at

Barclays’ high street arm told the Reputation Management conference in

Amsterdam last week.



Barber was speaking in the wake of a series of fierce attacks on the

bank. Barclays provoked criticism after a Government inquiry suggested

that along with other banks it was overcharging and stifling

competition.



Then it announced the closure of 171 regional branches and a share

option package which could see chief executive Matthew Barrett receiving

a pounds 30 million payout.



’The web has blown up a couple of crises recently to huge proportions

that I haven’t seen anywhere else during the whole of my career,’ said

Barber. ’The internet liberates the smallest of your detractors, it

gives them instant publishing access to the world. They can say what

they want, when they want and to whom they want.



’It takes 300 years to build a reputation, but you can destroy that

reputation in 30 seconds,’ he added.



In the wake of the branch closures and the announcement of Barrett’s

payout, Barclays has been the subject of sustained campaigns on the

web.



Sites such as Rip-off.co.uk, which claims to champion the consumer, has

called for boycotts of the bank and organised an e-mail campaign.



One site published the email address of John Varley, chief executive of

Barclays Retail Financial Services, the high street arm which was

responsible for the branch closures.



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