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
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
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.