Our esteemed columnist Don Spetner addresses "optics" in this month’s issue. He once pitched an executive from Wells Fargo for a speaking spot at a sports league client event only to be told it would not look good as Bank of America was a main sponsor. Fair point; bad optics; move on.
Ironically, Wells Fargo had an optics issue of its own last month when branch employee Tyrel Oates emailed CEO John Stumpf asking for a $10,000 raise for himself and his colleagues, CC’ing 200,000 of them in the process.
Oates noted that Stumpf – a man from humble beginnings himself – took home $19 million in 2013. It was a cheeky move, and slightly incredible in its scale. As with many things these days, the letter found its way onto Reddit. Wells Fargo responded with a statement saying its compensation was "market competitive" and it "values and supports team members."
At a town hall meeting, Stumpf alluded to the subject and reaffirmed that the bank’s pay levels were competitive, without specifically mentioning Oates.
Wells Fargo was in a difficult situation, pretty much no-win, but somehow the optics still seemed off.
Optics matter and they are of particular interest this month as PRWeek names our Best Places to Work 2014. In fact, Wells Fargo was an in-house honoree last year.
But it’s more than optics and more than compensation. To attract and retain the best people in an industry as competitive as PR, you have to create collaborative working environments, team building, a work-life balance, corporate citizenship, and sustainability.
Our congratulations go out to those in-house teams, and small, midsize, and large agencies that hit those marks and were honored this year. They went beyond the optics.