From the Editor - City firms need to place trust in comms

For too long the financial markets have been impenetrable to most of us. Even top financial journalists privately admit that much goes on in the Square Mile that they don't know and much that they don't understand.

Danny Rogers
Danny Rogers

Let's be honest - we are confused by the concepts of derivatives and Libor, but when we look up at the gleaming towers of One Canada Square or 30 St Mary Axe, when we see and hear the confidence of the bankers who inhabit them, we feel reassured.

Indeed, Edelman's most recent Trust Barometer, at the beginning of this year, showed public trust in big business had increased significantly since the dark days of the Enron/Andersen Consulting crisis. It will be interesting to see how this has changed come the New Year.

In good economic times we have tended to leave the financial world unscrutinised. We might raise an eyebrow when bankers buy the rounds of Krug in January, but we suspect this is because they have the lubricant of the economy under control.

This is what financial institutions have wanted, indeed demanded. Analysis in this issue of PRWeek shows how comms professionals have long been excluded from the top table of such companies.

And yet this week there was nowhere to hide. Finance stories led every bulletin. Comms staff at some banks will gain a decade's worth of experience in a month.

But unfortunately it was too late. When senior managers and comms staff tried to reassure stakeholders it smacked of panic.

There has been little dialogue, so there was little trust left in the reputation bank. They had told us that things were great; that the Government and the media should back off. Now they are squealing for the same opinion formers to back them. Even to bail them out.

There is probably not much senior communicators could have done short-term to prevent some of the crises we are seeing.

But there is now much that can be achieved in terms of building long-term dialogue and, hopefully, real trust.

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