After a week that saw a second government bail-out, share price plunges and Gordon Brown admonishing some bankers for ‘irresponsibility’, the British Banking Association has bemoaned ‘inexperienced’ press reporting.
The BBA’s executive communications director, Lesley McLeod, said: ‘The story has moved away from financial journalists either because newspapers do not have the staff any longer or because it is dealt with on the news pages. Clearly some of these journalists do not have an understanding of the issues.’
‘A lot of these people are now either inexperienced or they’re taking [information] directly from PA.’
One senior source in financial comms said the picture had been confused by the Government taking stakes in the banks: ‘Most of the Treasury press operation is concerned with political briefing. They are financially illiterate, as are political journalists with whom they are discussing the issues.’
Many financial PROs privately acknowledge comms failures. However, government intervention has meant it is unclear whether the Government, its UK Financial Investments vehicle or the banks themselves should drive any comms fightback.
Banks now tread a tightrope when communicating to either shareholders or taxpayers – as shown this week when the Government’s determination to take a firm grip caused Lloyds shares to drop over fears the Government would nationalise the banks.
The new Lloyds Banking Group, from the merger of Lloyds and HBOS, this week handed its top comms role to ex-HBOS PR director Shane O’Riordain. Former Lloyds comms director Mark Lidiard has left the bank.
Headlines this week
21 January ‘Fury as Northern Rock’s 4,000 workers get £8.8m in bonuses for paying back OUR money’ – Daily Mail
21 January ‘We have every right to be angry with the bankers’ – The Daily Telegraph
21 January ‘Gordon Brown must nationalise the banks’ – Daily Mirror
20 January ‘Crash point’ –The Sun
20 January ‘RBS goes from toxic to radioactive’ –The Times