Banking industry lashes out at negative media coverage

The chief spokesperson for the increasingly maligned banking profession has hit back accusing some national journalists of failing to understand the economic crisis.

Media briefing The Government unveils its latest rescue package
Media briefing The Government unveils its latest rescue package

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

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