Scott McKenzie's Collective Conversation Blog » reputation http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/scottmckenzie Fri, 01 Jun 2012 10:48:08 +0000 http://wordpress.org/?v=2.9.2 en hourly 1 It’s the brand… Stupid http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/scottmckenzie/2011/05/25/its-the-brand-stupid/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/scottmckenzie/2011/05/25/its-the-brand-stupid/#comments Wed, 25 May 2011 12:37:05 +0000 Scott McKenzie http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/scottmckenzie/?p=375

I despair I really do. Today’s news on Bank of Scotland’s handling of complaints is the latest in a long line of self-inflicted injuries by the Banking sector.

I spent 10 years working in Banking and here at H&K we work with a number of Financial Services companies manage their reputation, engage their employees and deal with issues and crises.

And there have been a few. We have witnessed banks stumble from one self-inflicted PR disaster to another. From the nadir of the economic crisis to unjustifiable overdraft charges and the shambles of Payment Protection Insurance.

What is so difficult to understand? The brand really does matter. And frankly it doesn’t matter how fluffy and people-centric your advertsising is (stand up NatWest)… if you treat your customers with such wanton disregard your brand will be in tatters.

Yes balance sheets are important. But so is trust. So is reputation. The Banks really need to up their game on customer service, on handling complaints on having greater transparency on pricing.

The new UK regulatory regime likely to be far more punitive when banks get it wrong. Rightly so. But we all have a role to play.

In his wonderful book “Whoops: Why everyone owes everyone and no one can pay…”,  John Lanchester brilliantly explains how banks make their money in a wonderfully simple and clear way. We should demand the same transparency. The banks have a right to make (lots of) money. But they should be doing it the right way. And we all have a duty to hold them to account.

BTW – if you are interested in how employees can help brands really work you should come along to our event on the 15 June. It will be a panel discussion with great speakers from Bacardi, Aviva and British Gas. One you should not miss!

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What is it we do again…? http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/scottmckenzie/2011/03/24/what-is-it-we-do-again/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/scottmckenzie/2011/03/24/what-is-it-we-do-again/#comments Thu, 24 Mar 2011 14:27:57 +0000 Scott McKenzie http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/scottmckenzie/?p=278 I was flying home from New York last week and unusually for me – my wife says I can be a bit unfriendly to strangers - I struck up a conversation with a lovely older lady sitting next to me.

We talked a bit about her job importing antiques into the US, about the parts of the UK and Europe she liked visiting and about US politics. And then she asked me the killer question - “what do you do”?

I find this question difficult to answer. It’s so obvious and yet intangible at the same time. Perhaps the simplest definition is this “We help organisations communicate about change”.

This is simple enough. But it doesn’t really sell the “value” of what we do (a topic which has been much debated recently). I found myself talking passionately about the role we play in helping leaders and employees understand each other better.

And it’s true. I genuinely believe that when we are at our best  we influence leaders to see the wider picture. To see beyond the bottom line.

We can (and often do) remind our leaders that organisations have a broader obligation to their employees and other stakeholders.

In that context the contribution we make is significant. Our role moves beyond news gatherers, or channel managers. We become problem-solvers. In David Maister’s words we become trusted advisors.

H&K’s new leader – Jack Martin - talks about this being the “fifth chair”. So just like the lawyer, or accountant, or investment banker, or management consultant, we professional communicators have a role at the top table advising the Chief Executive.

Jack sees no reason that we should not be seen as senior counsel – after all we are responsible for engaging employees, consumers and other key stakeholders. We help build and protect the brand and reputation of the organisation. We manage in Jack’s word the “public” risk.

There is clearly value in all of that. So, why should we not play a senior, strategic role?

Communications Counsel? I like the sound of that.

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