Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Top 4 Recent PR Bloopers in the Financial Industry

Financial organisations have stolen a rather large share of the negative limelight in recent years. Other prominent self-styled supervillain entities such as Monsanto and Academi / XE / Blackwater / Pointless-Name-Change-Number-4000 are probably ecstatic at the temporary lull in scathing media coverage.

Meanwhile, helpless entities like Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan are being ripped apart by the public. Their only meagre consolation is that they are in bed with regulatory agencies that will never bring them fully to account for their actions, but what good is that? Once you lose the love of the public, it will take more than buying your 3rd yacht to console you.

This witch hunt has also brought out some unfortunate bloopers by these financial firms. Let us look at the top 4 and take note on how to avoid such PR no-nos in the future.

4. The Rich are the new Poor

An unnamed banker recently complained about Morgan Stanley capping their bonuses at $125,000:

"After tax, that’s like, what, $75,000?" an investment banker at a rival firm said as he contemplated Morgan Stanley’s decision. He ran the numbers, modeling the implications. "I’m not married and I take the subway and I watch what I spend very carefully. But my girlfriend likes to eat good food. It all adds up really quick. A taxi here, another taxi there. I just bought an apartment, so now I have a big old mortgage bill."

Don’t get me wrong, I spat out my caviar myself after reading about these capped bonuses. However, talking about your plight if you’re a banker in this current climate is unwise. Once this economic mess dies down, you can start negotiating a better pay packet and not have to suffer the horrors of public transportation or women who date you for your personality rather than your wallet. Hang in there.

3. Champagne Supernova

During the Occupy Wall Street protests, bankers were caught 'toasting' the protestors with champagne from the balcony.

Of course some people decided to take this as a sign of arrogance, rather than what it really was - hard working bankers inviting them in to the building for a party.

If you’re a banker, you can avoid this by holding these parties in private secluded locations. It would also greatly help your company’s image if you were to donate your champagne surplus at the end of these events to the local orphanage.

2. Holy Avenger

Lloyd Blankfein, the CEO of Goldman Sachs and revered Captain of Industry, made a well-publicised blooper in 2009 when he declared that his bank was doing “God’s Work”.

Critics might argue that god’s work might consist of more than just misleading investors about the value of stocks and then secretly selling them behind their backs, but this can be disproved with a simple handy quote from the Bible:

Leviticus 25:14
"If you sell or buy property from one of your countrymen, don't cheat him…”

..wait that wasn’t it, here’s the right one:

Colossians 3:23
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.”

Ah there we go. He truly was doing god’s work. But the next time, it would help to carry around a holy book and back up your statements with ancient wisdom.

1. Didn’t you get the memo?

A delightful letter was thrown at the Occupy Chicago protestors. In it, the bankers calmly stated that they needed jobs too and if Wall Street was put under any more pressure, they would have no option but to steal the jobs of teachers, landscapers and other lower income workers. Here’s a copy:

“We are Wall Street. It’s our job to make money. Whether it’s a commodity, stock, bond, or some hypothetical piece of fake paper, it doesn’t matter. We would trade baseball cards if it were profitable. I didn’t hear America complaining when the market was roaring to 14,000 and everyone’s 401k doubled every 3 years. Just like gambling, its not a problem until you lose. I’ve never heard of anyone going to Gamblers Anonymous because they won too much in Vegas.

Well now the market crapped out, & even though it has come back somewhat, the government and the average Joes are still looking for a scapegoat. God knows there has to be one for everything. Well, here we are.

Go ahead and continue to take us down, but you’re only going to hurt yourselves. What’s going to happen when we can’t find jobs on the Street anymore? Guess what: We’re going to take yours. We get up at 5am & work till 10pm or later. We’re used to not getting up to pee when we have a position. We don’t take an hour or more for a lunch break. We don’t demand a union. We don’t retire at 50 with a pension. We eat what we kill, and when the only thing left to eat is on your dinner plates, we’ll eat that.

For years teachers and other unionized labor have had us fooled. We were too busy working to notice. Do you really think that we are incapable of teaching 3rd graders and doing landscaping? We’re going to take your cushy jobs with tenure and 4 months off a year and whine just like you that we are so-o-o-o underpaid for building the youth of America. Say goodbye to your overtime and double time and a half. I’ll be hitting grounders to the high school baseball team for $5k extra a summer, thank you very much.

So now that we’re going to be making $85k a year without upside, Joe Mainstreet is going to have his revenge, right? Wrong! Guess what: we’re going to stop buying the new 80k car, we aren’t going to leave the 35 percent tip at our business dinners anymore. No more free rides on our backs. We’re going to landscape our own back yards, wash our cars with a garden hose in our driveways. Our money was your money. You spent it. When our money dries up, so does yours.

The difference is, you lived off of it, we rejoiced in it. The Obama administration and the Democratic National Committee might get their way and knock us off the top of the pyramid, but it’s really going to hurt like hell for them when our fat a**es land directly on the middle class of America and knock them to the bottom.

We aren’t dinosaurs. We are smarter and more vicious than that, and we are going to survive. The question is, now that Obama & his administration are making Joe Mainstreet our food supply…will he? and will they?”

Poor people should heed this message. After all, it has been scientifically proven that only bankers are capable of waking up at 5 in the morning (Kids at home: Do not attempt this dangerous feat).

Nevertheless, the Chicago bankers made one mistake, and that was to reveal their plans to the enemy. Instead of secretly stealing blue collar jobs and cutlery, their scheme has now been widely read by the public. Does a poker player show his/her cards before burning the host’s house to the ground? NO. Come on!

Anyway, this concludes our brief roundup of banking PR disasters and how to avoid them in the future. Stay strong and consider cutting back to 4 vacations a year, the industry still has a storm to ride out.

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