PR managers in banking mired in digital challengesBY JOHNNY MCGINLEY
I have found myself thinking recently that it is a challenging time to be a Public Relations Manager in both the Asian and global banking sector. Public Relations ultimately aims to build solid and effective relationships with stakeholders, while simultaneously shaping public perceptions of banks.
One of the biggest stakeholders particularly in retail banking is of course the public and the customers of the bank. In recent years retail banks have poured significant investment into digital and mobile banking technology.
Online and mobile banking has grown in popularity as well as the potential for increasing Social Media integration to drive a deeper and more meaningful engagement with customers.
Indeed, a recent report by Ovum titled “Retail Banking Technology Spending Model Through 2016: Business Function Segmentation” revealed that emerging economies in the Asia Pacific region will grow the fastest at a rate of 8.3% in 2012 hitting $10.2bn by he end of the year.
The implications of mobile and online banking coupled with greater investment in digital retail banking technology has led to customers visiting their high street bank less and less, a trend that is only expected to continue.
This in turn has generated and fuelled much topical debate globally within the banking industry on the future of high street banking branches. As customers visit their high street banking branch less and less the bank loses to a certain extent that personal relationship between its staff and the customer.
As that relationship is slowly eroded the urgency for a deeper engagement with customers online becomes critical to gathering crucial business intelligence. And that of course is where Public Relations and Digital Marketing will play an ever increasing role.
However, the challenges for today’s Public Relations Manager working in the banking sector do not end there. In particular a combination of the global recession, the ongoing Eurozone Crisis and the impact of the Occupy movement have all fuelled a growing “anti banking” sentiment by public.
There is public anger towards banks particularly in Europe. Digital activism has also grown and continues to grow. When taken together these issues present significant challenges to Public Relations managers in the retail banking sector seeking to build deeper relationships with their customers and the public.
Inevitably what you find is that many are unsure how to respond. Indeed, many Corporate Public Relations professionals working in London, one of Europe’s main financial centres are saying to me they feel they lack the necessary training in Digital Marketing, Digital Media Communication and managing effectively Digital Activism.
The training of Corporate Public Relations professionals in Digital Media Communication is becoming an increasingly prominent issue in Europe.
The huge explosion of Social Media has been something of a double edged sword for banks and corporations. On the one hand it has brought many advantages in terms of consumer engagement.
Yet on the other hand it has also fuelled a growth in digital activism by citizens which in turn poses growing reputation management risks to be managed. I would argue that those risks can only be effectively managed by greater investment in digital training within banking.
Technology in the digital media communications sector changes rapidly. It always will. Keeping pace of the change is essential.
Crucially that necessitates the need to continually be mindful of the need to plan for and set aside budget allocation for staff training in Digital Media Communications technology within the banking sector.
Sometimes we can easily overlook this I feel. To be specific we need to understand not just Digital Media Communications technology in itself, but crucially its application to Digital Activism, which is posing a growing risk to banking reputation management globally.