With the many headlines of big-bank and non-bank lending abuses during the past few years, managing your community bank's reputation has become a full-contact sport. With public opinion of bankers generally at a 30-year low and many consumers still assuming that banks are a homogenous group, community bank officers and directors must take an active role in shaping public opinions about their institutions. Here are six timely plays to add to your community bank's public-relations playbook: 1. Empower brand ambassadors. 2. Be a newsmaker. 3. Influence the influencers. 4. Leverage paid advertising. 5. Hit the street. 6. Walk the talk.
vantage point empower brand ambassadors. Good public relations begins with front-line employees who, if informed and empowered to discuss both corporate and industry issues, truly are your best brand ambas- sadors. Ensure that all of your community bank’s employees understand your institution’s strategic Full-ContaCt moves, such as acquisitions of bank competitors. Just as important, employees should be knowl- PubliC edgeable about management’s views on industry challenges, such as new consumer-protection regulations or the effects of consumer credit scores on loan rates. be a newsmaker. It’s 4 p.m. on Friday, and you’re still neck-deep in meetings and paper- Relations work. Invariably, this is when you’ll get a mes- sage that a local newspaper reporter seeks your comments on what the newest federal regula- tory proposal will mean for consumers. Community bankers who actively manage their institutions’ reputation recognize this all-too-common inconvenience as a golden opportunity. Being accessible to journalists and willing to comment on a wide range of banking issues will allow you to educate reporters, customers and potential customers on what your
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