Bimbo Banter

Is Public Relations Obsolete?

  • Trends
  • October 10, 2014
  • by Spaeth Communications

Have you seen September’s Bank Marketing magazine? If not, here’s an excerpt of Merrie’s article, “Is Public Relations Obsolete.” To find the answer, read below or click here to read the full article.


Is Public Relations Obsolete?

No. It simply needs to adjust to a radically altered communications landscape. That means making more extensive use of video and interactive media to tell compelling stories through the mouths of both customers and employees.


At one time in the not-too-distant past, one aspect of good public relations involved getting a favorable article about your bank published in the local newspaper. These days, with the newspaper industry in decline in many markets, it’s getting harder to find a print publication for an article to appear in—yet alone someone willing to read it.

Does this mean that public relations is obsolete? Far from it.

“PR is even more important than ever.” Those were the words of John Waupsh, chief innovation and chief creative officer of Austin, Texas-based BancVue at a meeting of community banks earlier this year in Phoenix. His talk, entitled, “How to Effectively Compete—Even Against Non-Bank Banks by Breaking through the Clutter,” had a sobering message: Competition is skyrocketing, and most community banks’ business models are woefully out-of-date.

Waupsh’s presentation outlined the challenges from new competitors as well as the changing world of mobile banking. His research also revealed that most banks are focusing on the wrong message. They’re stressing service when their customers and the public—prospective customers—already think highly of the community services that community and regional banks provide. The real issue is that they don’t think community and regional banks provide a wide variety of sophisticated products and services.

In addition to re-assessing a bank’s advertising and marketing approach, what value can public relations add? It’s no secret we’re in a period of amazingly rapid change in the communication landscape, so our first task is to redefine public relations as “communication that is aligned with advertising and marketing that influences what a listener hears, believes and remembers,” my definition of effective communication.

There are at least two things public relations can add. First, PR can convey that banks are indeed good corporate citizens and contribute enormously to the civic and economic health of your communities. Second, public relations should enlist your employees and existing customers as ambassadors for your bank.

Today, public relations professionals must ask, “Who is my audience, and how do they access information?” And next, “What information matters to them?” A news release about an internal promotion, new product or contribution isn’t likely to engage existing customers or create new ones.

Click here to read the full article.

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