Most Financial Firms Don’t Mention Crisis

The majority of financial services companies (66%) don’t mention the financial crisis on their corporate Web site home pages.

Public relations firm Weber Shandwick examined the home pages of 55 U.S. and European/EMEA financial services companies on a weekly basis since mid-October. When financial services firms did communicate, three main messages appeared most often: general economy updates and statistics (up to 33% in February from 19% in mid-October), company strength and longevity (25% from 19%), and, direct efforts to reassure customers and other visitors about their personal financial security (12% from 15%), according to a release of the results.

The most common messaging methods employed by the financial services firms examined are corporate statements, commentaries, and reports (up to 34% in February from 19% in mid-October), as well as videos, audio casts, and Webcasts (up to 14% from 10%). The least frequently used type of home page communications formats are press releases, newsletters, and executive speeches.

When financial services firms addressed the economic crisis on their home pages, they sometimes linked to a message from a company executive, most likely the CEO/chairman (up to 24% in February from 13% in mid-October), although sometimes other executives were utilized.

Barb Iverson, president of Weber Shandwick’s financial services industry practice group, noted the importance of putting a message on a home page: “High anxiety undoubtedly causes many people to seek information about the health of the companies in which they entrust savings and investments or do business with on a regular basis. For many, the Web sites of these financial services companies are one of the first places that customers, investors, and others go to in search of information and reassurance.”

Weber Shandwick recommended financial services companies incorporate actionable information, such as a glossary of terms frequently mentioned in the media, and craft messages that acknowledge customers’ concern. The firm also suggested tapping into effective social media tools—podcasts, Webcasts, blogs, and customer discussion forums can engage stakeholders and make the financial services firm relationship more personal and interactive.