Insights Serra Balls

Alles all uber der platz

Deutsche Banks comes under pressure and Marie Stopes pulls off a PR triumph.

Spare a thought for Deutsche Bank’s communications folks this week. The Times’ Harry Wilson broke the storythat their CEO John Cryan was due to be replaced and that the Group’s Supervisory Board was in discussions with internal and external candidates.

The banking reporters got stuck in and stories abounded quoting sources close to the organisation but Deutsche kept formally quiet.  The next day DB released an internal memoexternally saying Cryan was, à la Hello magazine, deeply happy in the marriage and that there was no divorce on the cards.

Wild media speculation continued in a total communications vacuum. Eight days later a brief and ominous one line communication– a formal requirement for German companies but particularly unhelpful in the context of the continued run of media stories – said that the Supervisory Board was to take a decision on the CEO. They duly did, and then posted yet another internal memo, this time from the new CEO Christian Sewing.

Deutsche’s Weltschmerz has been well documented. It may be that DB has finally accepted that it can’t compete with the big Wall Street firms in the U.S. and needs to shrink its cost base and focus closer to home. This latest episode did nothing to help its already distressed reputation and compounded the impression of it as a dysfunctional organisation.

The release of internal memos – either leaked to media or formally posted on websites – is a favourite post-crisis banking tactic, but it is beginning to look stale and inappropriate. It strikes of pretending an organisation is indifferent to the outside world, yet desperately craves its approval.  The world now expects greater transparency and engagement.  Companies need to be confident enough to include the good sentiments and direct messages they use with employees in the outside world.

Who made an emotional connection this week?

Marie Stopes executed a brilliant PR effort in the news on Thursday when Ealing Council enforced an exclusion order on doorsteppers to those using its abortion clinic in the borough. The charity released police incident reports which were published and flashed on screen in TV items showing the actual cases of harassment. It provided a credible, articulate and empathetic patientof the clinic for interview, who brought home the pain caused by the those targeting patients trying to access the clinic. It organised a celebration rally of Marie Stopes supporters dressed in pink and championing women’s rights. It was all well packaged, thought through and ready to broadcast – a no brainer for the networks. Nicely done.