Financial Firms’ Failure to Communicate; Networkers Balk at Ads; Downturn Damages Internal PR Depts

Journalists Not Digging Financial Firms' Communications: According to a survey of journalists conducted by BackBay Communications and Marketwire, financial services companies are not perceived as communicating effectively with their stakeholders during the current recession. According to the findings:

Respondents believe the biggest communications challenges for these firms in the next six months will be: overcoming a credibility gap with their constituencies (66%), managing crises (57%) and responding to regulatory changes (50%);

Journalists, meanwhile, identified their biggest challenges as getting these firms to communicate (48%), finding time and resources to cover the news (47%) and knowing whom to believe (39%); and,

Respondents cited the most common mistakes by financial firms that lead to negative coverage as a failure to communicate newsworthy developments promptly and honestly (79%), not responding to calls or e-mails seeking commentary (76%) and evasive responses (70%).

Source: BackBay Communications and Marketwire

Advertising and Participation on Social Networks: A recent study by InsightExpress explored the participation trends across social networks, specifically in the context of how receptive members are to advertising. When asked how willing they are to see advertising in their social network, respondents claimed to be less willing to view marketing messages on sites when these messages are blatant advertising. According to the findings:

MySpace, Facebook and Classmates were identified as the networks with the most obvious advertising, while LinkedIn had the least number of individuals who think the advertising is obvious;

Opt-in ads seem to be the best route, with 40% of social networkers condoning this practice, while only 20% giving behavior-based campaigns the green light; and,

About 23% of LinkedIn, Facebook, Classmates, MySpace and Reunion profilers said a marketing approach based on randomly generated ads is acceptable, while 43% of Cafemom, Twitter and Flickr users found it acceptable.

Source: InsightExpress

Recession Causes Modest Damage to Internal PR Departments: A report released by the USC Annenberg Strategic Communication and Public Relations Center (SCPRC )supports the notion that no one is immune to challenges prompted by the current economic climate, including PR/communications departments. The survey's findings were broken down in these categories:


Half (51%) of responding organizations indicated their financial year (FY) 2009 PR/communication budgets were smaller than what they actually spent in fiscal 2008, by an average of 19%.

Although 31% indicated that their FY 2009 budgets were similar to those of the prior year, this too must be seen in the context of year-to-date budget cuts averaging 3.9%.

Staff sizes:

While 63% of respondents indicated that their staffs did not change in size in 2008, 22% downsized their PR/communication staffs by about one-fifth (22%) last year. Another 15% reported staff growth.

For the current (2009) fiscal year, 73% anticipate no changes in staffing levels while 7% anticipate growth, of about 15% on average; 20% anticipate that staff reductions, averaging to 27%, will occur at some point during the year.


In 2008, compensation was greatly affected by the recession. Nearly two-fifths (39%) of participating organizations froze the salaries paid to PR/communication staff, while 7% reduced employee compensation.

For 2009, 56% anticipate compensation freezes, while 21% believe they will have to reduce compensation by an average of 11.7%.

Use of outside agencies:

Of the 58% of responding organizations that reported working with one or more outside agencies, 69% indicated they have already reduced or plan to reduce the fees paid to those agencies.

Those that have already reduced agency compensation have done so by an average of 28%; those anticipating cuts expect them to amount to an average of 22%. PRN

Source: USC Annenberg SCPRC