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NatWest blunder risks long-term reputational damage

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NatWest blunder risks long-term reputational damage

NatWest has pulled ads in a bid to improve its reputation, amidst widespread criticism of its crisis management strategy following a computer glitch that led to customers being unable to withdraw money or move funds.

The bank has suspended all of its “Helpful Banking” advertising activity until the problems are dealt with to minimise negative associations with the current fiasco.

However, Francis Ingham, director general of the Public Relations Consultants Association, thinks the RBS-owned bank has already broken the “golden rule” of dealing with a crisis by not telling customers of the issue first.

Speaking to Marketing Week, he indicated that the reputation management approach of NatWest has been lacking and could cause permanent damage to the brand.

“For millions of customers … the first communication they had was via the media, not via their bank. When you’re talking about such a fundamental issue as being able to get hold of your own money, that just isn’t tolerable,” Mr Ingham said.

After making a “mess” of its initial response, NatWest must now be “generous” with customers and provide “cast iron” evidence that it won’t happen again, he added.

NatWest has taken steps to allay customers’ fears, including sending emails to customers, extending branch opening hours and posting a message from RBS chief executive Stephen Hester on the home page of the bank’s website.

In it he states that fixing the problems are a “priority” and that no one will be left out of pocket by the glitch.

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Simon Kinnear

About the Author

Simon has worked in PR for over 10 years, specialising in copywriting for a broad variety of B2B and B2C clients. Throughout, he has given a voice to position clients in leading trade and consumer titles throughout the UK and Europe, using press releases, features, ‘expert voice’ articles, brochures, leaflets, direct mail, annual reports and social media. In a prior role, he co-ordinated the press office for a busy NHS Trust, including event management and crisis response. He is passionate about cinema and in his spare time moonlights as a freelance film journalist and contributor to Total Film magazine, giving him first-hand experience both in writing for a consumer audience and in understanding the requirements of editors.

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