Banking industry reputations are shaped by media coverage

It’s been an interesting time for Lloyds Banking Group and the media coverage left us wondering what stakeholders would be taking out of the expansive coverage that’s been written in specialist and national media.

Mixed messages, that’s for sure, with a number of different stories making headlines and a variety of perspectives on how good a job the bank is doing for its customers, investors and employees:

  • The announcement of Lloyds’  Q1 2023 results showed a 46% increase in profits. At face value, this was good news, but not for everyone. Although Lloyds was cautious in its forward guidance, there was widespread comment that the bank was benefiting from interest rate hikes and that savers were not necessarily sharing these advantages. The word of 2023 so far is ‘greedflation’ and, like oil companies, supermarkets and others over recent weeks, Lloyds was accused by at least one influential consumer media source of profiteering. What’s more, there were warnings from the bank of increased mortgage arrears and defaults – a sign that, while the bank is recovering from the pandemic, many of its customers are having a torrid time and won’t be thrilled to read about its financial recovery while their homes are being repossessed
  • Financial news sources were quick to highlight the fall in share price that followed the results announcement. That might not be as bad as it sounds, depending on whether you’re sitting on Lloyds shares or looking for investment opportunities. Some are questioning how much further the share price can fall, while others see the bank as a good long-term bet and possibly now a stock to buy. On the other hand, weakness in bank stocks is a reminder of other storms in the US market. With another regional bank failure reported a few days before the Lloyds trading update, some will be mindful of the sell-off in the UK banking sector after the Credit Suisse takeover by UBS in March. Customers, not always well versed in the ups and downs of the trading floor, want to be confident that their money is in safe hands
  • Then came the unexpected announcement that Lloyds Banking Group staff are being recalled to the office two days per week. A fierce backlash was widely reported in the media, despite the fact that, before the pandemic, most bank employees had meekly shown up on the premises five days a week. What must businesses and workers in the retail, healthcare and hospitality industries think when bankers bewail the disruption to their home lives? As bank customers, are they judging this foot-stamping ‘fury’ while they commute uncomplainingly to jobs which could never be done on a hybrid basis?

We must be clear that Lloyds is only the latest in a string of financial institutions to report increased profit and after the crash of 2008 many will be happy to see strong balance sheets in the UK financial sector. However, for bank customers mentally filtering the content behind the headlines, what conclusions are to be drawn from this single weeks’ worth of media focus? More importantly, is Lloyds Banking Group aware of the overall impression that this media coverage has created among its key stakeholder groups?  How will this content shape perceptions and customer intentions, at a time when shopping around can uncover some excellent deals and previously loyal customers can be bought with special offers for new account holders, or cashback for switching?

Reputation and trust in financial institutions underpin the world’s financial system. Once in a while, these pillars get shaken, as this year’s bank collapses have once again demonstrated. What matters then is the ability to fully understand the role played by online media coverage in influencing not just opinions, but behaviour. Recognising – and being able to quantify objectively – which undercurrents and messages are permeating the consciousness of stakeholders can help navigate the tide of opinion, criticism and favourable comment. It’s all about achieving a balanced view of the likely impact of coverage on the media audience who are also customers, shareholders or employees.

Metricomm helps organisations in the financial services industry to better understand and properly quantify the probable impact of media coverage on the audience. Our work, powered by AI and sophisticated statistical analysis, includes identifying which messages are reaching the engaged audience, which publications are key reputation shapers and how this coverage contributes to changes in share price. This data enables better communication, better commercial decisions and better customer relations.

It works for banks and for many other organisations for whom reputation and stakeholder perceptions are important. To learn more, contact hello@metricomm.com

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