The Royal Bank of Scotland, the bank brought to the edge of destruction by the infamous Sir Fred Goodwin and now owned by the taxpayer, is searching for a PR company.
A pretty tall order you might think, especially when it is said that the brief is to restore the public’s faith in its brand and retail banking businesses. One would expect the winning agency to demand its money up front, with none of this payment-by-results nonsense.
The project will cover consumer and media relations for the group’s NatWest and RBS bank branches, as well its recently launched and heavily advertised “customer charter”.
This 14-point document makes promises on opening hours, waiting times and branch closures, although the abiding memory is of those slightly uneasy commercials where the sterling effort to make the bank and its employees seem human almost but doesn’t quite work.
The real barrier to public popularity for the RBS and other UK banks such as Lloyds TSB, Barclays and HSBC, stems from endless attempts by banks to sell something to customers who think they’ve just made a simple enquiry, the reluctance to make business and mortgage loans, and the continual imposition of extra fees at the drop of a hat.
Until the banks sort out their policies and behaviour at a fundamental level, no amount of PR spin will lift their reputations.