OK, I have to comment on this. It’s all about trust, you know. When the taxpayers are moaning and groaning about huge government bailouts of private companies and fearing greatly that the big time executives will just run off with multi-millions of taxpayer dollars, it is really really really stupid to do anything like this retreat. Oh, I’m sure it was planned well in advance. And it is an incentive tool I’m sure for high producers. And they probably deserve the kind of luxury treatment for their outstanding performance. Doesn’t matter one whit. The only smart thing to do under the circumstance would be to kill it, delay it or find some other way to recognize the performance.
Here’s further info from PR Week.
Did they think no one would notice? Did they think no one would care? It’s about transparency folks. You can’t hide in this environment, you can’t do things to violate the public trust. I’ve been saying for some time we live in a time of public franchise–the public ultimately gets to decide if you deserve to stay in business. But when the public, as in taxpayer, now has bailed you out, or owns stock in you, the day of public franchise has just gotten a whole lot more intense. Could be a good time for crisis managers and reputation management experts.
I’m very pleased to present a guest comment by a good friend, crisisblogger reader/commenter and a true crisis communication expert. Neil Chapman lives in London and is a top level communication manager for a global company. He sees the loss of trust in our major institutions as a major threat to communicators and CEOs concerned about building and maintaining trust for their organizations in these unsettling times:
Americans are angry at Wall Street over the financial crisis. Here’s a reaction http://tiny.cc/c2cCJ from the other side of the world – individuals who feel duped by banks in Singapore that sold them financial structured products they believed to be protected deposits. The story is told by The Online Citizen – a community of Singaporeans (http://theonlinecitizen.com/). It brings the crisis down to the level of ordinary people.
If truth is the first victim of war then trust must be one of the early victims of the current financial crisis. Trust in banks, trust in politicians and, I would argue, trust in companies and the economic system in general. When people’s cynicism meters are in the red zone, it spills over into other areas. If that is happening then it is a long-term issue crisis communicators will have to deal with. The next time a corporate crisis impacts people because of someone’s greed or incompetence, I suspect you will see an even greater level of distrust and anger directed at the managers who ‘were asleep at the wheel’, the regulators ‘who should have seen it coming’ and the politicians ‘ who once again failed to protect the ordinary citizen.’
I would argue that trust-building just got harder for all of us.