Biggest Latvian bank fighting rumours attack


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Baltic PR Awards 2012
Organization: SWEDBANK
Country: Latvia
Project name: Biggest Latvian bank fighting rumours attack

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Biggest Latvian bank fighting rumours attack

  1. 1. Category: ISSUE AND CRISIS MANAGEMENTSwedbank (Latvia)Title of CampaignBiggest Latvian bank fighting rumours attackSummaryNovember brings crisis in Latvian banking sector as Krājbanka crashes leaving people with limited access totheir money and larger deposits lost. Unsuccessful crisis communication renders people losing trust in banksand being skeptical about statements of officials.Just 3 weeks later another crisis is approaching – rumours from unknown sources are spread that Latviaslargest bank with half of population as its clients is going down. People start queueing up by SwedbankATMs and some municipalities withdraw deposits. The stakes are high – if the panic spreads, it mightdestabilize not only Swedbank, but Latvian economy as such. Team has less than hour to activate crisiscommunication according to manual and start executing. It is Sunday, so communication is highly difficult,and longterm investment in Swedbanks reputation pays off: media take supportive role, clients are hesitantand waiting for situation development. Bank firstly addresses incoming client inquiries, meanwhile makingsure that cash is available at ATMs and branches are ready to work in situation of extreme client activity.The crisis is prevented in 2 days and only 10% of clients react to rumours. Exceptional results inindependent reputation surveys prove that right crisis communication strategy has boosted Swedbanksreputation.SituationNovember brings crisis in Latvian banking sector as Krājbanka crashes leaving people with limited access totheir money and larger deposits lost. Day before it happens officials and Krājbanka representatives claim onmedia that situation is under control. Only 3 weeks later, on 11 December rumours from unknow sources arespread that Swedbank is going down. People start queueing up by banks ATMs. The stakes are extremelyhigh – if the panic spreads and withdraw of money goes beyond control, it might destabilize not onlySwedbank, but Latvian economy in general.ObjectivesObjectives of the crisis communication were: Prevent deposit outflow Minimize negative effect on banks reputation Prevent panic on social and mainstream media, as well as by ATMs Crisis communication team had at its disposal internal case study of Krājbanka crash case prepared before rumours spread, real time social and mainstream media monitoring was carried out. After crisis bank engaged clients in research of “rumour anatomy”. Clients and relevant state officials were selected as primary stakeholders. Employees, media and 3 rd parties – as secondary.StrategyStrategy of crisis communication was highly impacted by Krājbanka case. Instead of justifying itself on themedia and addressing clients that might be unaware of the rumours, Swedbank first responded to clientinquiries directly showing its availability and making sure panic would not spread further. Secondly, Baltic PR Awards 2012
  2. 2. Category: ISSUE AND CRISIS MANAGEMENTSwedbank ensured that people could withdraw the money, but by doing so indirectly invited people torethink their action and share the responsibility.Personal communication with clients was prioritized. Main channels used: banks website, Swedbank clientmanagers and Twitter. In media communication key opinion leaders and stakeholders were engaged asspokespersons, bank responded immediately to any inquiry, but banks representatives appeared in mediawhen crisis was under control.Criteria for evaluation:- level of withdrawn deposits in comparison to average normal activity and longer term dynamics- content of publicity- banks reputation according to independent research (Reputation Top, Most Loved Brands, SustainabilityIndex)Execution 4pm on Sunday crisis communication team gets to work. For each stakeholder group specialized materials and communication approach developed. Clients – updated information on banks webpage, direct messages and individual replies on Twitter Officials – direct personal contact Employees – Q&A, guidelines for client managers Media – immediate response, but involving 3rd parties and officials as spokespersons ATMs are monitored and constantly filled with cash already on Sunday. Realtime information on where ATMs are empty and when they will be filled provided on banks website. On Monday managers get in contact with clients, branches open earlier to minimize queuing outside. Swedbank takes position that unbiased information and ensuring bank’s actual day-to-day operations is the best way to dispel rumours. On Tuesday bank is back to business as usual. Later on a webpage “Rumour anatomy” created to engage clients in reconstruction of how rumours had spread.Documented ResultsCrisis prevented in 2 days. Only 6-10% of clients moved money that constituted 100 million lats withdrawalabove average. Most of money returned to the bank in coming weeks and after 6 months amount of depositsincreased by 113 million lats. Trust created by more than 10 years reputation building was the key ofsuccess. Within time limitations, it was impossible to convince all stakeholders about groundlessness ofrumours. Nevertheless, media proactively took supportive role and critical mass of clients were skepticalabout rumours. National TV news journalist claimed that “he sees these rumours as attack to Latvian State”.Gold category at Sustainability Index, 2nd place on Reputation Top and 3rd place in Most Loved Brand surveyproved that Swedbanks reputation had benefited from successful crisis communication. Swedbank receivedgratitude from the government and was asked to represent Latvia with this case at European Deposit InsurersForum in Geneve. Baltic PR Awards 2012