Case Study: Wells Fargo

Secret accounts don't stay secret for long.

Secret accounts won’t
stay secret for long.

Right now people are angry, and anger is a powerful motivator.

By creating millions of fake accounts, Wells Fargo violated the public’s basic need to feel secure. The reaction was visceral because what was done was personal and easy to understand, compared to the sophisticated and distant machinations that caused the 2008 financial meltdown.

If Wells did this to you, what else might it be doing? Not a reassuring thought.

Wells has a steep mountain to climb to restore its reputation.

How does it do this? It’ll take persistence and time, and no more mistakes. Wells won’t be able to put this behind it as long as investigations and lawsuits continue — and those will drag on for years. Even after that, one future slip-up (or the unearthing of other dark problems) will unravel any goodwill that has been rebuilt.

What action does it need to take? Closing unauthorized accounts and refunding fees (as it’s promised) is only a start. Quota systems must be gone for good, and the corporate culture that caused them must be changed. Wells must conduct thorough internal investigations to ensure nothing else is lurking.

If the investigations find any taint, either from old or new problems, anyone involved must go. No matter how high up in the hierarchy, and no exceptions. Even for Sloan (the new CEO). Transparency requires no less.

Was it right to appoint a long-time insider as the new CEO? You can argue the pros and cons of both sides.

Regardless of who sits in the big chair, the truly important questions are the same: What’s his track record? What’s his vision? And is he willing to do whatever needs to be done to repair Wells’ reputation?

The answers must be: Squeaky clean. No lies. And damn straight.

(For additional thoughts from Eden, check out this story from the LA Times.)

“Because Reputation Is Your Most Valuable Asset”

Gillott Communications is a Strategic PR firm. We’re Fixers. Crisis & Reputation Management. Litigation. Media Relations. Crisis Prep. More than half a century of expertise working with clients to resolve issues both in and outside the media’s glare — in their professional and personal lives.

You can reach Roger Gillott and Eden Gillott Bowe directly at 310-396-8696.

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For a deeper glimpse into our world, see our book on Amazon, “A Lawyer’s Guide to Crisis PR: Protecting Your Clients In & From the Media.”

Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

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