The PRV Report Card: This Week’s Winners & Losers

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & LosersPR WINNER OF THE WEEK: “A” (PR PERFECT) to H&M, the sole clothing retailer set to advertise during the Superbowl. They’re going against heavyweights in the automotive, fast food and alcohol groups, but their $4 million gamble will likely pay off thanks to advance buzz on their commercial. In it, soccer star David Beckham, who has a line of underwear with H&M, will appear either in his briefs or naked (by TV standards) according to fan votes of #covered or #uncovered. This could be the first Superbowl in history with higher female than male ratings.

dimon The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & LosersPR LOSER OF THE WEEK: “F” (Full Fiasco) to Jamie Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan, for telling CNBC that the expensive government legal cases against his bank were “unfair.” In swanky Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum, Dimon said the bank, which paid $13 billion to settle claims over mortgage securities dealings and $7 billion more over hinky derivatives, power trading and overselling of credit card products, faced “two really bad options” between settling or fighting the cases. Going to court “would really hurt this company and that would have been criminal for me to subject our company to those kinds of issues.” Criminal as in, say, fraud? Better not to have picked up this gauntlet.

george zimmerman painting 300x235 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & LosersTHE PRV “THERE’S NO ‘THERE’ THERE” AWARD to George Zimmerman, acquitted of murder and now trying his hand at  “art.” Last July, Zimmerman was found not guilty of the 2012 murder of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin. With a stack of hefty legal bills and job prospects presumably thin, Zimmerman has miraculously found his inner painter. His first piece, a blue flag with a patriotic verse painted on an 18 x 24-inch canvas, sold for more than $100,000 on eBay. His second work depicts prosecutor Angela Corey holding finger and thumb slightly apart with the caption “I have this much respect for the American judicial system – Angie C.” We fervently hope the art-buying world has even less than that for George.

 

JP Morgan: It May Take Two

 JP Morgan: It May Take Two

THE PR VERDICT: “D” (PR Problematic) for JP Morgan. (Pictured: JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon.)

Megabank JP Morgan hit the headlines over the weekend with news that it was mobilizing its senior management to defeat a shareholder vote on corporate governance. In advance of a vote at next month’s annual meeting, board members are planning to sit down with some of the bank’s biggest shareholders, encouraging them to block a motion to separate the role of CEO and Chairman.

Momentum for the proposal has gathered steam following the losses from the London Whale trading episode and JPM’s nearly $6 billion in losses. Fairly or unfairly, questions about the CEO have been raised, and whether or not it is possible to manage a firm of JP Morgan’s size. Following some recent ugly congressional hearings, the new catch cry is not only too big to fail abut also too big to manage. This recent suggestion, to split the current Chairman/CEO role into two is an attempt, so say its proponents, to get another set of eyes overseeing day-to-day management.

The Board of JP Morgan isn’t in favor of the change, while press reports have CEO Jamie Dimon being alternatively sanguine about the proposal or threatening to leave, if the motion is approved. To avoid ongoing external scrutiny and to appease fierce critics in Washington and elsewhere, this may be one battle not worth fighting.

THE PR VERDICT: “D” (PR Problematic) for JP Morgan and its decision to oppose suggested governance reforms.

THE PR TAKEAWAY: Give an inch to keep a mile. It’s not really clear what JP Morgan’s objections are to splitting the role of CEO and Chairman. It is, after all, a structure that is already in place in many companies around the world, and splitting the roles is generally perceived as a desirable safeguard. For a firm that has been dragged through acres of tough media coverage about its internal management controls, this might have been one relatively painless and not unreasonable concession to make. Another financial loss or management failure around the corner, and JP Morgan may rue the day it so vociferously opposed such a modest reform.

JP Morgan’s Whale of a Hangover

 JP Morgans Whale of a Hangover

THE PR VERDICT: “C” (Distinctly OK) for JP Morgan. (Pictured: JPM chief Jamie Dimon.)

Stiff drinks for the staff at JP Morgan? A martini or two might have helped ease the pain from Friday’s Congressional hearing in Washington, which examined the firm’s now infamous $6 billion loss known as the “London Whale.” The trade generated not only steep losses but a level of scrutiny from regulators and the media that has had JP Morgan’s management on the hoof for months.

Friday’s hearing was brutal for JPM’s top brass. The list of accusations by the Senate’s Permanent Sub Committee on Investigations was simple enough: a risky proprietary trading strategy, concealing losses, manipulating pricing models, and lying to investors and regulators. Anything else? Actually, yes; the fallout continues as Senate aides are now pondering referrals to regulators and the Justice Department. This was a bad day for JP Morgan, and a very good day for the Senate’s PR machine.

Despite a parade of embarrassing and contradictory testimony, the thrust of JP Morgan’s response remains unchanged: “Management always said what they believed to be true at the time, period. In hindsight we discovered some of the information they had was wrong.” Fair enough, but unlikely to break the momentum on a train wreck of an issue that continues to gain momentum.

THE PR VERDICT: “C” (Distinctly OK) for JP Morgan. A straightforward and expected defense, though it’s unlikely to make much of a difference.

THE PR TAKEAWAY: Life is not always fair. Despite its clout, JP Morgan was always going to be outgunned in a public hearing concerning its embarrassing  losses. The bad news for the firm is that there is little that can be said to disrupt the forward movement on this issue, apart from what they’ve already said. Admitting you got it wrong may not be enough in an environment that continues to be out of love with banks. It will take more critical and remedial changes in management and strategy before the heat is turned down. Until then, another round, please…

Poisonous PR Sound Bites of 2012

Who gave the most disastrous sound bite of 2012? While  the snappy, clever phrase is the dream of every publicist and journalist, life doesn’t always go along with the plan. As we look back at the year in PR and media, we present four of the deadliest quotes of 2012. In each case, silence would have been golden.

2013 romney 150x150 Poisonous PR Sound Bites of 2012Mitt Romney and the now notorious “47 percent. Filmed secretly at a fundraiser, the Presidential candidate gave the nuclear sound bite that boomeranged back. Whatever the context, the media wouldn’t let anyone forget that Romney was referring to a very substantial part of the electorate. From then on, it was an uphill PR climb for Romney, his campaign permanently on the defensive until its conclusion. What a difference a percentage can make!

 

 Poisonous PR Sound Bites of 2012Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan Chase, for his reference to a trading loss he airily dismissed as a “tempest in a teacup.” As the losses continued and wiped $14 billion off the market value of JPMorgan, his bravado seemed increasingly misplaced.

 

 

2013 bobdiamond 150x150 Poisonous PR Sound Bites of 2012Then again, it’s a tough call between Jamie Dimon and Bob Diamond, CEO Of UK banking giant Barclays. Speaking at a Parliamentary enquiry into Liborgate, Bob Diamond proclaimed, “The time for apologies is over.” But as the LIBOR scandal continues to claim more scalps, including his own, and fresh allegations of money laundering and sanction-breaking by some of the worlds biggest banks emerges, Diamond’s words now seem laughably misjudged. In the public mind, the time for apologies has just begun.

 

2013toddakin 150x150 Poisonous PR Sound Bites of 2012Todd Aikin and “Legitimate rape.” A sound bite that will survive way beyond the 2012 election, this phrase was regrettably coined by Akin, a Republican member of Congress and long time anti-abortion advocate. In an interview, he claimed that victims of what he described as “legitimate rape” rarely become pregnant as the “female body has ways to try to shut down that whole thing down.” Bipartisan jaws dropped in unison, and an entirely predictable firestorm ensued. Akin backpedalled, apologized, and sought to explain. “Out of context” was his initial defense, “a poor choice of words” came later, but the damage was done. He ultimately lost his seat and remains partly blamed for helping move electoral sentiment in the opposing direction.

 

 

 

The PRV Report Card: This Week’s Winners & Losers

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & LosersPR WINNER OF THE WEEK: “A” (GOLD STAR!) TO: Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase. Nothing beats a ringing endorsement, and Warren Buffet threw his PR weight behind Dimon by recommending him as Secretary of Treasury when Tim Geithner finally hangs up his boots. For Dimon, whose halo has arguably faded over the last 12 months, this was a shot in the arm for an unofficial campaign that still has him denying he wants the job anyway. As an outspoken banker against regulation, Dimon’s PR image has also endured the recent fracas of the London Whale losses and headlines relating to  manipulation of the energy market. However, Saint Warren’s benediction minimizes those sins. A smart move in what might be a long running campaign.

 

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & LosersPR LOSER OF THE WEEK: “F” (FULL FIASCO) TO: Susan Rice. The UN Ambassador likely has grill marks on her suit from the intense inquisition–er, questioning being administered by John McCain and Lindsey Graham in a bid to stop her nomination as Secretary of State. At issue: What Rice knew, when she knew it, and if she even knew anything at all about the attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Libya. Rice is currently being forced into a game of who-said-what with the CIA. The Administration gets an “F”  for failing to characterise this entire issue as an operational failure and instead allowing its opponents to claim it as a policy issue.  If Rice does ultimately get the job, monitoring warring nations will seem a comparative piece of cake.

 

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & LosersTHE PRV “THERE’S NO ‘THERE’ THERE” AWARD TO: Gennifer Flowers. The former model and actress who said she had a long-term affair with Bill Clinton in 1992 was recently consulted by an ABC affiliate for comment on the David Petraeus affair (because…she’s an expert on politicians’ dalliances?). During the interview, Flowers took full credit for Clinton’s presidential nomination, saying that her damning press conference “made him a household name overnight.” Good to know at last how he really ascended to the presidency.

When “No Comment” Says Too Much

 When No Comment Says Too Much

The PR Verdict: “C” (Distinctly OK) for Ina Drew and her PR.

What happens to your PR profile when you are held publicly responsible for a headline trading loss of over $6 billion? That must have been the question Ina Drew asked herself as she read her cover story profile in this weekend’s edition of The New York Times Magazine. The former Chief Investment Officer of JP Morgan Chase, who lost the eye-popping number on a sour trade called the “London Whale,” was amusingly headlined “Swallowed by the London Whale.”

The lengthy profile was what one might have expected. The first half was dedicated to tracing Ina’s stellar rise: She was tough, driven, analytical, and well-versed not only in the markets but also internal politics and turf warfare. The second half of the story details how it all unraveled as the losses mounted.

While Drew didn’t comment, plenty of others did. Those more closely connected to the disastrous trade stayed in the background, identifying themselves only as “sources close to the bank.” But Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, went public after the dust started to settle, acknowledging Drew’s “incredible contributions “ to the firm. At this point, couldn’t Drew have said a word or two?

The PR Verdict: “C” (Distinctly OK) for Ina Drew and her PR strategy. Just one on-the-record quote might have changed the article’s tone.

The PR Takeaway: Silence is not always golden. This profile has it all: money, success, and a colossal fall from grace by the tough trader who, moments prior to resigning, was walking the halls of JP Morgan, pale, gaunt, and with smudged mascara. Despite ongoing and innumerable legal complications, Ina Drew might have served her own PR well by reiterating that while regulators continue to review the matter, she is prohibited from commenting and that she resigned because it was the appropriate thing to do. If  your CEO is publicly positive about your contribution, far better to put yourself in the driver’s seat and acknowledge that you are assisting with inquires and exited with grace, rather than give the impression you have slunk off into the sunset with your tail between your legs.

Was Ina Drew’s silence golden or damning? Give us your PR Verdict!

To read the article click here.

 

JP Morgan: We Told You So

told you so JP Morgan: We Told You So

The PR Verdict: “A” for CtW - "We told you so."

“We told you so “ seems to be the key message from the CtW Investment Group to JP Morgan.  CtW, a shareholder representing union funds, claims it was concerned over 12 months ago at what it saw as “lax and out dated” risk management controls at JP Morgan.  Those concerns were laid out to senior management. But then, oops, a year later, the storied financial institution announced a trading loss of over $2 billion and a market value drop of more than $25 billion.

CtW wins the PR prize. The Executive Director of the group told the NY Times that it had expressed its concerns to a JPM board member and the former Chief Risk Officer.  The main complaint?  That the three-person board responsible for monitoring overall risk lacked the necessary expertise to oversee the function.

CtW says that ultimately the problem reflected an overall unhealthy deference to CEO Jamie Dimon and his Chief Risk Officer.  With this sentiment resonating with pundits, it seems the party is well and truly over for banking’s favorite CEO.

The PR Verdict:  “A” (Gold Star!) for CtW, punching above its weight. By saying “we told you so” they look like the smartest ones in the room.

PR Takeaway:  Capitalize on every PR opportunity.  By coming out with these revelations now, CtW claims the upper hand and grabs the PR advantage.  Describing JP Morgan as having an “old fashioned model of governance”,  CtW legitimately puts itself at the forefront of the reforms JP Morgan will be announcing.  While it’s an uncomfortable place for JP Morgan, it’s a great place for CtW and its public profile.

To read more, click here.

 

 

Oops We Did It Again…Jamie Dimon and JP Morgan Chase

JAMieDIMON2 Oops We Did It Again...Jamie Dimon and JP Morgan Chase

The PR Verdict: “B” for JP Morgan Chase and Jamie Dimon.

How do you say sorry for losing $2 billion?  Jamie Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan Chase seems to have got it right.  With a remorseful mea culpa, he announced last week a blow-out trading loss from credit derivatives.  From one of the banks  least scathed by the 2008 financial crisis, JPM’s surprise market malfunction was announced with aplomb.

The previously revered Jamie Dimon and his firm blamed the losses on “errors, sloppiness and bad judgment” and ominously warned, “it could get worse”.   Was this the same issue that had been raised in April but Dimon then dismissed as “tempest in a teacup”?  In a TV interview he said he was “dead wrong” to have dismissed earlier concerns.

In PR terms, so far so good but now the tough part.  For the CEO who has been the industry spokesperson against regulation and in particular trading restrictions proposed by the Volcker Rule, future lobbying efforts will now be muzzled (or at least should be).  Having cavalierly dismissed the notion of “too big to fail” as “non factual” he has at least temporarily, lost the PR right to belittle proposed oversight rules and restrictions.

The PR Verdict: “B” for JP Morgan Chase and Jamie Dimon.  From an industry that has lost its halo, the PR strategy to explain an “oops we did it again” $2 billion loss was well handled.  The challenge is what to say next.

PR Takeaway: No one likes a smarty pants.  Sunday’s NYTimes quoted a recent dinner in Dallas where Dimon was talking to valued clients about the much-discussed Volcker rule and its restrictions.  Dimon, allegedly imperious and heavy-handed, dismissed the debate as “infantile”.  He now needs to take a more humble and conciliatory tone.  With an uncapped trading loss of $2 billion dollars, the assumption that he and the industry know best, has well and truly hit the skids.

To read more click here.

What’s your PR Verdict?

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