Businesses of all sizes need communication to build relationships with customers and clients to succeed. In the banking industry, PR plays a huge role.  Some people may think that banking is all about numbers, and it is, but communication is one of the most essential components of this industry.  As a Branch Supervisor, I’ve seen how PR contributes to the day-to-day success of our bank. Below are three ways.

Relationship Building

According to the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), PR “is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”  That is PR 101, building relationships with stakeholders.    As someone who works in the banking industry, I consider myself a PR spokesperson since I am one of the faces new and existing customers see when they walk through the doors of Dedham Savings.  I am constantly building relationships with my customers and bringing in new business by displaying superb customer service. Trust and friendliness are essential when welcoming customers through the doors as it’s the foundation of building strong relationships.  For example, at Dedham Savings, the retail staff takes the time to get to know our customers.  Many times, I have had people tell me that they love banking with us because they are treated as human beings and not as numbers as they are at bigger banks.  That is how the bank brands itself and differs itself from competitors.

Corporate Social Responsibility & Community Relations

Many banks take corporate social responsibility (CSR) and community relations seriously. In a LinkedIn article, Alexander Izryadnov says  CSR and community relations are more than just writing checks and advises that banks must connect “with their local communities through volunteerism, educational initiatives, and alliances with charitable organizations.”  For example, Dedham Savings always gives back to its community through charitable donations and community involvement such as attending the Town of Sharon’s Trunk or Treat Event. Attending events illustrates to the community that the bank cares about the community it operates in, and it also gets the bank’s name out there in hopes of bringing in more business.

Trust and Transparency

Moreover, customers want to trust the bank that holds their hard-earned money. Alexander Izryadnov mentions that a crisis can occur at a bank and that it is essential to be transparent with customers since information is easily accessed by smartphones.  Earlier in the year, Silicon Valley Bank collapsed, and it did get people worrying that other banks could go under, too.  Dedham Savings saw an influx of new customers asking about the bank’s health and if their money would be safe if they opened an account.    Our existing customers were also asking about the bank’s financial stability.  We told our customers that Dedham Savings is not in danger and that the bank carries two insurances: Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), which covers up to $250,000.00, and Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF), which will cover the remaining balances after FDIC.  Mentioning these insurances calmed customers, and they were glad we took their concerns seriously.

Further, internal stakeholders (employees) need trust and transparency, too.  When the financial crisis was happening, Peter Brown, the CEO of Dedham Savings, sat all employees down for a town hall-style meeting and said that Dedham Savings’ Holding Company, named 1831 Bancorp, MHC, would be merging with South Shore Bank’s Holding Company, named South Shore Bancorp, MHC.   He took the time to answer employees’ questions and reiterated throughout the meeting that Dedham Savings and South Shore Bank were only merging at the holding company level, not at the local banking level.

Another part of trust is disseminating information and ensuring external and internal stakeholders understand what is happening.  Dedham Savings prepared very well for the news of the holding companies merging into one and gave us talking points for customers inquiring about this merger.  A Catalyst PR blog mentions that during mergers, “PR can help to disseminate information about the change and put its customers at ease. It also works as an effective tool to help publicize the facts and prevent misunderstandings.”  That’s exactly what Dedham Savings sought to do.