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How to Improve Public Relations with Your Banker
How Can Public Relations with Banks Be Improved?
How many of us have a superb and effective working relationship with our banks and bankers? The past several years have made this challenge even more difficult, especially for small business owners. This undesirable situation can be improved, but it might require an "outside the box" approach to be successful.
By applying a public relations strategy to the effort, you will be better prepared. Are you ready to improve public relations with your banker?
If it helps, think of yourself (or someone who is helping you do this) as your own personal lobbyist attempting to get better treatment from the bank(s) and banker(s). After all, the banks are pros at using public relations on their own behalf. Shouldn't you return the favor?
The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said.— Peter Drucker
Three Practical Steps: Reading, Writing and Negotiating
Here are three realistic solutions and answers to the question:
How Can Public Relations with Banks and Bankers Be Improved?
Public relations and communicating require some skills that many of us might not have. This is not a permanent condition, and selective reading of specific books can help to alleviate the condition. Reading can involve more than the form of books and publications. Don’t overlook concise videos and SlideShare presentations in your efforts to learn more about business communication.
Writing is also an acquired skill. It is apparent that the nature of business writing has changed dramatically during the past 25 years. However, the importance of effective business writing has remained at a high level. Writing effectively to your banks and bankers will usually prove to have a timely, positive and long-lasting impact on the day-to-day working relationship with your bank.
Many individuals do not like negotiating, and this feeling is often even stronger when it comes to negotiations with their bank. Meanwhile most banking institutions are already well-equipped to handle the negotiating process. This is a case of needing to level the playing field, and you might need expert help.
Don't fire your banker without trying these strategies first.
What Do You Do When Banks Refuse to Talk?
This Bank Threatened to Arrest Customers That Wanted to Negotiate
You might think the above video represents a far-fetched (true) story about a bank threatening to arrest customers simply trying to negotiate in good faith. Unfortunately, there are many "bad banks" — it is often difficult to find the few good ones. For example, I was personally involved in an incident with a different bank — Fifth Third Bank based in Ohio — that called the police and threatened arrest when we were attempting to simply pick up a check that represented our own funds held by the bank.
What should you do in cases like this? At a minimum, close your account immediately at any bank that treats you like the enemy — and never do business with them again. You should also share your negative experiences with friends, family and business colleagues so they are not also "blind-sided" by an unfriendly bank like the two just mentioned. Social media works very well because your circle of contacts will frequently share your story with their separate circles.
A Banking Public Relations Poll
Honk If You Love Your Banker
Before anyone decides to wage a public relations effort directed at their current or prospective bank, it might be appropriate to stop and contemplate the public relations energies exerted by banks and bank lobbyists to advance their own cause.
Have banks used public relations (including lobbyists) too much?
Reading, writing and negotiating are keys to improving public relations with your bank and banker.
Getting Past No with Your Banker
If you recall, my three recommendations for improving the working relationship with your banker are reading, writing and negotiating. It is easy to overlook the value of using yes and no properly in a world increasingly dominated by specialized technology and complicated phrases. This has apparently been the case for a long time. A well-known quote by Pythagoras refers to the difficulty of using the short words like yes and no.
The oldest, shortest words — “yes” and “no” — are those which require the most thought.— Pythagoras
Persuading Bankers and Investors: Improve Business Communication
"Getting past no is essential for negotiating and communicating."
One More Thing - What Is Plan B?
- If all else fails, firing your bank and banker is an option that must be considered as objectively as possible. Until the most recent banking crisis, this is an alternative that would not have been seriously entertained by many individuals and small business owners. But everything changed during the period starting around 2007 (and realistically well before that). As a result, banks and bankers are no longer the same and we all need to adjust how we view them now. Some of these banking relationships can be saved (and should be), but in many situations we should be prepared for the possibility of a last resort option that in some cases will involve firing your banker and bank.
"After a serious review of the challenges currently being confronted by smaller companies, it seems conceivable that the most helpful public relations tools are not traditional ones at all."
Business Negotiating Tips
Business owners repeatedly say that their most disliked activity involves negotiating with bankers.
Shorter Is Better with Proposals and Other Business Writing
Reading, writing and negotiating: Writing concisely and effectively is hard for anyone to do. Effective written communication is essential almost constantly in both business and other common life situations.
Even if you think of yourself as a superb writer, you should always be looking for ways to improve and excel even more. Improving business writing is a core strategy for improving public relations with bankers as well as clients, suppliers and investors. Being concise and effective at the same time should be your working goal with business writing such as proposals, case studies and press releases.
"Business writing to bankers can be effective in one page."
Is All of This Really Necessary?
Yes (Unless You Don't Deal with Banks)
I have been helping small businesses for several decades. During most of that time, I have worked with banks on behalf of small business owners. My diverse areas of specialization include negotiating, problem-solving, commercial financing, proposal writing and business training. As it turns out, these are all specialized skills needed to deal effectively with today's banks and bankers.
The severity of changes and problems in the banking industry has made my work much more difficult. I am constantly confronted by new and immense challenges. As noted, I have literally been doing this for decades, and I am eminently qualified to know a problem when I see one. I have also made it much of my life's work to prevent and solve problems. So this is me on my virtual knees begging you to realize that there are numerous complex obstacles and risks to be alert for when you are working with banking institutions on any level.
I am still worried about banks on a number of different levels. Yes, all of this is really necessary unless banks are not a part of your life and business.
The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.— Peter Drucker
© 2013 Stephen Bush