For anyone who saw the Tweets about protesters in New York being arrested in Citibank, you’d have been forgiven for thinking it was yet another horrible corporate blunder about to play out, painfully across millions of screens. One popular Tweet read “In the stupidest public relations move in history, #Citibank had customer arrested for closing their accounts”.
Frank Eliason, SVP of Social Media at Citi was about to speak at #Pivotcon in New York as the story unfolded. Now, speaking to an audience of highly connected social media types is a PR minefield at the best of times – but just as a social media storm is breaking?! Lesser men would have crumbled.
But Frank – who I’m going to be interviewing on stage at Social CRM 2011 NYC in 2 week’s time (see below) – has a commitment to openness unlike anyone else in corporate America. Having made Comcast a household name for customer care, he states that his role at Citi is to create “a lifetime of trust” between the brand and it’s customers. Openness is the key to his continued success.
So when Frank rose to speak at #Pivotcon and began by playing video footage of the protesters being arrested in Citibank, there were gasps and astonished looks all round. Yet when he quickly followed it up with more footage, showing the protesters, not quietly asking to close their accounts, but holding a highly-charged and vocal demonstration in the bank, people the room understood.
There’s a clear and telling moral to this short social media PR story. If you’re in the right – openness is always the best option. And if you’re in the wrong: openness is always the best option!.
Join me for my discussion with Frank Eliason (Citi) at Social CRM 2011 New York at Tribeca Cinemas on 3rd Nov. Other speakers include Jon Bird (American Airlines) and Dr Natalie Petouhoff.