This is the first in a series of blogs looking at the online media capabilities of various types of financial services provider and the first organisations I’m looking at are the Building Societies. I’m a big fan of the mutual sector, having worked for Nationwide Building Society in the past and I am fully behind the concept of putting members’ interests above shareholders. However, it is disappointing to see that Building Societies fall short when it comes to online media centres and using their website to communicate with journalists.
For this blog I analysed the websites of all 56 Building Society brands, even though recent mergers mean that strictly speaking there are only now 49 Building Societies. The results were quite eye-opening and I imagine if I were a journalist looking for information on these organisations I might have to work quite hard to get it.
48 of the 56 Building Societies provided links to news about their organisation. That’s 86% but it really should be 100%. Every organisation has news of some sort or another, even the tiniest Building Society with a handful or branches. At the very least, they should showcase their community involvement.
Next up, I looked at the availability of contact details for PR contacts. This is where things start to go downhill for Building Societies, because just 30 of them (54%) listed a phone number for a journalist to call. Of course, I understand that only the larger Societies have dedicated PR people, with Nationwide the only one to have a press office of a significant size. However, there should be someone, potentially the Sales & Marketing Director or the CEO who should be listed. Likewise, email contact details were slightly worse, with 29 Societies (52%) listing them.
Finally, I looked at social media capabilities and, frankly, this is laughable. Building Societies have a strong role to play in their communities and now is a good time to promote the mutual model. Creating and taking part in communities is important online as it is offline so Building Societies should recognise that. Just four Societies are involved in social media at all, that’s a lowly 7%. Respect is due to Saffron Building Society for their blog, facebook page and twitter feed. Well done also to Ipswich Building Society for their twitter feed and Hanley Economic for their CEO blog. I guess Stroud & Swindon should also get a mention because they make limited use of social bookmarking tools on the site.
Overall, the sector could do a lot better without too much more effort. Nationwide Building Society in particular needs to get to grips with social media and quickly because it sets an example for the rest. Come on guys, you can’t ignore it any longer!Read More