1st March, 2017, Sophy Buckley, Firstword Media
The launch of Comms for Good at Dimbleby Cancer Care’s base at the Cancer Centre at London’s Guy’s Hospital in March revealed a healthy appetite for collaboration and mutual support across the banking industry.
Over mini smoked-salmon bagels, pea and mint canapés and prosecco, banking veterans mingled with disrupters and fintechies, and all had an interesting take on how Comms for Good could pan out.
Comms for Good is a network of financial services sector comms leaders looking to amplify the good done every day by those in the banking and fintech industries. Founder Kate Bolton, formerly head of PR and communications at banking IT firm Temenos, gave a passionate speech detailing how by collaborating to promote each others’ “for good” programmes, the industry can magnify the benefits and create a virtuous circle of support and action. The more that join in, the more noise we make, the bigger the effect.
“Many companies have really great CSR [corporate social responsibility] programmes, and do a lot for the community, but their initiatives get very little attention. As a result, support internally isn’t as strong as it could be, and great work goes unrecognised,” she explained. “People love a good news story, and there are so many we could be telling, so I want us to work together to find and share them through the Comms for Good network. Imagine the impact we could have if we do this as an industry.”
Her message chimed with Janet Du Chenne, Editorial Director at Deutsche Bank, “Good causes make good stories,” she said. “Comms for Good is bringing communications experts together for good causes so they can tell those stories with a collective voice. This is perfect timing for an industry that needs more good stories.”
One HSBC member of staff who does a lot of community work is Andy Russell, head of sustainability, communications and marketing. He volunteers through the East London Business Alliance at a local school along with others from Barclays and Accenture. Each volunteer brings much needed skills in communications, strategy or perhaps training. “Comms for Good could act like a noticeboard,” he said at the launch. “It could draw people’s attention to things they could do to make a difference. Charities could present a suite of projects and we could pick one to support.”
Chris Gledhill, founder and CEO of tech start-up Secco, saw Comms for Good as a great way for banks to repay what he called their social debt after the 2008 crisis. “Banking is full of good people, but the reputation of the industry is poor. The idea that banking can be socially responsible is very powerful. It goes well beyond PR,” he said, adding that – with the UK a banking leader – the rest of the world looks to us and often follows. So Comms for Good could easily take off and go global.
Harriet Allner, communications manager at challenger start-up bank Starling, was equally enthusiastic. In a short speech she urged the audience to get on social media and persuade people to “do” and “put generosity back at the heart of communication” by “telling stories that inspire change”.
The message was a powerful one and certainly seemed to motivate the audience. The immediate beneficiary was Dimbleby Cancer Care, which was simultaneously promoting its Walk50, a 50km walk through London on June 9th. Just about everyone, including Janet Du Chenne of Deutsche Bank, Harriet Allner at Starling, Anna Bennett at Monitise, Jonathan Gifford of marketing firm Metia and Jon Scott of Thinking Loud & Clear, promised to sign up and recruit a team from work.
If their reaction is anything to go by, Comms for Good looks likely to fulfil its ambitions and maybe even achieve Chris Gledhill’s prediction about going global. Good work everyone.