Bank PR takes a hit in foreclosure fiasco

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Banks have not distinguished themselves from a media relations point of view in the foreclosure crisis so far. The problem seems to be some non-circumspect language used with reporters.

Bank of America (NYSE: BAC) offers a prime example. Initially, it insisted "that it had not found a single example where a foreclosure proceeding was brought in error." But the media was only too happy to point to several cases, where there had indeed been some wrongful foreclosures, including at least one where the homeowner didn't even have a mortgage.

Similarly, Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC) defended its foreclosure processes, even as its competitors halted their foreclosures. But this week Wells Fargo was humbled when it had to fess up to some flaws in its documents.

The problem from a PR standpoint is obvious. You do not want to put your executives in a position where they say something definitive-sounding only to have to backtrack later. The result is that executives undermine their credibility and look wishy-washy. Reporters hate bland language, but sometimes it is entirely appropriate.

For more:
- here's an article on Wells Fargo by the Washington Post

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