Maybe too late for Northern Rock


What end is in sight for Northern Rock, the beleaguered financial institution whose customers simply don’t believe any reassurance that the bank is not in deep financial trouble?

The media is full of reports and images of thousands of people lining up outside offices throughout the UK trying to get their money out. Latest reports say over £2 billion has left the bank since Thursday night.

While confidence in the bank has clearly taken a massive dive since Friday – just one working day ago – the share price movement graph above, taken from the London Stock Exchange site about 20 minutes ago, clearly shows a consistent downward trend over the past three months.

Nearly 40% of the share value has been wiped out since Friday.

Talk about a crisis.

Is this symptomatic of a broad lack of trust in our institutions and our politicians? Is it reflective of reactions to what you see and hear in the media in a sort of super-fast word of mouth way, where you make your own quick decisions to get out as fast as you can?

And what role has communication played in all of this? I’m not going to second-guess the bank’s equally-beleaguered communication teams. But it does seem to me that effective communication has been lacking since this crisis really erupted just a few days ago.

From an online communication point of view, it looks as though the bank were caught flat-footed in underestimating that one of the first places people would go to for information would be the bank’s websites.

I’m not a customer of this bank but I have been looking in on their websites – the customer one as well as the corporate one – since last week. Too many times, I could not connect to any website. When I did, there was little commentary about what’s going on, certainly doubtful whether it would reassure anyone.

It wasn’t until late Sunday that a letter from CEO Adam Applegarth appeared on the customer site.

Maybe too little, too late.

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.