Citigroup : Cancelling the revolution
Serious neglect turns a great piece of reassuring PR into a shot in the foot.
Citigroup, the US-based global financial services company, has a large Corporate Citizenship section on its website that is always accessible from its two-tier universal navigation bar.
Social Responsibility, one of Corporate Citizenship’s 17 sub-sections, includes a Citigroup Initiatives Timeline to illustrate how the company has “led the financial industry with an aggressive effort to raise business practices and standards and enhance corporate governance…. from May 2002 to the present”. Beginning with May 21, 2002, bullet-point entries follow a chronological sequence down the page up to and including November 25, 2002.
In principle, Citigroup’s Initiatives Timeline is a great piece of reassuring public relations. In reality, its serious neglect in maintaining the feature has turned the opportunity into a shot in the foot.
Corporate Governance rocketed to the top of company agendas in the aftermath of the Enron collapse in late 2001 and has been a major preoccupation of executives, investors, legislators and customers ever since. The evidence is particularly clear on US company websites, where the topic often has a section or sub-section dedicated to it. So using a feature such as a timeline to demonstrate your early adoption and development of high standards of conduct should be a constructive piece of online PR.
But by giving a bullish introduction to the feature and then neglecting it for two-and-a-half years, Citigroup turns the intended impression on its head. Far from appearing as a champion of progress, it gives the impression that its attention has wandered as the initial stimulus has faded. As with other features on a site, if you cannot find the resources to maintain them, it may be better to switch them off – or not go ahead in the first place.http://www.citigroup.com
First published on 03 May, 2005