Preserving Five Star Bank’s Reputation
While no one likes to discuss crises, managing them ethically and efficiently is essential to good operations. When Five Star Bank suddenly found itself under scrutiny by the New York State’s Office of the Attorney General for alleged red lining related to mortgage lending, it turned to longtime partner McDougall to assist in swift resolution and minimal reputation impact.
McDougall’s work encompassed not only messaging, executive training and content development—over Christmas week—but also strategic counsel relating to likely actions by the AG’s office. Agency-led research indicated it may possibly break from promises relating to how a settlement would be announced, i.e., ambushing Five Star by leaking news days before the news was to go public.
With McDougall having found pre-recorded inflammatory statements by the AG on a hidden YouTube channel, as well as discovering a pending, embargoed Associated Press story, the firm recommended a shift to breaking the news itself as quickly as possible on Five Star’s terms.
The result was minimal, local-only news coverage contained to a 24-hour cycle. Unlike with prior AG-led settlements, the story created almost zero online and social media interest, and sentiment was balanced, especially with Five Star’s message of responsibility and resolution leading the way. Likewise, there was almost zero impact to reputation among customers, elected and regulatory officials, and communities of color. By acting quickly, intelligently and transparently, Five Star came through with praise for its actions.