Bye bye Sky Bank & hello…

Huntington

Opening a bank account for the first time can be a scary thing. I remember waiting to open an account until I was loaded down with high school graduation money. Now or never was my attitude. I made the trip down to the local Sky Bank and became an adult. The bank employees were courteous and friendly, helping to ease my childhood fears of handing over all the money I had to my name. I thank Sky Bank for making my first experience so smooth and trouble-free.

Recently though, I had to say goodbye to my beloved Sky Bank as Huntington Bancshares Incorporated took over all operations and locations in Ohio. Huntington and Sky merged in July, with all accounts converted to Huntington services on Sept. 24. Huntington, headquartered in Columbus, employs 650 people in the Greater Akron Canton Region.

It came as somewhat of a shock to me when one day I received a letter in the mail notifying me of the merge. I didn’t think much of it until I received about six different pieces of mail from Huntington within the next two weeks. Let me tell you, receiving thick packet after thick packet from the bank is somewhat annoying when you have 20 other things going on in your life to worry about. Little did I know at the time though, just how handy those darn packets would turn out to be. After receiving my new green ATM card, I sadly watched as my old Sky Bank ATM card, covered with a blue sky and clouds, went through the shredder never to be used again.

Although most people in the town where I live were reluctant to change theirHuntington bank location ways, I have to give Huntington credit for keeping its soon-to-be customers informed. Not knowing much about Huntington at the time, the information sent to bank customers turned out to hold every piece of valuable information needed to understand the upcoming changes. More than enough notice was given to customers and this transition time period allowed customers to contact the bank with any questions or concerns.

Huntington, currently the 24th largest bank in the U.S. based on its assets according to the Akron Beacon Journal, received five excellence awards for its business practices in 2007. Huntington used effective public relations methods of informing its new customers and reassuring its competency as a banking provider.

Aside from the various mailing packets sent out to customers, Huntington also ran a television campaign announcing the merge. The short and friendly ads emphasized the company’s main goal of being “a bank invested in people.” The company utilized its trademark green color to create a hospitable and Rolling out the green carpetmemorable message in its television commercials. The company rolled out the green carpet to its new customers and left a good impression in the minds of anyone who saw them. This bank reinforces the idea that it strives to put the customers’ needs first through its communications. The bank’s main Web site also answered general questions about the company and the merge, which provided customers with yet another means of communication and reassurance.

The numerous mailings sent out, television ads, promotion of its accomplishments and having general information widely available and accessible to customers helped Huntington make a smooth transition with its customers and made customers feel welcomed and secure. I mean, how else do you want to feel when your life savings are in the hands of someone else?

Photos courtesy of ADWIRED, Cleveland State University and Huntington National Bank.

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To blog or not to blog?

So you’re thinking, what can a blog do for me? Did I really just spend thousands of dollars to attend college, only to learn that the growing trend in public relations is the social media phenomenon that I’m a part of everyday to begin with? And to think, some good may just comes from the hours spent networking on social Web sites every week!

Blogging is here and it’s here to stay. The importance of blogs continues to rise because blogs work. Period.

Blogs are effective and inexpensive to create and maintain. Blogs allowBlog the blog professionals to choose who creates, monitors and posts on the company’s or organization’s page. These specialists tailor their blog atmosphere to the targeted audience in order to reach their goals in the quickest and most efficient manner.

Companies are quickly catching onto this growing trend and realizing the value and impact of taking part in it. Robert Scoble’s blog, Scobleizer, is a very effective and popular blog. He utilized his blog while a Microsoft employee and acquired major influence in the market after establishing a fresh and somewhat controversial blog. He promoted Microsoft products, yet he also criticized the company and praised competitors such as Google and Apple Computer.

Scobel shows how blogs are also useful when communicating within an organization. He was involved with producing videos that showcased Microsoft products and employees. These intranets are also used by Intel and The Walt Disney Company.

The Wall Street Journal states how a regularly updated blog can help a business establish itself. In a growing society, where leaving your mark takes hard work, the use of easy to maintain and inexpensive tactics are the only way to go.

One tip all public relations newbies should receive is DO YOUR RESEARCH! Blogger Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of Wired Magazine, called out numerous public relations professionals after receiving bad pitch after bad pitch in late October.

To blog or not to blogAlthough the backlash is still taking place from that blow-up, all PR professionals should take away the helpful tips Todd Defren provided on his blog PR-Squared. A little help never hurt anyone.

So blog away PR people and reap the benefits! And who would have thought the generation obsessed with Facebook and MySpace would have the power to move so many markets in a new direction!

Photos courtesy of Conversations with Dina and Base 10 Web Solutions Inc.

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