How to Avoid #AskJPM and Other PR Nightmares

by Derek Loosvelt | December 05, 2013

A few weeks ago, JPMorgan’s supposedly harmless Twitter exercise #AskJPM—in which the bank invited Twitter users to pose career-related questions to JPMorgan Vice Chairman James B. Lee Jr.—quickly backfired, and instead of asking Lee Jr. questions, the Twittersphere took the opportunity to tell JPMorgan and its management team what they really thought of them. Tweets like the following were posted (with the #AskJPM hashtag) by the hundreds: “What's your favorite type of whale?”; “Do you feel bad about systematically undermining democracy? Do you know what fiduciary duty is?”; and “I have Mortgage Fraud, Market Manipulation, Credit Card Abuse, Libor Rigging and Predatory Lending AM I DIVERSIFIED?”

It didn’t take long for JPMorgan to discontinue the Twitter Q&A, but not before it became clear the bank had severely underestimated the public’s outrage with its recent illegal actions (which to date has cost the firm more than $13 billion in fines, not to mention immeasurable prestige and a large chunk of its remaining reputation). It also became clear that #AskJPM was one of the all-time great corporate PR disasters and that the bank’s PR department obviously didn’t perform its due diligence before rolling out the Q&A.

And, to that end, to any other prestigious employers of business-minded undergrads and MBAs considering undertaking a similar type of PR exercise, I’d like to recommend a quick and easy (and free!) way to gauge public opinion. It was recently used by Bloomberg BusinessWeek to gauge public opinion about the 50 U.S. states, and I think it would work equally as well for the country’s top employers. The way it works is this: if you want to gauge public opinion about JPMorgan, for example, all you have to do is Google “Is JPMorgan” and Google’s autocomplete function will display the top four results—which are the most popular questions that Google users are posing about the firm via Google and which will give you a pretty good idea what the public thinks of the firm.

And if that’s not clear enough, I went ahead and performed this research on several employers myself. My findings are as follows:

McKinsey & Co.:
Is McKinsey worth it?
Is McKinsey evil? [I wonder how Mr. Gupta will enjoy Otisville Correctional.]
Is McKinsey publicly traded?
Is McKinsey a good company to work for?

Bain & Company:
Is Bain and Company public?
Is Bain a good company to work for?
Is Bain Capital a Mormon company? [Thanks, Mitt.]
What is Bain and Company?

The Boston Consulting Group:
Is Boston Consulting Group a good place to work?
Is Boston Consulting Group hiring?
Is Boston Consulting Group public?
What is [the] Boston Consulting Group matrix?

Google:
Is Google making us stupid?
Is Google voice free?
Is Google down?
Is Google a number?

Facebook:
Is Facebook down?
Is Facebook making us lonely?
Is Facebook dying?
Is Facebook a buy?

Twitter:
Is Twitter down?
Is Twitter profitable?
Is Twitter going public? [Going, going, gone.]
Is Twitter free?

Apple Inc.:
Is Apple Inc. a Fortune 500 company?
Is Apple Inc. growing?
Is Apple Inc. a monopoly?
Is Apple Inc. a monopoly or oligopoly? [Apple PR people take note.]

Goldman Sachs:
Is Goldman Sachs a public company?
Is Goldman Sachs a bank?
Is Goldman Sachs going soft? [How do you think that Saturdays-off policy's working out?]
Is Goldman Sachs a good company?

JPMorgan:
Is JPMorgan a whale of a value?
Is JPMorgan in trouble?
Is JPMorgan a bank?
Is JPMorgan a good place to work?

Morgan Stanley:
Is Morgan Stanley a bank?
Is Morgan Stanley a good place to work?
Is Morgan Stanley the same as JPMorgan? [Note to Marketing: brand-image issues.]
Is Morgan Stanley closed on Columbus Day?

The Blackstone Group:
Is Blackstone a good investment?
Is Blackstone a hedge fund?
Is Blackstone merlot gluten free? [According to the firm (Blackstone Winery): "We do not test our products for gluten. However, to our knowledge, they do not contain it."]
Is Blackstone selling Hilton? [No, but it is taking Hilton public and will likely double its investment in the hotel chain.]

In addition, I did a little extra research on the most prominent CEOs on Wall Street. The results were enlightening, and so I also present them here:

Lloyd Blankfein (Goldman Sachs CEO):
Is Lloyd Blankfein evil?
Is Lloyd Blankfein a democrat?
Is Lloyd Blankfein a billionaire?
Is Lloyd Blankfein a psycopath? [PR red flag!]

Jamie Dimon (JPMorgan Chase CEO):
Is Jamie Dimon Greek? [Indeed, he is.]
Is Jamie Dimon leaving Chase?
Is Jamie Dimon a good CEO?
Is Jamie Dimon a crook?

Follow me @VaultFinance.

Read More:
After Twitter #Fail, JPMorgan Calls Off Q. and A. (DealBook)
Chase's Twitter Gambit Devolves into All-Time PR Fiasco (Rolling Stone)
#AskJPM tweets performed by Steacy Keach (YouTube)
The United States of Google: An Autocomplete Atlas (BloombergBusinessweek)
Why Goldman Sachs’ New Saturdays-Off Policy Won't Work

Filed Under: Workplace Issues


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