Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Smart PR: When You're Bailed Out By Taxpayers, Nix the Partying

Adam Bradbury of Dow Jones Newswires reports that "Citigroup has canceled a Christmas party for London-based staff in its fixed-income division because senior executives in the group decided it would be inappropriate amid ongoing layoffs, a person familiar with the matter said Tuesday.

The cancellation comes after Citigroup announced in November that it plans to shed 52,000 staff worldwide and reduce expenses by 20% in an attempt to weather the global financial crisis and a sharp economic downturn.

It also comes after the bank canned an equities division party, which was due to be held Dec. 3 at London's Cafe de Paris for the same reason.

The fixed-income party was due to be held Dec. 11 at Paper, an exclusive nightclub on Regent Street, in the West End of London, which boasts of a range of celebrity guests such as world champion Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton and actress Keira Knightley.

The event was going to be paid for by the managing directors in the bank's fixed-income division, which include the interest rates, foreign exchange and commodities businesses, the person said.

"It was obviously a commitment made a long time ago," said the person familiar with the matter. "Given that (Citigroup) is letting so many people go, the managing directors didn't feel it was right to host a big party for those who are staying so they decided to cancel it."

The Sauce

Good thinking. Bernays Sauce is all for celebrating the season (contact these guys!)--especially in depressing times such as these. However, if a company is laying off thousands and are the recipient of taxpayer largess to bail them out of poor business decisions, then perhaps they need to put down that egg nog and back away...quickly.

It's a no-brainer, but as big corporations have proven lately (see AIG, GM, Ford, etc.) public image is not always a serious consideration, even when they go hat in hand to the people for a rescue.

Disclosure: The writer of this post owns a miniscule amount of stock in Citigroup. Stop laughing.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A very smart and necessary move. In addition to the public perception issues, companies must be sensitive to the employee mood during tough financial times. Spending extravagantly on parties, etc. just irritates them. Frankly, many employees would prefer a few extra hours off to spend with family during the holidays rather than a lavish holiday party.