News that Slater & Gordon is planning a judicial review of UK banks’ swaps redress scheme generated headlines this week. Ralph Savage and Elina Miezite discuss what PR advantage the firm may have gained with this aggressive move.
It’s a common practice for business loan mis-selling specialists to seek out press coverage by providing expert commentary to the media.
But this kind of ‘single issue publicity’ creates an environment of almost constant competition on who makes it first to provide a comment, never letting any one firm dominate the news agenda.
Unlike Payment Protection Insurance mis-selling, which affected millions of consumers, business loan mis-selling is a problem for a relative handful of firms. Estimates suggest just 9000 have been affected but individual claims are typically valued in six figures, with advisors able to charges around 30% from settlements meaning it’s a highly lucrative market.However the legal weapon that is judicial review and S&G’s teaming up with key pressure group Bully Banks, may have just given its profile the boost it needs to help it maintain a position as one of the leading players in a congested market.
The announcement of judicial review first appeared on Reuters on Wednesday morning and later on the Daily Mail. The Herald Scotland also gave it a nudge in a move reflecting the activity of Clydesdale Bank, one of the mis-selling scandal’s worst proponents.
Whilst the potential exposure of this story could reach millions, the firm doesn’t seem to have gone all out to let its potential customers outside The Bully Banks group know. The JR story didn’t appear in The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian or the Times, which have all covered the topic extensively; the latter in particular has broken a number of stories under the investigations of City Editor Harry Wilson.
Fraser Whitehead, head of Business and Litigation Services at Slater & Gordon, has been a regular commentator on the topic but in this instance appeared only to have provided a comment to Reuters with no sign of an announcement release on the firm’s website or elsewhere. This indicates that the story may in fact have been the result of an exclusive briefing to the reporter rather than any major announcement. Of course, threatening to launch a JR and actually bringing one to the Administrative Court are two very different things, but it appears this action has served to place one law firm ahead of its rivals for the time being at least.
A business journalist by trade, Ralph Savage represents a series of B2B clients on media and marketing matters. He provides strategic PR advice, media training and consultancy. He also ghost writes regularly on behalf of FTSE 250 CEOs, leading counsel and senior professionals including solicitors, accountants and brokers.