Public relations gaffes can take many forms, with some of the most damaging those that are internally focused but which get leaked and end up giving a really bad impression to the outside world.

One of Europe’s largest banking and financial groups, the Royal Bank of Scotland, has just managed to pitch itself headlong into just such a PR disaster.

By effectively issuing an ultimatum to all staff across the group that they must have their primary bank account with the firm or face disciplinary action, RBS has managed to alienate many of its own staff and send all the wrong kinds of signals to existing customers, potential customers and the public at large.

The group maintains it is merely acting in line with the entire sector. But such a justification, at this stage, is irrelevant.

The involvement of the Amicus union and now the media ensures this story is all about RBS and what appears to be a heavy-handed approach it adopts towards its employees.

No-one cares whether this is the true for other companies in the sector. The focus is entirely on RBS and the way in which it has handled this particular issue.

The RBS group has grown significantly in the last decade, but has fallen into the trap of so many large organisations. Whether it is true or not, in the eyes of so many people now it has become an unfriendly, corporate behemoth displaying a callous disregard for its own staff – which begs the question how well does it treat customers?

There is much ground for RBS to make up now and all for the sake of a more carefully worded memo.

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