Wainwright bank, the meeting
Apr 28, 2007

I'm sure some people are just dying to know how the meeting I was invited to with the co-President and co-Founder or Wainwright Bank, Robert Glassman, went. First off, two of the other bloggers who where there, Shai Sachs of Progressive Democrats of Cambridge and Joseph Porcelli of Neighbors for Neighbors, have already written up some excellent posts about it, and you can probably expect to see more in the near future from Jessi as well as maybe over at Cos's blog, Sam Seidel's blog, or Anali's First Amendment. But for now, here's my take on it. First off, the premise of the meeting was to discuss how Wainwright Bank as a whole and, perhaps, Mr. Glassman specically could engage with the progressive blogging community in the area. If you don't already know, Wainwright Bank is not what you'd ordinarily expect from a bank. In addition to the standard savings and checking accounts, loans and CDs that all banks have, they also maintain a number of community resources and have a real commitment to helping out non-profit organizations. A good explanation of what this means can be found on their mission page. Their CommunityRoom.net page is also an excellent resource through which they provide (as I understand it) free webhosting to non-profit organizations throughout the greater boston area. And one other fantastic service they offer (that I hadn't known about until it was mentioned in this meeting) was that each branch has a conference room that they make available to anyone in the community who either banks with Wainwright or is one of the non-profits in the Community Room. As a small business owner who banks at Wainwright myself, this is a fantastic resource I have at my disposal as I basically now have a space to hold meetings other than my living room, or whatever coffee shop happens to be convenient. As for the meeting itself, it consisted of Mr. Glassman, the aforementioned bloggers, and several other Wainwright team members. The discussion focused largely on whether or not Wainwright should have a presence on the blogosphere and what sort of presence it should have. We talked about the potential advantages of a corporate blog vs. a personal blog by Mr. Glassman and/or other Wainwright employees. We talked about what sorts of things should or shouldn't be mentioned on any such blogs. And we talked about the potential disadvantages as well. One of the major disadvantages, which I don't think any of us bloggers had though of, is that banking is a heavily regulated industry. Much more so than probably any of the others where we're starting to see corporate blogs pop up. Banks are very thoroughly scrutinized every single year, and it was clear that there was some worry on the part of Wainwright as to whether or not this would be a problem when it comes to blogging. Not being in banking myself, I don't really know what sorts of things the regulators would be looking for or might have a problem with, but it seems like this was a fairly large concern. But regardless of how it's done or the potential problems, the main thrust of any blogging activity would be to spread awareness of Wainwright and the things they do in a way that's not intrusive or disruptive like traditional advertising campaigns. Basically they want people to get to know them, which, in my opinion and from my experience, is a perfect application for a blog. We came up with a lot of different ideas about things they could do, but there are two of them that really stick out for me. First was the idea that people from the various departments of the bank could blog about prevalent issues in personal finance, politics, mortgages, and general money related issues. For example, with the whole bit issue of sub-prime mortgages right now, we (the bloggers) really thought it would be nice to have an authoritative voice from a bank such as Wainwright talk about what sub-prime mortgages actually are, what the problems have been, and basically just shed light on the whole issue to those of us who don't know so much about these things. And I'm sure there is no shortage of other such issues that they could talk about. Doing this would create a fantastic resource for people around the country, and do a great job of spreading awareness of Wainwright. The other idea that I really like is a more personal blog, perhaps by Mr. Glassman himself (an excellent candidate as one of the co-Founders, and he did seem interested in doing it). The purpose of a blog like this would be to put a human face on the bank and let us get to know the philosophy behind it on a more personal level. In my own experience with my own business this has been very successful, and from meeting with Mr. Glassman myself, I think he would be an ideal candidate for it. The decision is far from being made, of course. Banking is slow-moving and cautious industry. But I find it very encouraging that they're even considering this at all. It sounds like there will be a few more face to face meetings about this in the future as well. I'm looking forward to them as I'd very much like to be further involved in Wainwright's entry into the blogosphere.
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