Inside Financial Services PR with Alan Elias of Washington Mutual


This is an exclusive, unedited interview with Alan Elias, senior vice president of corporate communications for Washington Mutual Card Services, years before the WaMu meltdown.

He speaks candidly about crisis communications in fintech, the impact of Regulation Fair Disclosure on public relations disclosure, and how corporate scandals have affected how he does his job.

Alan Elias is senior vice president of corporate communications for Washington Mutual Card Services (formerly Providian Financial Corporation), a leading provider of credit cards and deposit products to mainstream American consumers. 

Elias joined the company in January 2000 and is responsible for directing the division’s employee and public relations activities and managing the credit card division’s Social Marketing/Image Enhancement program. 

Before the merger, Elias was also responsible for leading Providian’s Community Relations program, which included corporate philanthropy and the employee volunteer program. 

Before joining Providian, Elias spent ten years at the PR agency Hill & Knowlton, where he was responsible for leading the media relations, crisis communications, media training, and litigation support practices in the company’s Los Angeles, Irvine, and Sacramento offices. 

Before the Hill & Knowlton public relations agency, Elias worked as a broadcast journalist for ten years.

FinTech Public Relations Agency Insights

5:03 – Elias talks about serving on a panel at the Media Relations conference on rebuilding an organization’s image after a crisis.

5:35 – Elias discusses the challenges he faced at Providian and how he got through them.

6:34 – Elias on the revelations he has had on the subject of crisis communications: “The number one rule in crisis communications is to demonstrate action.”

7:16 – Elias on the change in the dynamics of business over the past several years. 

8:01 – Elias talks about measuring PR success.

9:30 – Elias discusses traffic generated from Washington Mutual’s website, public relations materials, and Google: “The average consumer now has a lot more information at their fingertips, and they also have the ability to get a lot more disinformation…and that’s also made our jobs as communicators a little more difficult.”

10:18 – Elias talks about monitoring the blogosphere.

11:25 –  Elias discusses how the introduction of Regulation Fair Disclosure has affected the way he does his job.

12:56 – Elias on how companies ensure compliance with Reg FD.

14:08 – Elias discusses the parameters of Reg FD from a legal perspective. 

15:46 –  Elias talks about leveraging blogs to influence decisions in the marketplace. 

17:37 – Elias on the impact of the Sarbanes-Oxley legislation.

19:10 – Elias talks about the increase in corporate fraud and how it is influencing his work as a communicator.

20:48 – Elias on communicating the impact of rising interest rates to consumers.

22:41 – End.

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