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Countrywide Hires PR Crisis Firm

If you weren’t sure how bad things are these days at Countrywide, this post should clear things up a bit.

As ongoing layoffs continue to chip away at Countrywide staff seemingly every Wednesday, attacks from ex-employees, homeowners, and major media outlets intensify, with most citing the lending giant’s poor treatment of staff and homeowners.

In a move to improve its murky image, Countrywide has hired PR crisis firm Burson-Marsteller, the same magical company that represented the USPS during the anthrax scare, Johnson & Johnson during the Tylenol poisonings, and most recently companies involved in the Chinese toy scandal.

“We wanted to assure you that my firm and I have brought companies through the worst type of publicity,” Burson’s Jason Schechter said, according to the transcript.

A (phone) call to arms was led by Andrew “Drew” Gissinger III, Countrywide’s executive managing director of residential lending, who spoke to 250 “opinion leaders” within the company.

“It’s gotten to the point where our integrity is being attacked, NOW IT’S PERSONAL…And, WE’RE NOT GOING TO TAKE IT!,” Gissinger said.

The beleaguered mortgage lender has also begun handing out green wristbands stamped with the slogan, “Protect Our House”, as a pledge of solidarity to stand behind the company through thick and thin.

“I want employees to look down at their wristbands and remember our fundamental mission to help customers achieve the American Dream, and to help them withstand those malicious outward attacks and to motivate them to continue on our journey with unwavering conviction,” the transcript quotes Mr. Gissinger as saying.

Doesn’t seem quite as noble as the cancer fight, but hey, there’s a wristband for anything these days right?

The wristbands will be given to employees in exchange for signing the “Protect Our House” pledge, and it is believed that 11,000 have already signed.

Unfortunately, many Countrywide employees have already referred to the recent attempts to refine the company’s image as transparent and laughable, with most fearing for their jobs, much less worrying about what people think of them.

Update: You really must see this “response” from an anonymous someone regarding the “Protect Our House” campaign.

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