BMO Turns Near Disaster into Media Coup

As readers in Canada will probably already have seen, BMO Nesbitt Burns sponsored a lunch event in Toronto yesterday, featuring Alan Greenspan, renowned former Chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve.

Their sold-out $400 a seat event threatened to go completely pear-shaped on them, when Mr. Greenspan became stranded in Washington due to the winter storms.

Enterprising and quick-thinking staffers at BMO scrambled to host a virtual Greenspan, using video-conferencing to bring the iconic banker into the room of 1,500 Bay Street types.

But the truly outstanding part of their response to this minor crisis was in the way they staged Greenspan's non-appearance. Parking a club chair on the stage with a flat screen monitor on top, BMO staff scrounged a business suit, shirt and tie from someone at the host venue (Toronto's Sheraton Centre), and created a fantastic photo opp.

Variations of the shot shown here appeared on the front of the Globe's Report On Business, on page A1 of the Toronto Star, and on the front of the Financial Post. They pretty-much owned the front page today, in other words - plus the story of their virtual Greenspan became news in itself, and they still got full coverage from the content of his speech deeper into the papers.

Kim Hanson and her BMO colleagues must be doing cartwheels of joy this morning. Great work.