Marketing directors of smaller banks face many disadvantages when competing with local offices of national institutions. For one thing, when there's any kind of change that affects banks - economic, regulatory, or legal - the press automatically calls megabanks for comment. Journalists totally overlook smaller institutions whose officers may have more knowledge or could provide keen insight.

Sometimes it seems that all the big banks have to do is sneeze to generate front-page coverage. A few months ago, First National Bank of Chicago's decision to open a few offices on Sunday became the lead story on the business pages even though a financial institution one hundredth its size opened a seven-day-aweek office 12 years previously with little fanfare.

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