CAMPAIGNS: Barclays raises on-line interest - Hi-tech PR

In 1995 Barclays was the first bank on the internet. As the market for on-line banking expands, Barclays decided to steal a march on its rivals and enhance its existing on-line banking service by becoming the first bank to offer a free internet service.

In 1995 Barclays was the first bank on the internet. As the market

for on-line banking expands, Barclays decided to steal a march on its

rivals and enhance its existing on-line banking service by becoming the

first bank to offer a free internet service.



Barclays also chose to differentiate itself by offering customer support

at national rate call charges rather than the premium rate charge.

Barclays decided to use PR to generate interest until the service was up

and running and it was able to respond to consumer requests for starter

packs.



Objectives



To launch the new internet service and generate as much media interest

as possible, using only PR to encourage new customers to sign up.



Strategy and Plan



Aware of the massive media interest in the internet and online banking,

Barclays wanted to position itself as an innovator and the leading

authority on the subject.



To achieve this it needed to be the first bank into the ISP market.

Shortly before its planned announcement, however, it learnt that rival

Citibank was going to announce a similar service on the same day.



Because of its new integrated communications structure, in which

internal and external communications have been brought together in one

department, Barclays was able to react swiftly to this news and bring

forward its announcement by a couple of days.



Staff were informed about the new service in the weekly staff newspaper

just before the media announcement.



On 16 March a press release was issued announcing the new service,

Barclays.net, and the intended launch.



Barclays was now able to take advantage of being the first in the market

and put forward a spokesperson, Peter Duffy, head of on-line banking,

for commentary on on-line banking and the internet. Case studies were

also used to maintain media interest in the run-up to the launch.



A media tour took place on launch day, 6 May, when the service went

live.



Barclays decided this was the most effective launch technique because it

enabled Duffy to demonstrate the service to key media including the

Financial Times, Mirror and PA News. A photoshoot was staged and a story

issued showing how the service could be used at a remote location such

as a lighthouse.



Measurement and Evaluation



In the week following the announcement there were 49 pieces of coverage,

including 16 in the national press. This included the Financial Times,

Express, Telegraph and Sunday Times. The work to position Duffy as a

spokesperson led to broadcast coverage on Business Breakfast and Working

Lunch. In total there were 194 pieces of coverage from the announcement

until mid-May.



Nearly 6,000 people registered for the service within a week of the

announcement, and by the time it went live the total had reached nearly

20,000. The launch of the ISP service was also credited with adding 24p

to Barclays’ share price on the day of the announcement.



Results



The figures show Barclays was able to achieve very tangible results for

its new service using the power of PR alone. It reacted to the threat

posed by Citibank and positioned itself as the leading authority on

on-line banking and the internet.



The effort spent building up Duffy as a spokesperson also paid off in

the amount of coverage achieved and contacts developed, which should

lead to ongoing opportunities.



Client: Barclays

PR Team: In-house

Campaign: Launch of free internet service

Timescale: February 1999 - ongoing

Budget: Undisclosed



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