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
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
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
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.
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.
PR Team: In-house
Campaign: Launch of free internet service
Timescale: February 1999 - ongoing