Find your inner peace: HMRC PR team in drive to get tax returns in on time

Inner Peace, HM Revenue & Customs' annual integrated campaign to encourage people to file their Self Assessment (SA) tax return on time, is prioritising lower-cost PR methods over paid-for advertising, according to the agency's comms chief.

Campaign: HMRC's PR team is urging people to find 'inner peace'
Campaign: HMRC's PR team is urging people to find 'inner peace'

The Inner Peace campaign, now in its fourth year, kicked off last month with digital display advertising and traditional PR. It also includes increased social media work.

The campaign runs until 31 January – the deadline for people to complete their tax return online – with HMRC making a final push this week and issuing further press releases.

Last year, the number of SA returns due was 11.1 million. Of these, 10.2 million were received by the deadline, with just shy of one million submitted in the final 48 hours before the deadline. Over 85 per cent of returns were filed online.

This year, press releases including 'I had an argument with my wife and went to Italy for five years: top 10 worst tax return excuses revealed' were sent out around the New Year, gaining coverage in national newspapers and broadcast channels.

This year HMRC has increased comms activity via social media, using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube to offer information and advice. It is also providing direct customer support on social media – answering questions from customers within 15 minutes, with the hashtags #innerpeace and #selfassessment.

In the run-up to 31 January, a team of 18 local radio broadcasters – HMRC tax inspectors including four fluent in languages such as Punjabi and Welsh – take part in phone-ins, interviews and news bulletins, on BBC, commercial and community radio stations across the UK.

HMRC said that last year's campaign generated a total of 1,713 pieces of coverage, 65 per cent of which were positive. In terms of social media, HMRC issued 175 tweets between 20 October 2014 and 31 January 2015, which gained more than 3,400 retweets.

Stephen Hardwick, HMRC's director of corporate comms, told PRWeek: "Since HMRC asks 11 million customers to complete a self-assessment tax return, it's important that we make it as easy as possible for them to file their returns and pay what they owe on time.

"Communications plays a vital role in prompting customers to take action – from the wording of direct customer letters, emails and SMS reminders, to running integrated media, social media and advertising campaigns. Not only have we helped to increase the proportion of customers who file online and on time, but by prioritising free and low-cost campaigning over paid-for advertising, we have achieved this at a reducing cost."


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