CAMPAIGNS: Virgin Money lands expert analysis slots - Broadcast PR

Client: Virgin Money
PR Team: In-house, Link Media and Consolidated Communications
Campaign: Response to the Sandler and Pickering reports
Timescale: June - July
Budget: Part of retainer

The focus for Virgin Money's 2002 PR strategy is to position the firm as a consumer champion and financial services expert with broadcasters.

In July, the publication of two Government-commissioned reports into long-term savings and pensions provisions - by Ron Sandler and Alan Pickering - gave Virgin the opportunity to comment on the UK's long-term savings and pension provision.

Objectives

To raise public awareness of Virgin as a financial services provider and position the company as an industry expert and the first port-of-call for comment with broadcasters.

Strategy and Plan

At the beginning of July, Link Media issued all broadcasters with an advance briefing note, which detailed what the Sandler and Pickering reports were likely to contain and what Virgin Money's response would be. It also offered spokespeople for comment, both live in London and on an ISDN line in Norwich, backed with case studies from 'real people'.

On 8 July, the day before the Sandler launch, interviews were secured with outlets such as the BBC, ITN, Sky, IRN and CNN.

The following morning, the Treasury released its report at 7.30am and, by 8.15am, Virgin spokesperson Gordon Maw was fully briefed to air his opinions, live on CNBC.

Aware that broadcasters would be uncomfortable using the same commentators two days later for the release of the Pickering report, the PR team restricted its media targets to broadcasters who had not approached Virgin Money previously.

Measurement and Evaluation

There was more than 90 minutes of national, regional and pan-European broadcast coverage during a two-day period.

Highlights included the Today programme, BBC Breakfast News, ITN lunchtime and evening news and BBC Radio 5's Financial World Tonight.

Results

The reports introduced Virgin Money as an industry expert, often positioned alongside the authors of the report and organisations such as the CBI.

Much coverage carried Virgin Money's own messages on subjects such as tracker funds, as well as comment supporting the interests of consumers.

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