New generation banking and finance group Egg prides itself on doing things differently, and treating its customers as individuals.
There was awareness at the company that some people find dealing with financial matters incredibly difficult, so last summer it commissioned Cambridge University social and political science professor Dr Brendan Burchell to carry out research into this.
To get a deeper knowledge of customers' feelings about finances in order to inform the way Egg - and the banking industry - does business with them. To get maximum media coverage of the research, and position Egg as a financial services provider that helps individuals manage their money.
Strategy and Plan
The research was not conceived as a PR tool, but when Dr Burchell returned his initial findings to Egg, the PR potential became apparent.
A strategy was put in place by the brand awareness team at the bank while the professor carried out more research. He defined a new condition, 'financial phobia', which renders one-in-five people unable to handle personal finances, to the extent of feeling ill.
The PR strategy was two-pronged. As the research was published, a media relations campaign targeted all UK national and regional media, and radio and TV broadcasters. Egg wanted the story to be on the news agenda rather than the personal finance pages, which 'financial phobes' would clearly avoid, so consumer and social affairs editors and news desks were targeted. Band & Brown helped Egg with tactical media relations support.
The second stage of the strategy is yet to be carried out. Egg has registered www.financial-phobia.com and will run a more light-hearted six-week online campaign with a questionnaire rating users on their level of 'financial phobia', and tips on how to manage their finances. The online campaign will be dual-branded with handbag.com, with support from GQ, Maxim and Glamour magazines, and run by Band & Brown's online arm, iJack.
Measurement & Evaluation
Formal evaluation will be carried out after the online campaign, but in the first two days of the campaign there was near-blanket coverage in the nationals, including full pages in the Daily Express and Daily Mail, and on 116 broadcast outlets, including BBC Breakfast.
The coverage, on almost every occasion, carried the message that Egg was a bank sensitive to customer concerns about personal finance.
The research yielded a high level of media response and is now regarded as a useful business tool. The PR campaign has helped to build awareness of the young bank, although it is too early to measure this.
Egg hopes to engage other banks in an industry initiative to help 'financial phobes'. Burchell has received emails from financial institutions across the world expressing interest in his research.