Campaign: Venture Finance ramps up its industry profile - Corporate PR

Campaign: Does The UK Mean Business? Client: Venture Finance PR team: Midnight Communications Timescale: January-April 2004 Budget: Around £10,000

Venture Finance, founded in 1989 and partner of the IFN Group, supports small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK. Operating in a saturated market, it tries to satisfy the needs of firms that generally do not have the assets to obtain credit from traditional banks or financial companies. It wanted to be recognised as a key player by SMEs. Objectives

To enhance the company's profile. To increase sales targets. To reposition Venture Finance as the partner of SMEs.

Strategy and Plan

Given the limited budget, Midnight targeted SME Bulletin, an online newsletter delivered every week to 25,000 executives. To ensure the content would grab their attention and generate interest in the media, the PR team hired e-media researcher Rapid Research to carry out an online survey dealing with industry issues.

The research, 'Does The UK Mean Business?', asked SMEs to voice their opinion on current business issues. The questions revolved around topics such as Gordon Brown's Budget, the tuition fees debate, the enlargement of the EU and the quality of leadership provided by MPs.

The results of the survey were then sent to the nationals, including The Guardian and The Times, as well as to regional publications in areas where Venture Finance has branches. The articles that reported the survey were by-lined to regional directors, further highlighting the campaign.

Measurement and Evaluation

Between January and the end of March, 65 pieces of coverage appeared in the media. Five pieces were published across the nationals, including The Independent. Fifteen articles ran in business magazines, ten in trade titles and 25 in regional newspapers. Ten pieces were posted on websites, including Startups.co.uk.

Results

During the first quarter of 2004, Venture Finance experienced a 55 per cent increase in sales leads on the same period the previous year.

According to Midnight's evaluation system Business Intelligence Unit, Venture Finance also recorded a 37 per cent average share of editorial voice during the first quarter. The closest competitor reached an average of 32 per cent.

Venture is also experiencing more interest from industry publications, such as Director, Mergers & Acquisition and Acquisition Finance, according to the company.

'Midnight provided up-to-date and well-researched data on issues that were interesting to report on, even after the first month,' says Business 5/50 South editor Steve Wright.

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