Fund lures parents to children's account

Child trust fund provider, Family Investments, is lobbying the Government for a shorter deadline for parents to invest their children's Government allocated vouchers.

Campaign Revenue Allocation
Client Family Investments
PR team Hill & Knowlton
Timescale February-April 2006
Budget £7,000

Since September 2002 the Government has allocated £250 for every child born in the UK, via vouchers that can be used to open a child trust fund account. In his last Budget, the Chancellor, Gordon Brown, announced that all children will receive an additional £250 on their seventh birthday, with those from lower-income families eligible for £500.

Under the schemes, parents have up to a year to invest the vouchers with an account provider. After this time, the Government invests the money itself with an institution on its selected list of providers.

Family Investments is the leading provider of child trust funds, with more than 300,000 registered accounts. Believing the 12-month investment deadline to be too long, it called in Hill & Knowlton to promote its services to parents and lobby the Government for a shorter deadline.

To maximise exposure of child trust funds and campaign for a shortening of the investment deadline to three months. To increase the number of Family Investments' clients. 

Strategy and Plan
Hill & Knowlton hosted parent focus groups, which were quizzed on the services of child trust fund providers. It found that satisfaction levels varied with different providers on the Government's list, with some parents complaining of hidden fees. Most importantly, H&K discovered that many parents would support its client's bid to reduce the investment period.

Armed with its findings, the agency met with financial journalists to discuss how the story could be reported. With two weeks to the Budget, H&K kicked off the campaign proper with two email alerts, containing statistics from the research. These were sent to journalists, and preceded a general press release. Case studies were then made available, while Family Investments' spokespeople were briefed on the campaign message and potential media questions.

The agency also liaised with individual journalists to ensure they had the appropriate information to cover the story. Momentum was maintained by, for example, the piggy-backing of research released by competitors. Later, it chased up those who had not yet covered the campaign.

Measurement and Evaluation
Coverage was achieved across a wide spread of national media, including The Independent, The Daily Telegraph and The Sun. Local and regional press interest included the Aberdeen Press & Journal, the Bristol Evening Post and Bournemouth's Daily Echo. and also featured the story, as did financial magazines Moneyextra and Financial Advisor, and the BBC's Working Lunch programme.

Daily applications to Family Investments' stakeholder child trust fund account rose by 50 per cent in the run-up to the Budget, exceeding the client's expectations.

Its research results were extensively used in media coverage - often instead of official figures from the Inland Revenue. The Government is now reviewing Family Investments' call for a three-month investment deadline.

Simon Gompertz, Working Lunch business correspondent, says: ‘There was so much information out there but Family Investments is one of the biggest players, so it would have been strange for a journalist not to mention some of its figures.'

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