CAMPAIGN: First Direct focuses on out-of-hours economy

In January, HSBC-owned First Direct recognised that its positioning as Britain’s premier 24-hour bank was under threat. Read on...

After hours: ‘capturing imaginations’
After hours: ‘capturing imaginations’

Campaign: The Five-to-Nine Economy
Client: First Direct
PR team: In-house and Seventy Seven PR
Timescale: January 2007 – ongoing
Budget: £15,000

To reconnect consumers with its service proposition, the bank hired Seventy Seven PR – its first PR agency in over three years.

To promote the notion of the 24-hour economy and capture consumers’ ­imaginations. To position the bank as a ­pioneer in round-the-clock banking services and a leader in flexible and family-friendly work practices.

To underline the lifestyle shifts that mean consumers want services at times that suit them, the PR team commissioned research from the Centre for Economics and Business Research.

This looked at the value of the out-of-hours, 5pm to 9am economy and identified that nearly a third of Britain’s 30 million employees now work non-traditional hours, contributing £180 billion to the UK economy.

These results were combined with data from the bank’s call centre and sent to national, business, social affairs and lifestyle journalists.

To give the story a local angle, regional media were sent information revealing the top ten UK areas with the highest proportion of people working outside traditional hours.

First Direct head of brand Matthew Higgins and head of HR Jane Hanson did a day of radio interviews and First Direct held a stakeholder and ­emp­loyer event with the Work Foundation in May.

Coverage of the report appeared in all the broadsheets. The Daily Telegraph opened a ‘have your say’ discussion online. News that Blackburn (46.3 per cent), Bracknell Forest (40 per cent) and Wolverhampton (39.6 per cent) lead the UK in around-the-clock working generated significant regional interest. Higgins and Hanson’s day ­behind the microphones netted a further 30 pieces of regional coverage.

As this was primarily a brand-building exercise, the bank has not linked activities directly to any sales or customer service data. However, Hanson was ­invited to speak at the Work Wise UK Summit in May. The bank was also ­approached by Radio 4 to take part in a series of programmes about the emergent 24-hour society and its impact on people’s lives.

Press Association industrial correspondent Alan Jones says the survey fitted with the current news agenda around UK work practices. ‘I also couldn’t remember having seen any recent research into the financial value of work done outside the 9am to 5pm straitjacket.’

To sustain the story, last month First Direct launched an online ‘Five to Nine in Focus’ photography competition.

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