CAMPAIGNS: Mass interest in new pay stations - Service Launch

PayPoint is a new bill payment network set up by a consortium of utilities including gas and water companies. Its purpose is to establish and roll-out the service at over 7,300 retail locations where people can pay their household bills free of charge. The service is primarily targeted at the six million households who prefer or have to pay their bills in cash, often on a weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis.

PayPoint is a new bill payment network set up by a consortium of

utilities including gas and water companies. Its purpose is to establish

and roll-out the service at over 7,300 retail locations where people can

pay their household bills free of charge. The service is primarily

targeted at the six million households who prefer or have to pay their

bills in cash, often on a weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis.



Sector PR has been involved with PayPoint from the launch of the concept

and has been acting as central press office for PayPoint.



Objective



To generate high profile media coverage of the PayPoint launch

nationally and regionally and to generate a high level of awareness of

the service among key audiences. To establish communication channels

with bill issuers’ own PR departments to ensure the success of the

launches.



Tactics



PayPoint was trialled in Northern Ireland from the end of 1996, and

customer surveys revealed a high level of satisfaction. But for the

national launch London was chosen as the location for a major press

conference, which was arranged for 9 September at the Berkeley Hotel.

This served as both the main national launch and the first in a series

of local launches planned as the service is rolled out across the

country.



At the conference Rob Farbrother, managing director of PayPoint, and

Deirdre Hutton, chairman of the National Consumer Council, were

available to give interviews.



Two PayPoint stores were up and running in advance of the event, and

television crews and picture editors were invited to film them and

interview customers and retailers. A video news release was produced

under embargo for television. Case studies of individuals who may

benefit from PayPoint were provided for the press. The whole operation

had to be co-ordinated with the press offices of the member utility

companies. A PR Committee was established and held regular meetings to

ensure members worked in co-ordination with Sector.



Results



National newspapers including the Sunday Mirror, the Sunday Times, the

Guardian, the Mirror, the Independent, the Daily Mail and the Times

covered PayPoint as a news item or as part of a larger feature on

utility bill payment. Coverage in the trade press was also

extensive.



Around 80 journalists and four television crews attended the launch.



Farbrother gave four national radio interviews, and both he and Hutton

were interviewed for several television stations. Radio 4’s Money Box

programme visited the trial store in advance of the launch. There were

seven mentions on television and 23 on regional radio.



Verdict



PayPoint has been monitoring the take-up of there service, which it says

has been more successful than expected. The well-organised press

conference generated positive and extensive press coverage, helped by

the fact that utility disconnections and ease of bill payment are a hot

topic.



The two advance stores which were made available for filming, the test

cases and the VNR which was produced made it easy for television - a key

ingredient for mass coverage in the launch campaign - to feature

PayPoint.



Client: PayPoint

PR Team: Sector Public Relations

Campaign: Launch of PayPoint

Timescale: September 1997 - ongoing

Cost: pounds 15,000



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