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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
PR Team: Sector Public Relations
Campaign: Launch of PayPoint
Timescale: September 1997 - ongoing
Cost: pounds 15,000