Blog 5 minute readCompany: Gravity London Campaign: Institute of Credit Management - Raising the profile of professional credit management Category: Financial PR Campaign of the Year - South - WINNER Objective If there is one thing that the Government – and especially the Department of Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) – has learned from the current economic crisis, it is the critical importance of cashflow and effective cashflow management for businesses within the supply chain. In no small way this ‘learning’ has been down to its engagement with specialist membership bodies and associations within the business sector, with arguably the most influential being the Institute of Credit Management (ICM). The objective of the campaign was in two parts: • The first was to place the issue of credit and cashflow management at the heart of business survival and success • The second was to position the ICM as being the expert authority in the credit management ‘space’, and therefore the ‘go to’ organisation for government, the public sector, private sector and – crucially – individual members to consult for best advice. Whereas the campaign was centred around getting help to small businesses in particular, raising the profile of credit management as both a ‘skill’ and a ‘profession’ would also support its longer-term goal of sustaining and increasing membership of the Institute. Strategy & Target Audience The strategy was to identify specific components of credit management – and most notably ‘payments’ – as an area that both businesses and Government would understand, and identify initiatives and/or create stories around them. The strategy was also to engage with other like-minded business organisations – such as the Forum for Private Business (FPB) – and major corporates in the credit space – such as Experian – and to ‘package’ stories where the parties could unite behind a common cause. Action Through an intense Public Relations and Media campaign, complemented by an element of lobbying, Gravity London established the ICM as the true expert advisor in ‘credit management’. Over the last 12 months Gravity has: - launched the Credit Managers’ Index (CMI) – a barometer that measures the volumes and values of credit extended between businesses as well as critical indicators such as applications for credit, overdues, sales orders etc - republished and extended the ICM's Managing Cashflow Guide series – a series of ‘self help’ guides covering the basics of cashflow management and getting paid. - created comment pieces, releases and articles on every major announcement or consultation that affects the credit industry and creditors (ie those who are owed money) including: • the decision not to take action on pre-pack administrations (Institute dismay at Government announcement over pre-packs); • the decision to expand the Prompt Payment Code (ICM supports drive to tackle late payment) • the publication of the Breedon Report (ICM urges more compulsion on prompt payment) • the proposed regulation of insolvency practitioners (‘Two years to go nowhere’ says ICM chief) • the government consultation on bailiff reform (Reforms based on false premise says ICM) Gravity used various media vehicles to create noise, particularly engaging with good effect with the small business/enterprise sections of the Daily Telegraph and the Mail on Sunday, but also the Financial Times and the BBC’s Wake Up To Money. Results The results of the campaign are in two parts: Media profile In terms of media profile, the ICM attained at least 20 articles/mentions in mainstream national and broadcast press with an AVE far in excess of £300,000. The highlights included: “Small companies waiting on £35bn in late payment” - The Telegraph (online), 15.05.12 “Late payment ‘a chronic problem’” - The Daily Telegraph, 08.05.12 “Measures needed to end UK’s ‘late payment culture’” - The Telegraph (online), 23.04.12 “Owed money? Just click on to comparethebailiff.com” - The Mail on Sunday + Mail Online, 25.03.12 “Small firms can act on late payment” - The Daily Telegraph, 07.02.12 “Suppliers suffer from ‘endemic’ late payment” - The Daily Telegraph and online, 27.01.12 “Late payment group set to reform” - The Daily Telegraph, 24.01.12 “Farmers and businesses call for end to late payments” - BBC News, 14.12.11 “Call for ‘shaming’ of late payers” - The Daily Telegraph, 13.12.11 “Call to tackle late payment” - The Sunday Telegraph, 11.12.11 “Late payers add to data ‘lottery’ risk” - The Daily Telegraph and online, 15.11.11 “Businesses face credit lottery risk” - The Sunday Telegraph, 23.10.11 “Micro-business plan ‘muddled’” - Financial Times and online, 27.08.11 Government/Business profile Perhaps the greatest demonstration of the success of the campaign, however, is not simply the amount or value of column inches attained (which is substantial), but rather the influence and impact such coverage has had in helping more than 300,000 small businesses gain the support they need in keeping the cash flowing through their businesses. Success can also be measured in the impact the media drive has received in Government circles, culminating in the ICM’s chief executive Philip King being appointed to the Board of the Government’s new Start Up Loans Company – chaired by James Caan, championed by Lord Young and supported by the Prime Minister – with direct responsibility for the credit decisions for start up and entrepreneurial businesses. Since the start of the campaign: • the number of Managing Cashflow guides downloaded has exceeded 300,000. • the ICM was invited to join the Government’s ‘Finance Fitness’ campaign working to help small businesses gain the financial advice they need to succeed. • the ICM was invited to write a monthly ‘cashflow tip’ on behalf of Mark Prisk, Business Minister. • the Institute is now regularly called upon to contribute to third-party stories and speak at relevant conferences and forums. • the ICM has been called in to various Government departments to promote the importance of credit management, and deliver training where needed. The PRmoment Golden Hedgehog Awards 2014 are now open for entries. Here are this years updated categories.