Blog 5 minute readCompany: Santander UK Campaign: Breakthrough Boosting British Businesses Category: Financial PR Campaign of The Year - South - Shortlisted Objective Santander has been establishing a Corporate Banking division since taking over Alliance & Leicester in 2008. When Ana Botín took over as CEO last year she focused on corporate banking to build market share. The bank launched Breakthrough, an initiative to support British businesses, helping to fuel economic growth whilst also demonstrating Santander's commitment to UK Plc and position it as the SME bank of choice. It became an important way to differentiate Santander from its competitors. Breakthough includes a mezzanine fund, which aims to address a recognised investment gap for companies with turnover of up to £10m a pioneering step for a commercial bank as this funding is usually considered too risky for traditional lenders. Alongside funding, Breakthrough provides support to help companies overcome barriers and achieve high-level growth including masterclasses with established businesses; international trade missions; and networking events. Breakthrough was a crucial way to shape public perception of Santander and, reputationally, the launch PR campaign needed to serve three purposes: 1) Position Santander as a full service commercial bank rebalancing its business mix and positioning Santander within a sector (fast-growth) of the business landscape. 2) As the CEOs first new initiative, it needed to be the lynchpin for the media campaign to establish her profile and reputation. The PR needed to differentiate Ana from her peers and demonstrate her knowledge of small businesses and the issues affecting them. 3) Breakthrough came when public expectations of the role of the banking sector were changing. Breakthrough extends the support Santander can provide small businesses through both finance and support, and demonstrates how it can play a wider, more helpful role in society. In practical terms, the aim was to increase awareness of Breakthrough with media and external stakeholders, i.e. Government, and to drive interest from businesses. The agreed objectives were: Generate positive coverage in 75% of articles, 75% of articles to reference Santander in headline or first paragraph, 50% of articles to focus on key messaging around fundS, 50% of articles to feature spokespeople CEO Ana Botín and Head of Corporate Banking Steve Pateman and generate 1,000 webpage viewings per month Strategy & Target Audience We needed to reach a wide range of stakeholders including businesses, business introducers, MPs, central Government Departments, the wider bank, and trade organisations. To ensure we reached these stakeholders as well as the media, we launched an integrated PR, CSR and Public Affairs campaign. As Breakthrough is aimed at local communities we focused on a regional media campaign and, using our spokespeople to tell our story to demonstrate openness, we took a risk and gave regional papers unprecedented access to our executive board. To add weight to the regional messaging, we conducted a major research project with Experian to identify the fast growth small businesses, their growth patterns and economic impact in each region. Action We split our PR campaign into two tactical phases: Phase One: September November, Pre-launch Raising Expectations: We conducted targeted media briefings with Ana Botín and Steve Pateman to secure media interest and to shape and control our message. We briefed the Sunday Telegraph regarding the loan mechanics. We created a profile opportunity with the Sunday Times inviting a journalist on a CEO visit to a small business customer. To reach our target business audience, we conducted a detailed interview with our CEO and the CBI Business Voice Magazine (annual conference issue). Phase Two: November December Launch To generate maximum coverage, we held three regional launch events ahead of a national launch in December. We targeted regional media using the Experian data, press releases and interviews. We used case studies from the pilot initiatives to bring the story to life. Following the national launch and press release, we arranged a series of broadsheet interviews with our spokespeople. We targeted specialist and trade press through a series of briefings, by-lined articles and interviews to reach other influencers and intermediaries. Internal communications We held a full internal communications campaign, including videos and intranet stories, alongside the media campaign to ensure staff engagement. Stakeholder Engagement A new independent website was launched using video, photography, case studies and feature articles to illustrate the programme. We launched a public affairs campaign to inform MPs through a series of communications and invited MPs to the launch events. Our CEO briefed George Osborne and Vince Cable, and we held a number of briefing sessions with the Department for Business and The Treasury to influence Government stakeholders. We briefed finance professionals and trade bodies to secure third party endorsement Results Outcomes and evaluation Third party evaluation of the campaign showed: 72 items of print and online coverage generated (92 per cent positive) reaching a potential audience in excess of 8 million Interest generated amongst target audience - all events fully subscribed and a high number of registrations for the fund (including 28 viable referrals) 89 per cent of articles featured Santander in the headline or first paragraph, 78 per cent of articles focused on the fund (key message), 65 per cent of articles featured Ana Botín or Steve Pateman, 11 per cent with photo Coverage equaled media value (AVE) of £411,840, Website hits totalled 1,594 in November and 1,037 in December The Breakthrough PR campaign effectively help build Santander's reputation in the business banking market, against a difficult background of negative sentiment amongst politicians, the public and the media. Creative use of solid PR techniques combined with taking the risk of exposing board members directly with the media resulted in outstanding coverage and more importantly strong interest from the target business audience. URL http://www.santanderbreakthrough.co.uk/ The PRmoment Golden Hedgehog Awards 2014 are now open for entries. Here are this years updated categories.