Financial institutions are usually conservative by nature. You can understand why, because they need to instill trust in their customers, who want to feel their money is in safe hands. Banking and finance, however, is a highly competitive industry and, increasingly, companies are seeing the value in thinking outside the box for their marketing and PR tactics.
Community sponsorships, and their resulting promotional opportunities, will likely always be a key plank in financial institutions’ PR strategies. Because, naturally, people love free money, contributing cash to a worthy organization is a surefire way to boost brand awareness and enhance your client’s standing as a good corporate citizen. This is true both for the immediate recipients of the money and, to a lesser extent, for members of the general public who become aware of the donation. Where appropriate, though, consider ways for company personnel to enhance the PR possibilities of a sponsorship by incorporating some form of hands-on involvement.
In addition to creating internal team-building opportunities, hands-on sponsorships can turn a financial institution’s employees into an ambassadorial army, initially in person and then via content serviced to media and social media. A Bradford Group banking client, for example, recently sponsored a community sporting event and also entered a team in the competition. The employees may not have won on the field, but they did enjoy a great day of team bonding, made friends wherever they went, and were a hit in photos shared on social media.
Another finance client of ours, who happened to have a shopfront along the route of the Nashville marathon, hosted a watch party for spectators and participants. As well as providing a community party venue, company employees handed out sliced oranges to some of the 30,000 runners who went past them. In terms of brand impact, a weary runner might be more likely to favorably remember a company for giving them that nourishment than for hanging a logoed banner.
Doing Your Own Stunts
Rather than giving only to community organizations, open-minded financial institutions can get considerable PR mileage from giveaway promotions and random acts of kindness for the general public. Target potential customers but don’t forget to sometimes also reward the company’s loyal, existing customers too.
A Bradford Group banking client has had considerable success with a series of social media takeovers, whereby a branch employee in each of several markets was selected to commandeer the bank’s social media accounts for a day. That day was to be spent documenting thoughtful gestures performed for customers and the wider community. From paying for random motorists’ fuel to delivering donuts to hard-working police officers, the bank shared the love, then shared the priceless reactions on social media.
The same client surprised Valentine’s Day lovebirds by picking up the checks for an entire restaurant of couples enjoying a romantic dinner. The professionally-shot reactions video was placed with multiple TV outlets and, as a result, continued to generate organic media commentary even weeks later.
Another finance client, whose own clientele includes financially struggling families, enjoyed the goodwill and good media coverage of giving away 100 turkeys to customers who visited their local branch in the lead-up to Thanksgiving. Companies are seeing the value in thinking outside the box for their marketing and PR tactics
Companies are seeing the value in thinking outside the box for their marketing and PR tactics
Managing the Risks
For financial institutions wanting to become more adventurous with their PR tactics, it’s vital to still give proper regard to legal and compliance issues, including working closely with the company departments that specialize in those areas. A detailed risk analysis should be performed wherever appropriate, as should a perception analysis. The latter relates to forecasting possible negative perceptions that a tactic might create. For example, a bank might not want to be perceived as offering giveaways to “rich” people who don’t need them. Or, if a company has recently been in the news for cost-cutting and layoffs, perception-wise it may not be a good time to be doing a giveaway at all.
Giveaways and surprises often present the greatest risks for negative outcomes and coverage, including because you may not know the recipients’ background or how they will react in the moment. For that reason, we recommend to clients that rather than inviting media, especially TV, to cover a promotion, the client should instead have it professionally filmed themselves. That way, you retain control over the content that’s made available to media.
If you’re a banking or finance company ready to take your PR to the next level, why not contact us to set up a meeting?