Following the credit crunch, trust in banks plummeted by an incredible 69%. Being lumped together with the other banks was not good for First Direct. Nor was it fair. The bank had just achieved number one status in the Customer Satisfaction Index, and was about to embark on a pioneering service that showcased live comments - taken from hundreds of websites, including social media and blogs - on its own site.
It was our job to ensure that this 'good news' reached a jaded public.
When confidence in the entire financial sector is at an all-time low, how does one of the world's most innovative banks set itself apart? That's the challenge that First Direct gave us. Our response was two-fold. First, we highlighted its industry-leading customer satisfaction levels in a quirky online film. Then, in a bold new online initiative, we helped to stream live opinions of the bank taken from the most trusted source of all - the customers themselves.
Research showed that it was often the little things that First Direct did which made a difference to customers. This was why satisfaction levels were so high. Taking this as our cue, we generated a film that captured people's genuine reactions when First Direct did nice things for them. Shot over a single day, the film shows the bank giving out flowers and chocolates, interspersed with the key statistics behind the satisfaction levels.
Displaying live feeds from all manner of social media on your website is a courageous step for any company, let alone a bank. But that's exactly what First Direct did. Harvesting comments from Twitter, Facebook, Money Saving Expert and a huge number of other forums, First Direct shared them with the world, showing it wasn't afraid to reveal what people genuinely thought of the bank and its services.
To prompt conversations around the campaign, we conducted research on consumer feelings about openness, doing business online and sharing information. We identified 'a new age of openness', and used the stories that our research revealed to develop online content that was then seeded via social media sites and bloggers.
Our two-pronged approach achieved exactly the response the client was hoping for. The film was exceptionally well received on The Times Online and CondeNet sites, generating over 1.6 million views.
Similarly, the live feed initiative proved extremely popular with the public and industry alike - it gained extensive coverage in the national press and scooped a prestigious award for online PR in 2009.
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