KPMG Tax Season Publicity
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Holmes Report

KPMG Tax Season Publicity

This year’s Tax Season proved to be an exciting time for KPMG’s Personal Financial Planning practice. Although the tax changes this year were not wide in scope, they did affect a broad range of taxpayers.

Paul Holmes

This year’s Tax Season proved to be an exciting time for KPMG’s Personal Financial Planning practice.  Although the tax changes we saw this year were not necessarily wide in scope, they did, in fact, affect a broad range of taxpayers.  Changes such as the extension of the Hope Scholarship and Lifetime Learning tax credits, along with key IRA-related issues, generated strong media interest.
To capitalize on this momentum and capture this interest, Weber Shandwick Worldwide developed a distinctive tax-season media campaign designed to place spokespeople from KPMG’s Personal Financial Planning practice at the forefront of tax season-related coverage nationwide.
The end result: KPMG’s Personal Financial Planning practice “owned” the news on tax-related subject matters from January – April 15, 2000 with an astounding 582 clips and over 44 million impressions generated, and was by far the most quoted Big 5 firm on a global scale.
Weber Shandwick researched how tax season was covered by journalists and the media the year prior.  The research objective was four-fold:
  • Understand the challenges facing KPMG in owning the media marketplace during this tax season;
  • Understand the issues that would be of greatest importance to key tax journalists and personal finance editors at media outlets nationwide;
  • Understand the major “players” in tax season related coverage;
  • Gain a competitive advantage among the other Big 5 in overall media strategy development.
Part 1: Where we stood: Although KPMG had built a successful brand in the overall marketplace over the past few years, it still needed to carve out a niche for its Personal Financial Planning practice.
Part 2: What we needed to do: A media audit of key tax/personal finance journalists uncovered that while KPMG had brand recognition in the marketplace, several partners from other Big 5 firms (i.e. Martin Nissenbaum, Ernst & Young and Clint Stretch, Deloitte & Touche) were still better known and more frequently covered by journalists.  In order to spotlight the talent housed in KPMG’s Personal Financial Planning practice, we needed to design our media strategy to position our key spokespeople as “industry luminaries.”
This research guided our communications strategy and led us to create a pro-active, opportunistic platform detailing several key personal finance issues that KPMG could “own.”
Weber Shandwick worked to develop KPMG’s tax season media plan far enough in advance of April 2000 to gain a competitive edge.  The campaign for the personal financial planning practice was designed to take the taxpayer and appropriate journalists through the full spectrum of tax-prep that takes place from January 1- April 15. To accomplish this goal, the campaign was structured in three phases: I. Early-Filers II. Regular Filers III. Late-Filers.
To meet these objectives, Weber Shandwick developed a “tax-media blitz,” designed to place KPMG’s Personal Financial Planning practice top-of-mind throughout all of tax season, as well as showcase the varied expertise housed under the practice umbrella.
Weber Shandwick seized every opportunity to reach key tax and personal finance editors across the country with KPMG’s core tax message of providing end-to-end, integrated tax solutions for corporations and individuals alike. Weber Shandwick utilized the following vehicles to communicate this message:
  • Press releases detailing tax tips for the early and regular filer;
  • Media advisories which highlighted changes to the tax code;
  • An intensive media relations program designed to inform reporters and keep them up-to-date before, during and after tax season.


Without question, Weber Shandwick’s tax-season media relations campaign served to demonstrate the varied expertise of KPMG’s Personal Financial Planning practice. Through the efforts of Weber Shandwick and key Personal Financial Planning partners, KPMG was able to seize the media spotlight and command all tax season-related news.
A comprehensive independent search was executed to ascertain the success of Shandwick’s program in penetrating KPMG’s tax message throughout the media marketplace.  With 582 clips, KPMG clearly led the Big 5 in tax-related coverage for April 2000 tax season.
Following are total media hits garnered by the other Big 5:
  • PriceWaterhouse Coopers-17
  • Deloitte & Touche-334
  • Ernst & Young-61
  • Arthur Andersen-8.
The above stats clearly demonstrate KPMG’s success in eclipsing its competitors on all tax season-related issues in the media.  KPMG tax-season media placements spanned all media. From national and regional dailies, to broadcast, wires, business magazines and online publications, KPMG’s Personal Financial Planning partners dominated the news.
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