Think that small news can fill a big news hole in broadcast business coverage? Karwoski & Courage Public Relations thought small business news could. Karwoski & Courage created “Your Business Today," the first ever program of its kind. The program is a U.S. Bank branded, daily, 60-second radio news show that features interviews with small business experts from across the nation, followed by 20-second U.S. Bank product and service promotional voiceover tags.
Why small business news? The goal was to brand U.S. Bank as a small business-friendly bank among small business owners. And why radio? Although small businesses comprise approximately 90 percent of all U.S. businesses, Karwoski & Courage found that most news/talk-format radio stations concentrate almost exclusively on Fortune 500 companies and stock market information.
The result? After six months airing the program, research showed that favorability of U.S. Bank increased considerably among its target small business audience. In addition, U.S. Bank’s small business division was enjoying a re-energized stature among internal audiences within the bank.
The final step was to expand the “Your Business Today” news content to print and online vehicles. A content-driven web site, at http://www.yourbusinesstoday.com/, was launched and print/online partnerships were forged. The program’s web site offers a searchable archive with streaming audio for all the radio programs, as well as resource links, community pages and links to U.S. Bank small business products.
Karwoski & Courage found that small business owners expected their bank to understand their needs, and wanted to view their bank/banker as a partner in their business venture. While U.S. Bank had been successful using offer-driven print and radio advertising for most of its banking divisions, research and poor advertising campaign results demonstrated that small business customers didn't respond to traditional advertising. New small business accounts were down. There had to be a better way to brand U.S. Bank as a small business-friendly financial institution.
So, for the first time, U.S. Bank tried public relations. "Your Business Today" stories emphasized "news you can use," and demonstrated the bank's understanding of the challenges self-employed individuals face, from hiring and human resources issues to government and policy changes; from sales and business development tips to advice on achieving balance between work and family.
Quantitative and Qualitative: A benchmark study was conducted before the launch and after six months to evaluate awareness, effectiveness and perceptions of “Your Business Today.” Qualitative interviews were also conducted with small business experts, business owners and U.S. Bank small business experts. (Post-quantitative and qualitative key findings are included in Results).
“Your Business Today” needed to be viewed as a credible news source for small business owners in order to maintain the integrity of the news program. Listeners were never given information specific to U.S. Bank. Rather, U.S. Bank was positioned as understanding small business owners by "sponsoring" an information-rich news program, which also uniquely filled a void in broadcast news. The integration of the campaign was executed through the combined use of public relations, media, creative, advertising account planning, interactive design and research departments, which coalesced into a seamless program.
The "Your Business Today" daily radio program was launched in March 2000, and airs on the number one-ranked news/talk station in each key U.S. Bank market during morning and evening drive times.
Accompanying the program was a media kit distributed to media in each market where the program airs. A modified kit was distributed internally within U.S. Bank to all executives, small business bankers and product managers. Branch signage to promote the program was developed, as well as sales tools and premium items displaying the “Your Business Today” logo (T-shirts and travel coffee mugs).
In order to expand the program's reach via print media and web sites, content partnerships were formed with minority business publications, online news sources, and government/non-profit organizations (SCORE, The Kauffman Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership, SBA). Finally, a graphic/logo was developed in order to demonstrate a distinctive look and feel, and the style guides were extended to all collateral materials and the web site.
SUMMARY OF RESULTS:
The “Your Business Today” campaign achieved its objectives as follows:
Quantitative Key Findings
Unaided awareness of U.S. Bank as “a bank that provides financial products and services to small businesses” was 60% when asked of those who recalled hearing “Your Business Today.”
43% recalling the program were interested in seeking more information.
Achieved 22% true awareness among small business owners who listen to the radio stations on which “Your Business Today” airs.
Qualitative Key Findings
Small business experts wish to be affiliated with the program. They have offered to be guest hosts, and want to be interviewed more frequently.
Radio stations report that listeners are calling in to find out more information and stations say that the program can only help their ratings.
- Internal awareness of the program increased and U.S. Bank’s small business division was favorably positioned within the bank. In particular, extremely positive banker feedback -- the program gives bankers a conversation starter for sales calls.