Holmes Report 17 Aug 2011 // 11:00PM GMT
The financial crisis brought massive attention to the banking sector over the last year, culminating in the Dodd-Frank regulatory overhaul bill signed into law by President Obama in late July. As the industry reacted to events that led up to that milestone, the Deloitte banking PR team (including agency Hill & Knowlton) recognized there was going to be an unprecedented business opportunity to leverage Deloitte’s depth of expertise—particularly in operational and regulatory consulting – to capture a strengthened marketplace position.
Because this is a bellwether industry for Deloitte and an industry where many consultants target given banks’ expenditures, the PR team developed a media strategy that focused on the effect that financial regulation could have on Deloitte’s clients, both as legislation made its way through Washington and—continuing today—as rules are promulgated and implemented by the industry.
While still ongoing, the campaign has been a stunning success: revenues in the relevant business unit are up 20%, while Deloitte has an 86% share of voice amongst key competitors in the most important financial media. To put this in perspective, five years ago Deloitte ranked third among the top nine consultancies in share of voice; today it is number one.
The Deloitte banking PR team’s primary objective was to help position Deloitte as a go-to firm that can help provide solutions to the pressing questions facing its banking & securities clients, especially in those areas seen as having the biggest business opportunities. Supporting objectives included:
• Driving the debate among Deloitte’s competitor set on navigating the near- and long-term effects of the financial crisis and implementation of the Dodd-Frank Act.
• Leading the conversation on additional key business issues such as regulatory compliance, risk management, rebuilding bank balance sheets and new business models.
• Helping the firm be one of the first to market with insightful analysis of what the resulting legislation likely means to Deloitte’s client base.
Deloitte is in a category of one when it comes to having the full range of services the banking and securities industry requires, including audit, risk, tax, financial advisory, and consulting services. Deloitte’s U.S. financial services industry practice provides professional services across a span of financial organizations including top banks, full-service securities firms and federal banking regulators and policymakers.
Our program focused on awareness building and influencing the decision-makers and C-level officers at these financial services organizations via the media channel.
Deloitte’s national PR team worked closely with the leadership of its banking practice to understand its business priorities and map the issues around potential banking reform that would be most important to its banking clients.
The PR team also worked with media metrics firm, Cision, to track and analyze coverage of professional services competitors in the banking space. Insights drawn from that process influenced the team’s key strategies— especially in helping identify those that would resonate with media. These issues primarily centered on the effect that financial regulation could have on regulatory compliance, risk management and new business models.
The research also helped in identifying tactics that would drive greater media attention and reach. Our analysis illustrated the value of releasing primary research and bylines with compelling data to a targeted group of top-tier journalists based on their past stories, depth of knowledge and the frequency of additional pick-up, particularly for wire services and syndicated columnists.
As proposed banking reform was an evolving issue that had many twists and turns—where certain aspects of reform were inserted into the bill one month and dropped the next—there were continual strategy refreshes during this year-long effort.
Our strategy recognized that the PR team had to execute over three distinct phases of the reform process:
• Phase one (Pre-Reform—February to June 2009): Using background briefings, specific media/issue targeting and spokesperson preparation to position Deloitte before legislation began coming through Congress.
• Phase two (The Reform Debate—June 2009 to July 2010): As legislation began building, positioning Deloitte to provide commentary on Capitol Hill developments and their possible client impacts.
• Phase three (Reform Implementation—July 2010 to present): The period after the legislation’s signing, where we positioned Deloitte’s expertise “post day-one” on Dodd-Frank’s impact and how clients should be thinking about compliance. This phase continues today.
Two other key pillars of our strategy:
• Faced with very active competitors and scores of journalists covering the financial crisis, we would use an intensive, focused approach targeting specific journalists and outlets driving the larger media discussion.
• To drive debate on the overarching theme of financial regulation, the team developed a strategy around key platforms important to the Deloitte business, like risk management. Against each platform, the team identified key spokespeople, opportunities for commentary, whitepaper ideas to highlight knowledge, and perspective on the current media appetite.
• Anticipating news — Where the attention will turn next in a very active media environment, identifying the right opportunities and developing appropriate messaging/positioning against key platforms.
• Setting the stage with journalists — Briefings between partners and key reporters throughout the year, followed by interviews.
• Helping steer Deloitte’s message in white papers — Influencing topics for white papers, providing input on the most newsworthy angles and leveraging these papers and other thought leadership materials for high-impact placements.
• Executing an intensive webcast program — In order to communicate directly with clients and also position Deloitte as an insightful commentator about regulatory reform, we executed a series of webcasts for clients and journalists. One such webcast, held a week after the signing, brought more than 4,000 clients and reinforced messages Deloitte was sharing through the broader overall banking media relations program.
• Capitalizing on client events — Like October 8’s “Integrating Global Regulatory Reform,” which drew more than 30 media attendees and cameras from three business channels.
• Highlighting strong senior-level hires — Media outreach around individuals like Deborah Bailey from the Federal Reserve Board, who had responsibility for running the US stress test efforts in 2009.
• Developing and placing bylines and op-eds.
Following Dodd-Frank’s passage, we evaluated media coverage, and that of our competitors. Deloitte overwhelmingly drove the debate—over the past year, Deloitte banking’s team took the share of voice lead and has remained in first place with an 86% share of reach in top-tier and banking-focused media. Related white papers showed up in numerous stories and Deloitte was first to market with a big-picture white paper hitting just before Dodd-Frank’s signing, beating all key competitors and delivering our key implementation focus areas directly to 40,000 banking clients during the first month alone.
“With the industry in so much turmoil and executives looking for insight, Deloitte’s PR team was really able to take our leaders out into the marketplace to help those banking executives better understand the challenges they face,” said Jim Reichbach, vice chairman and the leader of Deloitte’s financial services industry group.
The PR program has positively impacted the practice’s revenues, as we saw several client opportunities come directly from our efforts. In the three months since June 2010, when interest in Dodd-Frank Act-related services was greatest, Deloitte’s banking consulting and regulatory teams were collectively up more than 20% in revenue over the previous year.