The small business lending market in California is highly competitive. California Bank & Trust, a regional bank based in California with more than $10 billion in assets and nearly 100 branches throughout the State, needed a point of differentiation to raise its profile among small businesses throughout California and compete with other banks also targeting similar segments. LCI was challenged with raising the bank’s profile among small businesses throughout the State.
LCI introduced a small business survey in 2012 demonstrating the bank’s expertise and commitment to small business and as a means of increasing brand awareness for the bank. The inaugural survey focused on banking and financial issues and was a great platform for introducing the survey to the media. With the third installment of the small business survey in 2014, LCI made a strategic decision to expand its demographic reach. LCI also asked small businesses about current news issues, including regulatory and environmental issues such as the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare National Health Initiative), the California drought and pending minimum wage increases. In addition, topics such as the economy, investment plans, hiring, growth plans and banking/financial needs were expanded to hone in on more wide-reaching issues.
The survey results illustrated a more competitive picture of the small business environment in California. LCI analyzed the results which included a surprising news nugget that 86 percent of small business owners indicate growing optimism in the business environment with nearly two-thirds of respondents (63%) saying that the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare had a neutral or positive impact on their business. LCI leveraged the results to develop a news-friendly infographic to capture the attention of the news media.
This information was packaged into pitches for reporters based on beat as well as an overarching, mainstream press release. Prior to the planned release of the survey results, LCI had preview conversations with select reporters. This heads-up provided many reporters the opportunity to plan ahead and time stories for the release of the survey, in effect laying the groundwork for the survey to gain momentum among the media. LCI planned the survey a week prior to Small Business Week as a means of standing out from a crowded marketplace during that week. LCI also supported this announcement with social and digital media, leveraging information and content on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn as well as including an infograph with the survey press release.
PR Campaign Results
- LCI secured more than 50 million impressions through nearly 400 media outlets include Wall Street Journal, New York Times, the local San Diego affiliate of NBC and American Banker, the leading industry banking publication in the U.S.
- Traffic to the online survey results doubled compared to the year prior (4,700 page visits in May 2014 compared to 2,400 in May 2013), leading to more awareness of the bank’s small business resources and financial products.
- Social media activity doubled during that period and email inquiries from small businesses also increased during that period
- Nearly all business journals throughout California, a primary target for California Bank & Trust, covered the results. These outlets included Silicon Valley Business Journal, Los Angeles Business Journal and San Diego Business Journal.
- Additional coverage included Bloomberg, Reuters, USA Today, regional newspapers such as the Sacramento Bee and Central Valley Business Times and broadcast outlets such KPBS
- With information pertaining to the Affordable Care Act, California Healthline also covered the results.