Winning PR stories

Strong media relations propels Peppercomm’s campaign for Wilmington Trust to award-winning success

How do you position a 110-year-old financial institution as one that changes with the times, continues to provide contemporary counsel, and has its finger on the pulse of the industry? Peppercomm was charged with this task when it began working with Wilmington Trust in 2015.

Peppercomm’s first objective was to conduct an in-depth positioning audit to determine how Wilmington Trust and its competitors are perceived in the marketplace and to derive a positioning statement from that. Once completed, the next step was to engage in a robust media relations campaign to drive the Wilmington Trust messaging to its key audiences. Read on to find out about Peppercomm’s superb positioning campaign for its client, one that achieved these goals and much more—and earned the firm and its client a Silver Award in the “Best Investment, Banking and Financial Services Campaign” category in Bulldog Reporter’s 2016 Media Relations Awards.

Key Challenges: The greatest challenge was to develop a positioning message for Wilmington Trust’s three business units and then employ all media relations efforts around the common theme and messaging. The Peppercomm team did this by helping to define Wilmington Trust as a trusted advisor for clients that could handle some of the most complex transactions in the industry.

Insights and Research: Peppercomm began the positioning audit by conducting interviews with 13 internal stakeholders, followed by six interviews externally with media that cover the financial space. The team also conducted a competitor audit. Based on the findings, Peppercomm saw great opportunity to help Wilmington Trust go to market focusing on its relationship-driven approach and ability to manage very complicated financial situations for both wealthy families and institutions.

This led the team to its most important insight from the positioning audit—to define the brand’s go-to-market positioning as bringing simplicity to complexity. The firm used this common thread across all three business lines to unite them and drive corporate reputation.

“The team studied media trends to find topics relevant to Wilmington Trust then inserted the company into the larger conversation as a source that can explain complex matters in a concise way,” Jackie Kolek, Partner and Managing Director, Peppercomm offers. “The topics included: residential mortgage-backed securities, estate planning, succession planning, philanthropic giving, endowments and marketplace commentary. Using these topics to participate in the news cycle allowed Peppercomm to establish relationships between Wilmington Trust experts and the appropriate journalists.”

Creative Execution: Peppercomm kicked off its media relations work by supporting the Wilmington Trust Global Capital Markets (GCM) team at one of its key industry events for asset-backed securities. They worked with the conference organizers to secure lists of media attending, and pitched the potential for on-site interviews or phone calls. Throughout this effort, they used the new positioning statement as a call to introduce media to the firm. The team was able to secure interviews and coverage with key trade magazines in the space. Peppercomm worked with the GCM team for other subsequent events throughout the year, garnering media interviews and coverage for those as well and continuing to push the clarity from complexity message.

Building off this momentum, Peppercomm started working with the Wilmington Trust asset management division. “We developed a relationship with the chief investment officer, and the firm’s chief economist, along with other markets experts,” Kolek relates. “We then connected them with the media at the most critical news junctures—when the new GDP figures and jobs reports numbers were released, and other large market fluctuations. The team also worked with experts on specific markets, such as Puerto Rico and Greece and the challenges those geographies were facing. As a regular stream of media coverage coalesced, the momentum of media interactions increased due to both greater awareness among journalists of Wilmington Trust’s thought leadership, and higher comfort levels of experts for interviews.”

To add to these efforts, Peppercomm began engaging Wilmington Trust in social media by providing suggested weekly LinkedIn posts for the corporate LinkedIn page. These posts served to highlight media coverage, new thought leadership articles, and third-party industry insight. To keep track of successes, Peppercomm engaged its Research and Analytics group to run quarterly measurement reports on all the Wilmington Trust traditional and social media coverage, and how it fared versus competitors.

The Results: In 2015, Peppercomm secured 50 media hits for Wilmington Trust, with a reach of more than 1.1 billion. Among all media hits, 37 were in top-tier media, including USA Today, CNBC, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, CNN Money, Reuters, Bloomberg Business, The Street, Yahoo! Finance, International Business Times, NPR and Fox Business. Extensive coverage also included several hits in critical industry trade magazines, such as Asset-Backed Alert, SNL Financial and Global Capital for GCM, and ThinkAdvisor, Financial Advisor IQ, Private Wealth, and Family Wealth Report for Wealth Advisory.

“We originally conducted a positioning audit to develop a brand positioning message reflecting Wilmington Trust’s position as a renowned and trusted partner that brings clarity to the most complex financial transactions,” says Kolek. “True to this messaging, the 50 media hits we received covered a wide expanse of intricate topics where Wilmington Trust inserted its voice as an expert.”

n true form to the message of simplifying complexity, the media hits covered a wide expanse of intricate topics where Wilmington Trust inserted its voice as an expert. “For example, one of our first top tier media hits was for a New York Times article discussing the complexities of the late Robin Williams’ estate and how others can avoid such problems,” Kolek offers. “On the institutional side, we arranged conversations with the media around the topic of residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) and how Wilmington Trust sees private-label RMBS continuing to rise.”

The effort further enhanced the firm’s sophisticated campaign strategy: “We learned that it is most beneficial to start with a defined positioning message first and then work all your media relations efforts around the common theme and messaging,” Kolek says. “Our work also reaffirmed that keeping your client relevant to the news of the day is key.”

Secrets to Success: Kolek provides some key takeaways from the campaign’s success, offering insights into how you can garner similar results from your next effort—and demonstrating why Peppercomm and Wilmington Trust garnered a prestigious Silver win in Bulldog’s 2016 Media Relations Awards:

  • Differentiate your Client: “Find the one thing that sets your client’s brand apart from everyone else in the industry.”
  • Understand Your Competition: “Make sure you have a good sense of what competitors are saying in the market and what others are saying about them and their industry.”
  • Implement Effective Positioning: “Be sure you are following through on the client positioning with every media touchpoint and that you are setting them apart from the way competitors are positioned.”
View their profile Winning PR Stories archive