Best Use of Media Relations
A PR bet on Bitcoin paid handsome brand awareness dividends for eToro that translated into significant levels of customer acquisition and real value to the business. Media relations was at the heart of the campaign, with great targeting from fintech to national media. Executed with a clear passion for the subject, the team at Headland put in the legwork to build eToro’s credentials so that they could become the leading commentator on crypto currency.
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Brief and objectives:
eToro is a social trading and investing platform, enabling people to trade a range of assets online (from commodities and equities to cryptocurrencies). The platform allows users to copy the investing strategies of other users on the platform. Headland was hired to raise awareness of eToro’s offer and grow its customer base (then 6m).
Rationale behind campaign, including research and planning:
Conversations with relevant journalists revealed a significant barrier to raising awareness among potential customers. Media were not interested in a view from eToro on its product areas. Competition for market commentary on asset classes such as commodities was high. Established financial institutions and market analysts held more sway with media. To address this challenge, two key insights underpinned our campaign:
- Find an asset class the incumbent players did not own: in early 2017 we identified through desk research and media / social search analysis (using Factiva, Spreadfast, Onalytica) that interest in crypto-currencies was growing. We decided to focus communications activity on crypto-currencies, where competition was significantly less, but the potential for future news value was high.
- Give trading and investment a new voice: most traders commenting on their investments in the media work for big, opaque institutions. eToro’s customers are different. We would tell their stories to show eToro’s point of difference as a business and open-up comment opportunities.
Strategy and tactics, including creativity and innovation:
In March 2017 coverage of crypto-currencies was limited. Our strategy was to position eToro and its users as the authority on crypto-currencies, as the debate became increasingly mainstream. Tactics included:
- Creating a unique everyday opinion: worked with eToro analyst Mati Greenspan to distribute morning analysis on crypto-currency markets. We made this informal and more accessible than daily markets notes from financial institutions.
- Telling our customers’ stories: we unearthed Jay Smith and Ste Bliss, users of the platform who regularly traded crypto-currencies. Both were the antithesis of an archetypal City worker – one quit his job to trade full time, the other owned a burger van and traded in his spare time. We equipped them to tell the story of eToro’s business model through the lens of their own success.
- Using eToro’s data to be one-step ahead: users of eToro share their investment and trading ideas through the platform. This conversation, combined with data on crypto trading volumes on the platform hinted when market moving events were due. We constantly monitored this information to ensure we engaged media before anyone else.
Implementation of tactics:
As crypto-currencies became increasingly mainstream, coverage moved from crypto and tech trades, to tech nationals, to personal finance nationals to lifestyle titles and broadcast. We tailored our pitches for each media audience as the debate unfolded.
MARCH – JULY 2017:
State of media debate: Limited media coverage of crypto-currencies. Viewed as niche market.
Activity and rationale: Position eToro as an authority on crypto and build media relationships early:
- eToro explainer sessions with interested national media
- Sharing daily market opinion
- Media alerts on eToro user data showing growing base of customers trading cryptocurrency
AUGUST – NOVEMBER 2017:
State of media debate: Crypto-currency price volatility hits mainstream national news.
Activity and rationale: Capitalise on relationships built in early stages to be first in line for comment:
- Reactive commentary on market events
- Thought leadership on whether price hikes signal “bubble territory”
DECEMBER 2017 – JANUARY 2018:
State of media debate: Crypto debate in papers almost daily with national media understanding growing. Debate quickly moved from tech nationals looking at what crypto was, to personal finance nationals looking at what this meant for investors.
Activity and rationale: We capitalised on media interest in who the typical crypto trader was:
- Pitched case studies of eToro users telling their stories of trading crypto to personal finance media and broadcasters
JANUARY – FEBRUARY 2018
State of debate: Crypto price swings at start of the year cause alarm and increase national media scrutiny of cryptocurrencies.
Activity and rationale: There’s now an increased risk of negative association with crypto as mainstream media look at the risks for investors:
- Pitch “how to invest” tips from eToro spokespeople and our users to provide guidance on risks to watch for / how to invest in crypto safely.
Measurement and evaluation:
OWNING THE CRYPTOCURRENCY DEBATE
In 2016 (before we were appointed), eToro was mentioned in 80 pieces of coverage, no nationals. By February 2018, we secured 2,023 pieces of coverage, including 264 pieces of national coverage.
- Included multiple articles in the Financial Times, The Telegraph, The Daily Mail, BBC News (online), Daily Express, The Sun, The Metro, The Independent, CNBC, VICE, The Times, Reuters, as well as broadcast interviews on Bloomberg TV, BBC Moneybox, BBC News Channel, BBC World Service and BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme.
- Lifestyle coverage includes a double page feature in Square Mile magazine and on Channel 4’s ‘How to get rich quick’ programme
USING CASE STUDIES TO TELL THE STORY
- Case study Jay featured in 11 pieces of coverage, including a 1500-word feature on Bloomberg.
- Positioned case study Ste Bliss as an overnight sensation, with his trading success story told in the likes of The Mirror, the Daily Mail, The Sun and The Metro.
- eToro customers now 9m+ (from 6m in March 2017).
- eToro’s share-of-voice against its competitors was market-leading by the end of 2017.
- By the end of 2017, thousands of customers were joining eToro on a daily basis, the vast majority in the UK (despite the platform operating in 80 countries). The CEO attributed this success to PR activity, which was the predominant part of the marketing mix. To put this commercial success into context – in a single day in December 2017, eToro was on-boarding as many customers in a 24-hour period as they had done in the whole of 2016. 200 extra customer service people were hired to handle demand.
- UK Managing Director of eToro (our lead spokesperson), who previously had no media profile, was appointed Chair of a new self-regulatory crypto-currency body, Crypto UK, at the start of 2018 on account of his profile and credibility in the space.
- “Headland has helped eToro grow exponentially in the past 12 months. They have turned us into a media machine and a leading voice on all things crypto.” – Iqbal Gandham, UK MD,
Budget and cost effectiveness:
Budget: £186,000 fee (March 2017 – February 2018)