Some industries are, let’s be honest, just a little bit less exciting than others. Insurance can fall firmly into the ‘dry’ camp naturally, which can make developing an effective PR strategy for your insurance brand a bit of a challenge. We’ve looked at how some insurers have managed to stand out and achieve great PR results and, combined with our own experience in this sector, have compiled some tips for any brand in this industry to help make their own PR activity more effective.
Insurance is a necessity in our lives. Whether it’s legally required insurance for cars, homes or businesses, or elective insurance to help protect the people and things we care about, like pets, belongings, health or income, we pretty much all need it to some degree. But looking into and choosing insurance isn’t generally something that most people enjoy or look forward to – it’s seen as a chore; a necessary evil. PR probably can’t turn insurance into a joy for every customer, but it can make all the difference to how your brand is perceived and be a way to differentiate you from the competition.
An effective PR strategy can enable you to build a brand reputation that generates recognition and trust in your target audience in a way that nothing else can. By generating coverage from publications, titles, media and brands that your potential customers are interested in and influenced by, PR can get you in front of the right people with the messages that you want to communicate, driving more policy conversions and renewals than you might expect.
Insurance is incredibly competitive, even for the more niche products. If dozens, or even hundreds, or other brands offer pretty much the same cover as you do, for a similar price, how can you stand out? PR; that’s how. It enables you to create a brand personality and position yourself as more than just another insurance company. With the right approach, you can become known as an expert in your field, a thought leader in a specific type of insurance, an innovative brand and one that sticks in the memory of potential new customers.
Insurers can have a bit of reputation problem. Brands in this industry and their products are often seen as unnecessarily complicated, confusing and even misleading. A good PR strategy can counteract this for your brand, positioning you as transparent, straight-talking and customer-centric.
Whilst branding and PR are separate entities in their own right, they can work hand in hand to reinforce your proposition, amplify the messages that matter and cut through the noise in a busy marketplace.
Whilst your insurance brand might not have a meerkat or an opera-singing moustachioed chap at your beck and call, your PR ideas can still make a splash and achieve good results. As with PR activity for any industry, you’ll need assets to generate newsworthy content. Some of the proven types of asset or campaign include:
Whether it’s a whole brand launch or a new policy or service area launch, getting the message out can make a big difference to the splash that it makes. Standard media relations, like pre-pitching and lining up interviews ahead of the launch can all help produce a bigger impact and the story has to have something new, unusual or a personal note behind it in order for it to resonate.
In a 2016 insurtech launch, Inzura released the news that they would be using smartphone data and photo recognition to calculate policies.
As an insurance company, you’re likely to have access to a wealth of data that no one else has; it’s exclusively yours. Utilising this data means you can create unique news that no one else has access to, which gives you a great opportunity to own the conversation. A great example of this is Co-op Insurance’s 2017 campaign that includes data about young driver insurance claims for accidents and looks at the ‘safest’ used cars for young or newly qualified drivers to buy.
Whilst the more niche insurance companies may need to dig a little deeper to find the gold in their own data, many insurers have a wealth of possibilities simply in the quote, application or claim data they hold simply through the course of general business. For example, every pet insurance quote form asks for the species, breed and purchase price of the pet. When you look at that data on a national scale, what is the country’s most expensive breed of dog – or the cheapest? How does that vary between regions of the UK?
Any story theme around something with broad appeal, like pets, cars, families, travel, health, safety and consumer finances etc will stand a great chance of picking up coverage.
If you don’t have access to enough of your own data to generate a great story (perhaps if your company is fairly new and you don’t have the volume of customers or claims to draw robust conclusions yet) then you can conduct your own research with a consumer survey.
The possibilities are virtually endless with this type of activity. Niche insurer Cycleplan recently launched a campaign to raise awareness about cycle safety, and incorporated the results of a nationwide survey of cyclists they carried out which showed the UK cities in which cyclists feel most unsafe, as well as providing stats on injuries, attitudes towards government policy on cycling, changes that would make them feel safer and individual experiences, amongst other things.
When you’re dealing with data, effective storytelling is the only way to get your message across in a compelling way. Stats alone are simply dull, unless they are woven into a story that is both interesting and new. The context of your media pitch can make all the difference.
Another way to use data as a news generation tool, especially useful if you have time but not the budget for a consumer survey, is to use existing data that is already in the public domain, but compile it and tell a story that is different to what anyone else has done already on the subject. Compare the Market’s team pulled together data from over 30 sources to develop the Pet Rich List in 2018 and promote their pet insurance product.
Another example of a similar approach is using Google trend and search data to create a story. Admiral brand Veygo produced a story on the world’s most desired car brands by looking at global search data for manufacturer’s names.
There are two main ways in which an individual face at an insurance brand can showcase their industry expertise to journalists and media. Hiding behind the brand itself won’t work though; there needs to be a real person who can act as the media face of the brand to ensure authenticity.
Ensuring that you are the ‘go-to’ expert in a given area related to insurance isn’t easy, but with good media relations activity, you can end up being the person that journalists call when they want a comment or opinion on a relevant story that is in the news.
Releasing a short expert comment to press on a topical story can also gain coverage if the news story is likely to be ongoing or change over time, so the journalists will most likely be writing follow-up pieces. This could be opinion, or it could be actual company news that relates to the event.
For example, Aviva released news recently about the expected cost of COVID-19 claims to their business.
Whilst it certainly can’t be used with every kind of new story, one way to maximise your coverage and take some ground with both audiences is to develop separate comms for the same campaign for both consumer media and trade titles. By using the same data set or other news, you can make the most of the opportunity if there is a way to leverage a relevant story in both of these ways.
For example, using the same set of data generated by a survey they ran, By Miles released a story to insurance trade media encouraging insurers to do more for drivers using their cars less after the COVID-19 lockdown and used a different angle to focus on the environmental impact of less emissions for a totally separate story.
As always, the comms themselves are important and shouldn’t be underestimated, but the campaign story itself, the quality of the assets produced to support it (graphics, maps, interactive tools etc) can also play a big part in getting the coverage you want.
PR is undoubtedly an important tool for insurance firms to use for increasing brand awareness but in order for it to bring multiple benefits, this type of activity can be incorporated into a wider marketing strategy.
For example, gaining links with your PR coverage can be a real boost for your website’s visibility in organic search engine results, and if the assets you create for the news story are hosted on your site, this can also drive referral traffic and additional links.
PR can be a vital part of multi-channel campaigns to get your brand in front of relevant people as well as having standalone activity to ensure you get the best possible results and return.
If you would like to find out how we can help your PR strategy go further and make maximum impact, get in touch with Hitsearch today.