Insurance in Plain English

Reaching the next generation of insurance consumers

Posts Tagged ‘reputation

ROI: Ridiculous, obsolete idea?

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Shame on me. It’s been a week. I blame a lot of things, not the least of which was the shock associated with the LOST series finale.

This interview of Ryan Hanley (a fellow resident of beautiful Albany), conducted by Peter van Aartrijk and Rick Morgan, got me thinking about one of the topics du jour in social media, the search for return on investment.

According to Ryan,

Everyone says, well, what’s your ROI? At this point in the social media movement, to try to slap ROI on it and make a business decision is going to be tough to do. Because it’s hard to calculate.

Don’t I know it! How can I provide quantified, tangible results explaining how valuable my organization’s Twitter accounts are? How can I create a correlation between our LinkedIn groups and sales? How do I explain that no, I’m not just fooling around on the ‘net, I’m actually building relationships? It’s not easy. Heck, it’s pretty close to impossible.

Well, all this talk about ROI made me nostalgic. For the past six months, I’ve been immersed in my (finally completed) master’s thesis, AKA the bane of my existence, which focused on measurement in an area equally as intangible as social media, public relations. Think about it: How do you measure reputation? How do you measure client perception?  Same issue.

A bit of self-plagiarism, and the complication of measurement is clear,

With sales, one can measure end-of-year figures against a set of objectives at the beginning of the year. But public relations is much more nebulous; how can you measure the goal of increased visibility and awareness? How can you track all the instances that a consumer recalled your brand as a result of some positive press he or she read in the local newspaper? Such black-and-white, A-to-B type measurement is not just impractical, but also, nearly impossible to conduct in this field.

While my very own words seem to echo the advice of those who say we need to look past ROI, I don’t completely agree. Measurement is still important.  It helps to determine if our efforts were effective and to decide which strategies to keep, which to trash. It makes us more reflective, and, ultimately, better practitioners. As one scholar put it, “You can only manage what you measure.” But, I do think that today’s measurement techniques need to be different than what we’ve relied on in the past.

So what do you think? Is the concept of ROI in public relations and social media as outdated as the betamax?

Coming soon … well, smarty pants, how DO we measure reputation? Stay tuned …

Written by melissa

May 27, 2010 at 3:31 pm

You should give a damn about your bad reputation

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Pop culture has been skewering the insurance industry for years. The loss of insurance coverage is a popular topic, as is the storyline of someone being conned into purchasing an unnecessary policy.

It’s no big secret that the industry suffers from a terrible reputation. Beyond the more obvious “insurance companies are evil and stealing money from little old ladies” claims, there is also the feeling that we are a quite boring and downright mean industry (think Mr. Incredible as claims adjuster).

Bad reputation is a huge part of the reason why we struggle to draw young blood into the industry. After all, who wants to be involved in a stodgy, inflexible, deceptive business?

You can’t afford to be like Joan Jett; reputation is everything. And there are plenty of recommendations out there for how insurance professionals can win back respect and improve their reputation; the National Underwriter’s Sam Friedman has been a vocal contributor to this discussion, even suggesting there be an insurance-related reality television show (I’d watch.).

I’m a proponent of taking small steps as individuals. Provide stellar service to clients. Ask for referrals. Use new technologies to your advantage. Talk up the industry; make it cool (yes, cool) to be an insurance professional.

Any insight on how you think insurance professionals can work to improve the industry’s image?

Written by melissa

May 20, 2010 at 9:06 am

It’s all a matter of trust

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There’s a reason why the Bad Pitch blog exists: lazy public relations professionals.

Media relations, in particular, gets a terrible rap, especially when you talk to journalists. There have been a host of articles on this subject, from public relations and journalism professionals alike, but it all can be boiled down to one thing: trust.

Without spending the time to develop solid, trusting relationships with the media, you risk being on the outside looking in. Think about it- how often do you delete strange e-mails, marked “spam,” from senders you don’t know? It’s the same story on the other side of the newsroom, exacerbated even more by the crunch in the industry.

Here are some ideas for building relationships with your target media:

  • Get to know your media. I cannot stress this enough: DO NOT pick up the phone until you’ve done some research. Find out everything you can about your target media.  Doing your homework is vital; know exactly who to call for specific topics. If you have no luck, call up an editorial assistant and inquire about who covers what.
  • Make contact. Don’t let your first contact with a reporter be when you need something; offer your help first. This can be as simple as sending a note to a reporter, suggesting he or she contact you when working on a story in your area of expertise. Offer relevant topic ideas. Make a journalist’s job easier- they are busy folks.
  • Keep in touch. Send a reporter links to news stories that may be of interest. When working with local media, offer suggestions for how to make national issues have a local spin. Comment on a journalist’s blog, send an e-mail about a recent story, stay interested in his or her work.

There’s a good reason the word “relations” is right there in the title of this field- it’s all about developing relationships. Whether that’s with the community at large or targeted media, it all comes down to being a trusted resource for your audience.

Written by melissa

April 27, 2010 at 12:29 pm