Editors and reporters with the insurance trade media rely on public relations professionals with insurance brands to research and create stories. But there’s plenty of room for insurance marketers to change and improve in their trade media publicity efforts, judging by comments from the trade media.
Those are two key conclusions from an Aartrijk survey of key insurance trade media editors and reporters.
The online survey garnered 17 responses (and thus is more useful for qualitative results than for statistically valid quantitative results) and was conducted in 2011. It found that:
- Nearly every editor/reporter has written feature stories based on story pitches via phone calls and email messages from companies or public relations firms.
- Story ideas come most frequently from editors’ and reporters’ own colleagues within the insurance trade media. But meetings and trade shows are nearly as important, with nine of 10 respondents saying they were a source for bylined articles or feature stories.
- Two-thirds of respondents view working with publicists as productive, with 12 of 17 respondents agreeing that PR people give them “a good amount” of value through their interactions.
At Aartrijk, we view working with the insurance trade media as a triply-good proposition: Pitching story ideas, responding to media requests for information, and providing interviews:
1) Puts a brand and its sources in the insurance trade media in the editorial coverage, where they can be seen and heard by potential business partners, customers and peers.
2) Provides insurance trade media editors and reporters with sources and story ideas they wouldn’t be exposed to otherwise.
3) Adds to the overall level of coverage and awareness of relevant issues, concerns and news in the business-to-business space.
Besides all that, most of us at Aartrijk worked in the insurance trade media in some fashion and continue to contribute articles ourselves to the media. Many of us are writers at heart and we instinctively appreciate what a publication and its reporters are aiming to do: Provide information and a forum for industry discussion. Trade publicity was one of the cornerstone services of Aartrijk when it was formed in 1999. Today it is still a fundamental insurance marketing service we provide and especially appreciate when it works well for our insurance marketing clients.
Editors and reporters made several comments — including, shall we say, constructive comments — about the value they receive in working with publicists with insurance brands:
- “I get good ideas and support from publicists who know the insurance industry, but not often from those who don’t. Extraneous.”
- “On the insurance company PR side, I find value in PR people who share stories about agents who are doing interesting things, or who offer industry trend observations that can become good story ideas.”
- “It’s annoying when they are too aggressive or the opposite: nonresponsive.”
- “… I occasionally encounter PR people who do not read our publication and pitch stories of no interest to our readers.”
To gather ideas about how insurance brands could better serve the insurance trade media, one question was: What is one thing you need or want from insurance sources that you’re not getting? The answers are a trove of insight:
- “Well written press releases with substantive information.”
- “A better understanding of their subject’s role in the insurance environment. You can tell in a second if the PR person has an insurance background or understanding.”
- “Exclusive original content.”
- “More in-depth information and less puffery.”
- “When I’m provided sources by a publicist/PR firm, I rarely have complaints. The firm prepares the source, perhaps by asking for questions in advance. The source has set aside a block of time for our interview, doesn’t put me on hold to take another call, isn’t distracted.”
- “More on-the-ground observations of agents doing great things — the broader I can cast the net for interesting sources, the better. We hate using the same sources again and again!”
- “I hate it that I have to go through PR people to get to many of my insurance industry sources. I’ve begun to put out my first calls to lower level, less-prestigious firms that give me immediate access without making me call a control-freakish PR person first to get “help” with arranging an interview.”
- “Fewer story ideas that are thinly veiled self-promotion.”
- “Good quotes that aren’t manicured with talking points.”
- “I don’t get enough information about topics of interest and concern to our audience of independent property/casualty agency principals and owners. I get way too much extraneous/irrelevant info from the e-mail blasters.”
- “Not in every case, but one of the biggest frustrations and sources of stress in a business in which you have to rely on others to get back to you is the lack of a timely response.”
In a future blog post, I’ll cover “pet peeves” about how PR people work with the insurance trade media — as perceived by editors and reporters.