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How can the insurance sector use PR to repair its reputation?

PR has not been the priority for many in the insurance sector in previous years. Whether this is because the big, grim headlines tend to affect clients rather than insurers themselves - and the insurers are usually called upon to help clear up after disasters or loss - or simply a lack of familiarity, it’s a situation that urgently needs to change. Given the loss of trust that many have experienced where insurers are concerned, what can be done to help repair the reputation of the sector using this highly influential tool?

How can the insurance sector use PR to repair its reputation

Ethics vs legal correctness

As we have seen with many policies that are related to COVID, insurers that have good grounds to take a certain position legally may not fare quite so well when it comes to ethical perceptions. This balance between what is technically and legally correct and what meets expectations about ethics is one that needs careful consideration. Accusations of insurers prioritising profits over ethics have left a sour taste in the mouth in the wake of the pandemic and many consumers have become increasingly wary as a result. Being able to very publicly do the right thing is a simple and fast way to repair reputational damage. If it comes to the crunch it may be necessary to balance the cost of defending a technical position against the potential future loss of business that could result from the reputational damage of doing so.

Taking action in a crisis

Crisis communication is an essential part of business continuity and can be a vital tool in helping to build a positive reputation. Any issue on the risk register potentially relates to reputation and it’s vital that there is communication throughout an organisation when it comes to management. Hiring a specialist or ensuring that there are internal skills to cope with crisis communications is going to be essential. The earlier a situation such as this is dealt with the less scope there will be for it to escalate into something more serious. Mitigation of a crisis further down the line always begins with communication channels being activated as soon as it is clear that something is wrong.

Strong media relations provide a firm foundation

Many insurers have come to see the media or journalists as the enemy, perhaps due to bad press coverage in the past. However, the reality is that strong media relations are vital to using PR to repair a reputation. In the highly connected era in which we live it’s no longer acceptable to simply stick your head in the sand and hope a situation blows over, especially in the case of the damage that has been done to the insurance sector as a result of COVID challenges. It’s much more effective to grasp the nettle, forget direct contacts with press and communications representatives and start creating a new narrative.

There are many ways in which the insurance sector can use PR to start repairing its reputation in the wake of COVID.

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