Industry Spotlight: 20 Questions with Annmarie Geddes Baribeau
Claimwire Interview by Steve Schmutz
#1 Claimwire: Where did you go to school and what did you study?
I graduated cum laude from Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, but I earned more credit hours in political science.
#2 Claimwire: Can you share something about you that most people wouldn’t know?
My dream is to write historical fiction.
#3 Claimwire: What are some of your hobbies?
Gardening, cooking, sewing and genealogy. I also love to read history and biography. Any book by historian Paul Johnson is a winner!
#4 Claimwire: What people have influenced your life, and in what ways?
The list is eclectic:
Jesus What he says makes more sense to me than even the most modern thinkers.
Dr. Frank J. Henderson. He was a political science professor at Ohio University who valued critical thinking over rote memorization.
Roberta Matty. She gave me my first publishing gig as a weekly columnist at my hometown newspaper when I was in high school. She has been my friend and mentor ever since.
For workers’ compensation, there are so many I could mention. If had to pick out one person, however, it would be Roger Thompson, a retired executive from Traveler’s Insurance. He a true visionary and helped me to become one as well.
#5 Claimwire: What historical figures do you look up to and why?
Abraham Lincoln. His life demonstrates the strength and resilience of the human spirit. He managed to keep this country and his family together while suffering personal loss and caring for his mentally ill wife.
#6 Claimwire: What two or three Smartphone apps do you use the most – for either business or personal use?
LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
I am tired of public policy discussions
that sound like union-management contract negotiations!
That is so last century!
#7 Claimwire: Give us a brief recap of your career.
I started my career as a writer for the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. After that, I was a Cleveland business reporter with my own live-call in radio show. When I moved Washington, D.C. , I became the lead reporter for BNA’s Workers’ Compensation Report.
I started freelancing about 13 years ago. My public relations company has been going strong ever since. It has given me opportunities I would have never enjoyed had I continued as a full-time reporter. I also write freelance articles on occasion.
#8 Claimwire: What factors motivated you the most to start Lipold Communications, LLC?
The pursuit of the so-called family/work life balance.
As I mentioned, my daughter was born and I realized my net income as a full-time reporter did not justify the opportunity costs for my family and me. My company has provided a higher net income on a part-time basis than my previous full-time job. When my second daughter was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes at age 3, I could be there for her and my income did not suffer.
#9 Claimwire: Tell us how Lipold Communications, LLC is doing and what you see in the next two to three years.
My company is doing well. I am the process of developing a new business and marketing plan and re-naming and re-branding my company.
As a sole proprietor, the business plan process includes soul searching. The Internet and social media are offering me new ways to grow my business. The opportunities are both exciting and daunting.
#10 Claimwire: Other than your product, what are the greatest assets and strengths Lipold Communications, LLC has?
It starts with the value proposition. My company offers a unique combination of established insurance industry expertise with nearly all the services you would expect from a public relations company.
When I went into public relations, I promised myself I would never be a propaganda hack! My clients and my company benefit from the journalistic approach to everything. This means asking the tough questions and publishing reliable information that builds trust and credibility for my clients, their current and potential customers, and my business.
#11 Claimwire: If you had to boil Lipold Communications, LLC down to one sentence, what would it be?
Lipold Communications, LLC provides expert insurance public relations services to build trustworthy brands.
#12 Claimwire: What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make as President of Lipold Communications, LLC?
Re-considering my company’s name and direction.
#13 Claimwire: Where do you see the insurance industry headed in the next few years?
Technology will continue to define change in the insurance industry on several levels. Smart apps, gamification and integrated predictive modeling will change even the smallest pieces of the insurance process.
Employees will be able to file a claim through an app, which will guide them to the appropriate doctor for the best immediate medical treatment and begin the claims process.
Since software is becoming more intelligent and intuitive, even new claims examiners will catch potential hitches in the process. Thanks to “integrated predictive modeling,” a term I coined, underwriters will better reward employers who truly follow best practices in workers’ compensation.
Employers who effectively communicate with employees to enhance safety programs and inspire immediate filing of legitimate claims will not have to wait years for their investment to reflect the experience modification factor to save premium dollars. The claim examiner’s app could include return-to-work options already identified by the employer. This also can be factored into the experience mod, which will be extinct in the next 10 years, at least for large employers.
The success of technology relies on effective communication, which is sorely lacking in many areas. Most companies make the mistake of not investing enough in communication and I have seen businesses fail because of it.
From a brand advocacy standpoint, insurers and vendors will pursue “brand journalism,” which is the next step beyond custom content to meet higher reader expectations. Brand journalism combines the tenets of journalism with brand communication to create customer value.
Predictive analytics will continue to be an important way companies will enhance the online customer experience as well. A site featuring the top most popular apps included a recipe for the best grilled cheese sandwich! I went for it!
#14 Claimwire: How important is Social Media to Lipold Communications and to you personally?
It’s importance cannot be overstated. In the communications industry, you either ride the wave or fossilize. There is no middle ground.
For my company, it is changing the work I do. For example, I used to build media lists, now I build influencer lists that include reporters and key players in social media.
It has changed how I market my company. Social media have enhanced my company’s “inbound marketing” by growing my network. My blog attracts new clients.
But like anything else, there is a negative side. Social media requires consistent contributions and interaction and a greater time commitment than traditional approaches.
#15 Claimwire: Related to the last question, on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being an Ultra Power User, what lever of Social Media user are you?
I would say I am a 7 to 8. My LinkedIn profile is among the top five percent most viewed, which points to engagement.
But I am not a social media junkie looking to explore every new medium that comes online. I want to maximize the social mediums I currently use first. Let someone else figure out how to use Pinterest for marketing workers’ compensation!
#16 Claimwire: If you could hire any famous person to be the spokesperson for Lipold Communications, LLC, who would it be and why?
Jack Welch. He is straight-forward, honest and persuasive.
The success of technology relies on effective communication…
#17 Claimwire: What is your vision for workers’ compensation?
My vision is very broad so I will touch on a small piece of it.
For years, I have been advocating that we change how we talk about workers’ compensation. I am tired of public policy discussions that sound like union-management contract negotiations!
That is so last century!
For example, we need to show employees that getting the best medical care and return to work at medical feasibility are far better in the long run than higher maximum weekly benefits and choice of physician. Since recovery can be greatly affected by mental health, injured workers should receive counseling as well.
Once the workers’ compensation system is dominated by a return-to-work culture, compensating employees at the same salary level would be more possible. We have examples of employers who do this. We’ve done the studies. Let’s get to work!
#18 Claimwire: If you could write a biography about anyone, who would it be?
#19 Claimwire: If you could spend a month with your family anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
England because of its history and my family roots are based there.
#20 Claimwire: If you could recommend just one book for high school students to read, what would it be and why?
“Guerrilla Marketing” by Jay Conrad Levinson. We need to train our youth to be entrepreneurs who can find and create opportunities.