Pet Peeves, Constructive Criticism: Insights About the Insurance Trade Media (Part 3)

August 14, 2012 Insurance Topics 0


Aartrijk insurance trade media survey

(Note: This is today’s post from Aartrijk, where I serve as a senior consultant. It was written by Charles Wasilewski, Aartrijk’s vice president of marketing communications. Enjoy!)

Working with insurance trade media editors and reporters is a win-win-win. The media plays a valuable role in the insurance industry’s business-to-business networking by feeding information and insights to and from insurance professionals. Aartrijk’s insurance trade media survey sought ideas and concerns from trade media. Here is the last of three blog posts with the media’s insights.

The insurance trade reporters and editors who responded to the survey provided many comments in addition to responding to the survey’s eight questions. Guess what? They have pet peeves about how PR people work well (or don’t work well) with the insurance trade media. They also offered plenty in the way of constructive criticism.

It’s instructive to hear what they say about what gets in the way of good publicity efforts. Here are 3 more takeaways I see in the responses (see prior items here):

4. Try to think like the editor. The editor’s job is to gain and keep readership with editorial content. One editorial leader stated: “Focus on what’s new and different. Why is this article unlike the 500 other people or companies that sound like them?”

That was a common theme among comments: Publicity materials seem to emphasize the company, not the publication’s readers. Editors, in essence, are asking PR people:What’s in your pitch or client or product or service for my audience?! Implored one editor: “Give me the particulars of the story and why this story would be a good fit for my publication.”

5. Check the basics. Trade press editors occasionally find fundamental items missing when they are approached by insurance public relations professionals or their PR firms. Complaints about what PR people do wrong included:

  • “Making it hard to find them on websites with hidden press room links and no name or phone number on press releases or site.”
  • “They want their client to be included in an article referenced in our media kit but don’t allow sufficient time for interviews.”
  • “… if a story is pitched, make sure the sources will be available.”
  • “Not knowing their market or repeatedly pitching ideas that don’t fit into my coverage areas.”
  • “Not getting back quick enough, being too pushy, wanting too much editorial control.”
  • “Calling/e-mailing to pitch a story you’re offering to everyone else and/or that isn’t suitable for our audience. E-mailing a news release about something we don’t publish, like personnel changes, new policies, and mergers/acquisitions, and then calling to see if we’re going to use it. Look at our magazine before e-mailing/calling!”
  • “Be sure to always send full name as it is to appear, title, location, full company name and photo of the person being interviewed so that I don’t have to request it.”
  • “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.”
  • ” … 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.”

6. Reporters want to work with insurance PR pros. The fact is, despite complaints about PR practices, insurance PR people are vital to the work of the insurance trade media. The media need and want good interaction and solid information and perspective.

The survey asked the question: “What is one thing that companies, sources, and PR people don’t understand about your job?” Here are several comments in response that show the media’s needs from PR people:

  • “Well-written press releases with substantive information.”
  • “A better understanding of their subject’s role in the insurance environment.”
  • “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!”
  • “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.”

In closing, I offer a big “thank you” to the editors and reporters that took the time to answer the survey. We at Aartrijk appreciate that so many who work in the insurance trade media took the time to give insights in a constructive manner.