A key value proposition independent agents hold over their direct writer counterparts is the ability to act as client advisor and advocate. Providing guidance around coverages, risks and claims remains an element of the total insurance decisioning and purchase journey that many consumers and businesses consider beneficial and worthwhile. How independent agencies continue to message this service can have a direct impact on their growth and success.
Like most disciplines, public relations (PR) has evolved significantly with technology and time. Early days included traditional press releases, articles, publicity and reputation management, but modern view of PR functions encompasses a much broader swath of content and communications strategies intended to frame public perception of a business or brand.
In short, if your agency engages on social media or takes part in community events, you are already incorporating public relations into your marketing strategy. If your budget does not support hiring an external PR agency, here are 3 Do-It-Yourself PR ideas to help increase awareness of your insurance agency.
Local publications. Be where your client base is.
Most insurance agencies are targeting their local or regional consumer or business, so shooting for Forbes or People Magazine is impractical and off-target. One bright spot is local and regional publications are hungrier than ever for content. Thinly staffed, and with the rise in online consumption, news cycles are 24/7.
Consider offering a regular feature where you submit an “Is it Covered?” article (or similar) each month, outlining a scenario (either real or imagined) that demonstrates your knowledge of coverages and claims. Editors are busy, so be prepared to submit a well-polished, error-free example or two of your articles. Be sensitive to guidelines on length and style, and close with a short bio about yourself and your agency.
Podcasting, the new talk radio.
Despite the explosion of podcasts, there is still ample opportunity to utilize this medium to position your agency as an expert in insurance, and a leader in your business community. Starting your own podcast is a commitment, but it is neither expensive – requires a modest investment in equipment and hosting service – nor does it require a lot of technical know-how if you do your research.
Hosting and interviewing guests has an added benefit of providing information and perspective you otherwise may not have had and can go a long way to establish solid professional relationships and expand your podcast audience.
Podcasting does require a time commitment well beyond the recording itself. You’ll likely need to do some planning and research ahead, followed by editing, uploading and promoting. If you are already time-starved, this may be too big of an undertaking to go alone. Doing some goal setting (listens per episode) against investment will help you decide if podcasting is right for you. If it isn’t, exploring opportunities to appear as a guest on someone else’s podcast is still a good strategy.
Events. Community. Causes.
Sponsoring events such as a local fair, festival or sports team has a rich history in the PR toolbox, and still holds value in that it adds to brand awareness and can generate good will. Building on this tradition, consider taking a more active role in organizing and participating in events that draw people together.
Whether you are a member of the Rotary, chamber of commerce or business association, local insurance agencies have many opportunities to be engaged and positively impact their communities. Taking up causes, fundraising, volunteering, and organizing events are a win-win for your business, your staff and those who benefit from your activities. Don’t be afraid to make this philanthropic side of your culture a key part of your messaging and brand.
Consistency is key.
Whatever public relations approach your agency decides to pursue, to achieve success requires planning and persistence. It takes time to make the right connections and hit a productive rhythm. For independent agency owners who invest in a strong PR program – the strategies may differ, but the opportunities to gain the trust and support of their communities is the ultimate outcome.