The coronavirus has shaken up the tried and tested PR channels and strategies used in the global insurance and reinsurance markets. Here are five new PR trends to look out for in 2021, according to Rein4ce Managing Director Stephen Breen.
Face-to-face meetings have always been a part of the insurance and reinsurance market. Whether you are in Bermuda, New York, London, Singapore or Zurich, we are used to meeting up at different points during the year to exchange ideas and seal deals.
As lockdown restrictions continue around the world, with conferences cancelled, in-person meetings something of a rarity, and fear of travel likely to remain, companies will have to be even more creative in communicating their messages to the market this year.
These are my predictions about some of the communications and public relations trends the industry will see in 2021.
Conferences will be a hybrid mix of in-person and virtual
Even if the global vaccination programme is successful and the world opens up again for travel, conferences this year are likely to have a significant virtual element. My sense is that many executives will be reluctant to travel widely and that there will be a lingering nervousness among many people about large-scale gatherings. Events are a major revenue stream for trade magazines, and the publications have been forced to re-examine their business model, and if future events are to be viable, they will need to have a significant virtual element.
So, what does this mean in terms of communication? Executives will need to brush up on their video presentation skills and those not attending events will have to get their virtual presence, such as LinkedIn, up-to-scratch and fully embrace the digital formats for conferences. Executives and communications professionals will also have to be highly aware of the lens through which the world looks at them. Hosting a million-euro cocktail party in Monte Carlo this year may not go down well with those outside the industry, who may have lost loved ones and livelihoods due to COVID-19.
The re/insurance industry will need to increase commercial support for trade media
The cancellation of events has dealt a body blow to the revenues of many magazines. Last September, Euromoney disclosed it was cutting 240 jobs as it had to “respond to the world as it is now, particularly in events, but in other areas as well”. Re/insurance businesses have had to rebalance their marketing and communications budgets and find more creative ways to reach their target audiences. One obvious way they could do this is to spend more money on the trade magazines through sponsorships and other campaigns. The high-quality journalism provided by trade magazines is an important part of the industry’s ecosystem, and if carriers want their favourite media to survive and flourish, now is the time to give them some much-needed commercial support.
Social media will continue to grow in importance
The reinsurance and insurance markets have been slower than most to enthusiastically embrace social media. However, as the market evolves and changes and with continued pressures on the traditional media sector, social channels will become a more important part of the communications landscape. Senior executives in particular will need to raise their social media profiles to communicate with staff and the markets, so there will be pressure on them and their comms teams to produce regular and interesting content for social platforms.
Executives will need to be more selective to avoid webinar fatigue
Video platforms such as Zoom, Teams and Skype have been a lifeline for millions, but most of us are getting really tired of video calls. Naturally, trade media are using webinars as an alternative to face-to-face meetings. PR teams need to be aware that their senior executives could be suffering from video fatigue and should, therefore, be quite selective about how many of these they suggest their key staff agree to join.
Growing importance of public relations and messaging
I would say this, of course, but public relations will be more important than ever this year. If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that clear communication is absolutely essential during a crisis. Here in the UK, the Westminster government’s communications during the pandemic have been – to put it very mildly – not good. The messaging has been mixed and confusing, and it seems to change from day to day – leaving the public bewildered about what they can and cannot do during lockdown. Amid the widespread uncertainty, there will be clear business opportunities for smart companies. As carriers try to plot their way through another year which will be hard to predict, those companies that craft clear and consistent messages for staff, partners, the market and the media will emerge from the crisis in the strongest position.