Insurance, insights, and acrobats: RIMS 2017

The annual RIMS conference is always a worthwhile annual reunion for the insurance industry. It’s an enormous event that gathers carriers, brokers, and tech companies to network and (dare I say) have a good bit of fun! For those who’ve been, they know: the RIMS parties are something else. This year’s event at the Pennsylvania Convention Center here in Philadelphia treated attendees to acrobats in the main atrium, a champagne fairy, a Billy Idol concert and remarks from Michael J. Fox.

But the conference isn’t short on substance, either. There were valuable educational sessions, tasty meals and inspiring speakers. It also gathers the insurance and business media to meet in one place. From a public relations perspective, that is an incredible opportunity. It is the time to connect key reporters and industry thought leaders to engage in constructive conversations about risk and insurance.

We used the opportunity to say “hi” to old friends on the media side and introduce them to clients as future resources. We also facilitated some on-site interviews to make sure our clients got in front of the RIMS audience – a key group for anyone looking to get their message across to broker, carriers, and more.

In the case of one of our attending clients Pennsylvania Lumbermens Mutual Insurance, we also got the opportunity to see things from the exhibitor perspective as we captured social media content for them. Check out this video of a critical loss control tool they are using with their customers demonstrated at their exhibit booth.

Social media was a key component of the conference, down to the #RIMS2017 hashtag displayed boldly in giant letters in the entrance to the convention center. Screens throughout the convention center compiled tweets with the hashtag, and people were quick to pose for photos as the “I” in RIMS (like we did).

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The RIMS conference may be primarily an education and networking opportunity for the insurance pros involved, but for us insurance PR pros, these opportunities to connect with reporters and create social media content were just as important. Thanks to the RIMS organization for a valuable conference. See you in San Antonio!

Please United, get help

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Twitter users react to the incident with the hashtag #NewUnitedAirlinesMottos

There is so much wrong with United having a passenger dragged from an overbooked plane that it’s difficult to know where to start. But when looking at how to handle communications in a crisis, there are several issues that are immediately apparent:

  1. United has problems. A crisis often reveals underlying problems and as a frequent flyer of United (my home airport is Newark, so I have no choice), I am painfully aware of them. There are systemic issues with the airlines, from the age of planes to dated, inconsistent and often horrific customer service. These things reveal themselves in crises and it’s tough to hide.
  2. They did not evaluate this situation very well. That may be the understatement of the century. Before you respond to a crisis, you need to understand what you’re responding to, and United’s weak first statement showed they clearly did not understand two things. One, that an airline brand is about customer service and this was as bad as it gets, and, two, what public opinion, especially on social media, was saying about them. This brings me to the third issue.
  3. Social media has changed the speed and dynamics of crisis response. You may feel like you’re in a different generation when you fly United, but they have the resources to employ competent public relations people who should be able to evaluate public opinion on social media and respond appropriately and in a timely fashion.
  4. Finally, you have to choose the right words. I was shocked (not upset, not saddened) to see their initial statement. “They” are upset? What about the passengers? And they “re-accommodated” passengers? Inventing nonsensical words is only the tip of the iceberg, and that goes back to problems one through three – United has problems and is out of touch.

Before I hang up my Mileage Plus account and begin a monogamous relationship with Delta for domestic flights (and maybe even try American), I am hoping this is the wake-up call United needs.

And hey Oscar Munoz, my PR firm and thousands of others are competent, available and would never put you in this situation.

5 crisis tips for organizations serving children and youth

A crisis can take many forms and represent significant risk for an organization’s ability to continue ordinary operations, as well as for its image, its client base and its short- and long-term financial performance. Effective planning and response will help you navigate a crisis successfully. Here five tips to get started:

  1. Have a plan. Once a crisis occurs it’s too late to begin planning. Create an emergency response plan that takes into account all possible risks, from accidents and abuse to newer risks like active shooters and emerging health issues. Make sure you utilizes all necessary resources when creating your plan.
  2. Widen your expertise. It’s impossible to handle a crisis alone. You need a wide range of resources both inside and outside your organization, ranging from medical professionals and grief counselors to public relations professionals and attorneys.
  3. Create a crisis communications component to your plan. This includes establishing one spokesperson and defining his/her specific responsibilities, and establishing protocols for handling the media and for managing and monitoring social media.
  4. Communicate open and honestly. Take control of your situation and be first in communicating with the families of the children you serve. Open, accurate and rapid communications goes a long way in building and maintaining the trust and respect of your community and clients.
  5. Distribute, practice and update the plan. Your plan does not do any good sitting on a shelf. It should be widely circulated, understood by everyone involved and practiced. The plan should also be reviewed and updated on a regular basis.

 

Kimball Communications expands client roster

Kimball Communications recently announced the signing of four new clients in the insurance, non-profit and tourism industries.

The clients include:

  • The Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation: IICF is an international nonprofit that unites the collective strengths of insurance industry professionals to give back to their communities through grants, volunteer service and leadership. IICF also hosts the largest diversity-agenda conference within the insurance industry, the Women in Insurance Global Conference. Kimball Communications has been hired to promote the 2017 conference, its speakers and related thought leadership to global business media as well as insurance and philanthropic trade press.
  • Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia: Philadelphia’s Mütter Museum has hired Kimball Communications to craft a multi-channel story offering a behind-the-scenes perspective on the innovative creation of a new exhibit. This upcoming exhibit will explore the influenza pandemic that gripped the city (and the world) from 1918-1919.
  • Pennsylvania & Indiana Lumbermens Mutual Insurance Companies (PLM): One of the country’s largest insurers specializing in lumber and wood-related businesses, this Philadelphia-based company has asked Kimball Communications to develop a comprehensive public relations campaign. This integrated campaign will promote PLM’s expertise among its target audiences with regular media coverage, as well as engage those audiences on social media to generate, grow and maintain awareness.
  • Angel Flight East: A non-profit providing compassion flight services for those in need in the Mid-Atlantic and northeastern U.S., Angel Flight East partnered with Kimball Communications to enhance awareness of its mission among pilots, business leaders, healthcare providers, patient communities and social workers using media relations, event promotion and thought leadership strategies.

“Our expertise and track record of success within the insurance, non-profit, arts and tourism spaces will serve each of these clients well, and we’re happy to support the important work they do,” noted agency President Gary Kimball.

 

IICF’s new Philadelphia chapter announces 1st fundraiser

According to PropertyCasualty360, the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation‘s new Philadelphia Chapter will hold its inaugural fundraiser event on March 30 at Fado Irish Pub on Locust Street in the City of Brotherly Love. Proceeds will benefit Cradles to Crayons. Details, as well as how to obtain tickets to the event, can be found in the PropertyCasualty360 article from Feb. 28, 2017.

Top international minds to address the power of diverse thought, innovation at Women in Insurance Global Conference

The Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation (IICF) will host an international audience of 650 attendees in New York for its third Women in Insurance Global Conference, June 7-9, at the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel. Discussing meaningful topics of diversity and inclusion, the Women in Insurance Global Conference will explore the global impact of innovation, specifically the advantages and power of diverse thought on issues of innovation, and the importance of a fully inclusive work environment.

wigc-header_pngToday’s industry leaders are confronting issues related to gender, generation and a more globally dispersed and culturally unique workforce. They are also transforming challenges into opportunities for an ever more inclusive workplace. The Women in Insurance Global Conference will host acclaimed keynote speakers, dynamic panel discussions and interactive breakout sessions that address a range of today’s most relevant diversity and inclusion topics.

Notable speakers will discuss global industry innovation and the business case for diversity, including keynote speakers:

  • Victoria Budson, Founder and Executive Director of the Women and Public Policy Program – Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government
  • Dawn Frasier-Bohnert, Senior Vice President, Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer – Liberty Mutual Insurance
  • Ivy Kusinga, SVP, Chief Culture Officer – Chubb
  • Morris Tooker, Chief Underwriting Officer – The Hartford
  • Bo Young Lee, Global Diversity & Inclusion Leader – Marsh
  • Yuhan Li, Founder – Yidu Cloud
  • Jennifer Brown, Founder, President & CEO – Jennifer Brown Consulting

During the three-day event, IICF will announce the winners of its Inclusion Champion Award, bestowed at each Women in Insurance Global Conference. The award recognizes those within the insurance industry who have championed the cause of diversity and inclusion in the workplace, and who are personally committed to community service. This year, both a woman and a man will be honored as Inclusion Champions. Nominations are being accepted via IICF’s website.

“From the start, the Women in Insurance Global Conference has exceeded our expectations in terms of attendance and the commitment and passion of those individuals who contribute to it,” explained William E. Ross, CEO of IICF. “Each year we have an eager gathering of attendees – men and women – committed to making our industry stronger through greater inclusiveness and diversity of thought.”

Early registration for the conference runs until April 12, and interested attendees can register up to and including the start of the conference.

For additional information, please contact Betsy Myatt at emyatt@iicf.com.

About the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation

The Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation (IICF) is a unique nonprofit that unites the collective strengths of the insurance industry to help communities and enrich lives through grants, volunteer service and leadership. Established in 1994, IICF has contributed $25.3 million in community grants, along with more than 240,500 volunteer hours, to hundreds of charities and nonprofit organizations, reinvesting in local communities where funds are raised. IICF is a registered nonprofit organization under section 501(c)(3) of the IRS code. Learn more at www.iicf.org.

Twitter danger for realtors: provocation, provocation, provocation

Twitter is not a toy, and certainly not something to be used in haste. Just ask Tony Brust, who until last Monday was a real estate agent in Illinois.

On Jan. 31, Brust took to social media to criticize recent political commentary from well-known comedian Patton Oswald. The war of tweets became heated, and in what can only be called a complete lapse of judgement, Brust tweeted a reference to Oswald’s wife, Michelle McNamara, who died unexpectedly in April 2016, saying “I’m a psychic and I am channeling his wife’s opinions.” Oswald and many of his followers took offense, and the debate went – as they say – viral. Inundated, Brust deleted his Twitter account.

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An image of Tony Brust’s tweet about Patton Oswald’s wife was shared and reshared despite Brust deleting his account.

Brust was fired that day. His employer, Michael Maloof, told the Chicago Tribune, “We were made aware that this had gone on and we parted company.” As of Feb. 6, all of Brust’s social media accounts and his personal website were unpublished. Even his Zillow profile was removed.

The social media lesson here is simple: Don’t be a jerk. Name calling and offensive comments negate the merits of any argument you might be making. And, most importantly, Twitter is not a conversation. It is a permanent digital record subject to review and interpretation by anyone with an Internet connection.

If your livelihood depends on the public choosing you as a professional product or service provider, Twitter debates on any topic – including politics – should be avoided. For real estate professionals specifically, these online spats serve only to expose your reputation to unnecessary risk and can significantly damage your business. What you might think of as a witty comeback can take on a life of its own in ways you cannot imagine – and there are real-life consequences.

If you doubt this, Google “Tony Brust AND real estate.” You won’t find anything about Brust’s advocacy for clients, big sales or his real estate career highlights. What you will find on that first page of your Google search – the holy grail of search and a key to online reputation management – are references to Brust, his infamous tweet and dozens of news articles about the whole affair. And this new reputation – one wholly indifferent to his past real estate career – will follow Brust for a long time.

But it isn’t just heated political commentary that can cause real estate professionals harm. Far too many Realtors post their listings on personal Twitter or Facebook pages – separate from their “business” social media accounts. And under Article 12, Standard of Practice 12-5 of the National Association of Realtors’ Code of Ethics, this is advertising. And if the agent in question hasn’t clearly included information identifying him or herself as a real estate professional and the company for which he or she works, that is a violation of said Code of Ethics.

Social media is a powerful tool for Realtors. It can also be a damaging weapon if not handled with care. Brokerages’ must have clear social media policies and include social media in their crisis communications plans.  Agents would do well to learn a lot more about the platforms they use as well as various social media communications’ best practices to avoid unintended problems.

You wouldn’t try to sell a house without studying real estate and being trained. The same commitment and effort is needed when using social media to promote your business.