Claire struck a great balance between driving the business forward, but also being the conscience of the organisation. She proved herself to be more than her weight in gold for her employer; investing in the future of the industry by working with interns and developing them; and has a hugely promising future.

Mark of Excellence:

  • Fiona Yeadon MCIPR
    First Bus

Fiona talked confidently about changing the perception of PR in the business and has had a positive environmental impact around her work for clean air day. She has seen a highly impressive career trajectory, to become the most senior communications leader in her business in a short space of time. She has been able to see potential and then develop other colleagues, seek new talent, and has shown impressive commitment to continued personal development for herself and for her team.


  • Alex Saker
    Mischief PR
  • Jenni Lai
  • Rachel Proctor
    Milk & Honey PR
  • Sarah Lawless
    BIG Partnership
  • Sharon Dunbar
    Moray Council
  • Simone Corgan
    Network Rail

Winner entry:

Demonstrate your commitment to professional development and your career growth:

Claire is an admirable PR Professional, not only because she works in one of the busiest FS Press Offices, but also because of her route into PR.

Three years ago, she was working in Investor Relations, but wanted to specialise in brand communications. Despite her lack of experience, she secured a role in the Brand Media team beating competition from external candidates, some of whom had several years of PR experience.

In her role as media relations executive, she completed training with the PRCA and CIPR, and it wasn’t long before she was given sole responsibility for managing travel insurance PR.

As the third largest travel insurance provider in the UK, she has responded to countless travel crises, building Direct Line’s reputation and authority within the sector. Further growing the role, Claire pushed herself to become a pivotal lead on integrated campaigns and delivered consistently outstanding results. Claire has been instrumental in accurate budget management, measurement and analysis, creating meaningful insight and securing additional funding.

Having proved herself, Claire was given responsibility for a three month trial to relaunch Life insurance PR. She was instrumental in building the relationship with our partners Legal & General (L&G), managing the brief, crafting/shaping ideas and owning campaigns. After eight weeks, she took the results to L&G and secured additional funding, increasing the budget by 30%.

After two years in the team, a secondment opportunity arose to manage the Home portfolio and Claire secured the role, despite competition from experienced PR professionals.

Claire is dedicated and passionate about PR, and relentlessly pushes herself to develop. Her ambition, skill and commitment to professional development means Claire constantly pushes herself to learn and adapt.

In 2018, three new members joined the team and Claire has been a role model, providing guidance and support.

Outline your work-related achievements over the last two years and how they contribute to the wider industry:

In 2017, Claire was given sole responsibility for promoting the two largest proposition launches for Direct Line: Onward travel (Motor) & alternative accommodation (Home) – working alongside multiple business stakeholders and external agencies, Claire used an integrated approach. Claire used PR research across our channels to make the most of a limited budget.

The Onward Travel campaign launched in September and was the most successful content for Motor in 2017. Alternative Accommodation (a fire-related proposition) launched the week of the Grenfell Tower fire (more info below). Since taking responsibility for the Home strategy, Claire has increased coverage across Direct Line, Select, Churchill and Privilege, growing share of voice (positive/neutral) from 41.7%-56.3% against an incredibly tough media landscape.

Completely overhauling PR’s approach to each of our home brands, Claire ensured our content is aligned to our brand values, whilst securing buy-in from business stakeholders and gaining traction with key media contacts. This has resulted in significant coverage growth in publications specifically relevant to our target audiences.


  • Maintain number one SOV on home – achieved – grown from 41.7% – 56.3%
  • Position us as an authority on responsible homeownership, maintenance and preventative measures – achieved (Direct Line – theft 71 pieces of coverage, flood 24, freeze 8, Churchill – Burglary 132, Privilege -garden cover 32)
  • Position Direct Line as the ultimate fixer, whilst promoting key customer propositions and raising awareness of issues householders face and emerging technology, including; connected home technology – achieved through message penetration
  • Position Churchill as a brand you can trust – achieved through an ongoing campaign on burglary.

Outline the biggest work-related challenge you’ve faced in the past two years, including details of what happened, how you overcame it and what you learnt from it:

In 2017 we launched our alternative accommodation home proposition, which provides emergency accommodation within an hour following a fire. Having worked hard to develop an integrated campaign including placing exclusive content with several National publications, we launched our TV adverts on 10/06/17. T

he day before our PR content went live; catastrophe struck the residents of Grenfell Tower. As our content focused on the emotive effects of a fire, we needed to move quickly to pull our adverts from TV, radio, social media and ensure our PR content did not go ahead as planned, as this would have been incredibly insensitive to everyone affected by the tragedy. Our ability to move fast meant we were able to save any additional distress to those affected by the fire, whilst also protecting our reputation.

A summary of a campaign you are particularly proud of, including details of the brief, objectives, strategy, tactics, outputs, outcomes and budget:

Claire launched a three month test-and-learn project to see how the media would react to proactive PR content after an eight year hiatus from the media for Direct Line Life Insurance.


  • Build SOV within the Life Insurance market– achieved 0%-37.4% (Jan-Nov)
  • Raise Jane Morgan’s profile – achieved – quoted 239 times and second most quoted spokesperson in Direct Line Group in 2018
  • Raise awareness of the product – achieved – in Q1 we saw a 24% increase in sales and 14% increase in premium
  • Achieve 300m OTS in the trial and 1.2bn Jan-Dec – achieved OTS of 275m in the trial and 2.4bn YTD
  • Build Direct Line as a thought leader on modern family relationships, financial planning and inheritance – achieved.

Budget: Q1 trial: £30,000 Q2-Q4 activity: £121,500.

We built a strategy based on:

  • A review of the industry, which allowed us to identify a gap in the market and differentiate our content
  • Key audiences – the life stages when people are most likely to buy life insurance.

Focusing on these audiences, we took a fresh approach and instead of talking about death (the obvious choice for a life insurer) which we’re unable to fix, we related the content to what matters to modern families, whilst aligning our messaging to the brand identity as ‘the ultimate fixer’. Our focus for the test-and-learn phase was to build our SOV, with content that had longevity, so that we would be able to roll out our strategy for the remainder of the year.

Throughout this process, we worked alongside external agencies, partners and spokespeople to give our campaign more authority. After eight weeks, Claire took the initial results back to L&G (our partner) to gauge their appetite to extend the budget. Claire secured funding for ongoing PR activity, increasing the budget by over 30%.

Additional results:

  • 99.8% of all coverage was generated directly from PR
  • Coverage: 84%-favourable, 15.8%-neutral
  • Coverage: headline 1.6%, first paragraph 20.3%, paragraph or more 54.6%
  • 321 pieces of coverage relating to finances, 310 on families, 244 on couples/relationships.