There is no doubt that Direct Line Group has a very strong brand presence in the insurance industry. The strength within their in-house communications team lies in the fact they’re split across categories. This allows them to develop a deeper understanding of those individual sectors and devise strong PR strategies to support the different categories. They adopt a research-based approach to ensure there is strong data to support PR efforts and storytelling. This has driven strong results, including engaging and having influence at a Government level. A worthy winner!

Mark of Excellence:

  • North West Ambulance Service

The North West Ambulance Service communications team is a beacon of good practice for in-house teams across the country, whether they are public, private or third sector. Not only do they provide an invaluable public service, with frontline staff dealing with the most difficult of circumstances, they are supporting the delivery of 999, patient transport, and NHS 111 services to 7m+ people across five counties. The team clearly have a strong ethos of striving to be the best, a solid commitment to continuing professional development, and a clear sense of measuring value. They are a credit to their service, their communities and the profession.

Finalists:

  • Financial Times
  • General Medical Council
  • Newcastle University
  • Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry
  • Novo Nordisk UK
  • Skipton Building Society

Winner entry:

Number of employees within the PR team:

  • Seven.

Business objectives and analysis of team performance against budget over the last two years:

  • Positioning Direct Line as fixers and protecting our customers
  • Compete for number one share of voice on: car, home, travel and pet insurance
  • Increase brand awareness, consideration, connection and preference
  • Encourage behavioural change, such as safer driving and responsible pet ownership, resulting in positive outcomes for customers, as well as commercial benefit
    • Achieved through message penetration, seeking to change legislation for a safer and fairer society.

In 2018 we achieved:

  • 3098 items of coverage
  • 2 billion OTS
  • Potential cost per view of 0.000028p.

In 2019 we achieved:

  • 2988 items of coverage
  • 7 billion OTS
  • Potential cost per view of 0.000002p.

A brief overview of business / team strategy:

The team is split by ‘category’ e.g. motor, home, etc, enabling the PR managers to become experts in their fields. Direct Line is one of the most recognisable brands within the insurance sector. As a direct insurer with no presence on Price Comparison Websites it’s essential that the brand stands out from the crowd, and through PR we are able to engage with our audience on an emotional level.

Our strategy is based upon increasing brand consideration, educating the media and consumers by creating impactful campaigns that resonate with our customers. Through these campaigns we assist top line growth and bring commercial benefit, by working with the business to mitigate claims costs through changing consumer behaviour.

A summary of commitment to CPD and professionalism:

The Direct Line in-house team, is committed to development and professionalism and we demonstrate this through:

  • Ten CIPR members
  • One Accredited PR Practitioner
  • Each team member has £500 investment each year for development
  • The Marketing secretary for the PRCA’s ‘Women in PR’ committee and PRWeek mentor scheme is also in the team
  • Direct Line is the only in-house team in the private sector to receive accreditation from the PRCA’s apprenticeships for all scheme
  • The team judged the CMA, and PRWeek Awards.

A summary of recent outstanding achievements:

  • One member won the CIPR Outstanding Young Communicator Award
  • Our intern won the PRCA Intern of the year award
  • Three of our last four interns have all been shortlisted in the PRCA/PR Week PR Intern of the year award
  • One member sat as an expert panellist at the PRCA Media Measurement Conference
  • One member spoke at the PR Week Measurement Conference
  • One member was voted ‘unprompted’ top ten for most impressive PR’s in Ipsos Mori Personal Finance Journalist survey
  • The seatbelts campaign was shortlisted for PR Moments award and the Headline Money Thought Leadership Award.

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

Seatbelts:

One in four people killed on the roads are not wearing a seat belt. Penalty points have increased wearing rates in other countries, yet only fines are issued to non-wearers in Britain.

Campaign objectives were:

  • Raise awareness of the issue and change behaviour
  • Save lives
  • Produce an evidence-based research report with recommendations for change
  • Engage Government on a serious policy consideration
  • Manage an effective Public Affairs/PR campaign.

How we achieved this:

  • Representation at seat belt advisory panel meetings at The Department for Transport
  • Produced an evidence-based report and policy recommendations for Government/media
  • Conducted consumer research to highlight public backing of harsher penalties
  • Raised awareness via media
  • Utilised social media and influencers to target specific audiences.

To cut through the technology dominated news agenda, we gauged public opinion via consumer research, resulting in the headline, “72% of British public back a change in the law.” This cemented coverage and consumer research was presented to DfT.

Results:

  • Harsher penalties being considered by Government (Road Safety Action Plan)
  • 250 pieces of coverage across media (8 national, 26 radio)
  • Reach/OTS of 544 million (all earned media) at a cost of 0,00005 per potential view
  • Business spokesperson quoted 196 times
  • Uber updated its driver App, with seat belt safety advice for drivers/passengers
  • Social content: Video viewed over 115,000 times on influencer’s platforms
  • Over 5.3% engagement (6,097) on DL channels high level of organic engagement (4,000 views).

This campaign reinvigorated a low-tech solution in a high-tech world, that has already saved countless lives. We have placed seat belts firmly on the Government’s agenda which could see a change in law to mitigate the emotional and financial cost, serious injuries and deaths.

Dog Theft:

Five dogs across Britain are stolen every day. Dogs and the theft of a dog is currently viewed no different to the theft of an inanimate object.

Our campaign objectives were:

  • Raise awareness (and prevention) of dog theft
  • Drive change for animal rights
  • Promote our identity as caring brand
  • Ensure that Dr Daniel’s parliamentary petition reached its target of 100k signatures.

Strategy:

  • Requested a Freedom of Information Act from UK police to identify the amount of dogs stolen, returned and what breeds are targeted
  • Used research to form release
  • Working alongside our in-house social media, digital, and design teams we created integrated content for multi-channel use.
  • Ran a Twitter poll to encourage online engagement
  • Worked with Shout! Communications and external spokespeople (Beverly Cuddey and Debbie Matthews) to optimise broadcast, bring the issue to life, and add gravitas.

Results:

  • Since May 2018, our research has been covered in 419 national, trade, regional and online titles
  • Drove change for animal rights in the UK, linked the research to Dr Daniel Allen’s petition demanding harsher penalties to those prosecuted for pet theft
  • Noted an increase of almost 6,000 signatures on launch day
  • Assisted Dr Daniel’s petition to reaching 100k signatures
  • Raised awareness of dog theft in the UK, research had 660 million OTS at a cost of 0.00015p per potential view
  • Through integration of our teams, we secured entirely positive results across all channels
  • Not only did we gain coverage, but our research reunited an owner with their stolen dog.

Outcomes:

Our research formed a fundamental part of a debate in parliament, driving change for animal rights and demanding harsher penalties for pet theft prosecution. MP’s referenced the research in their arguments and it featured in the guide for those attending the debate, as well as Ross Thompson’s 10 Minute Rule Bill. The bill raised awareness for an important cause and our research played was integral.