How do we get our positive messages through to the public? Financial newspapers aim to educate their readers and protection companies should see this as an opportunity.
On balance, there are more positive protection stories in the consumer press than negative stories. Of the negative stories, it seems fair to assume that at least some are accurate. We work hard to do the right thing but mistakes get made, albeit nowhere near as often as consumers imagine they do. Why raise this now? Because the Government spending review makes it more important than ever to send the message that a personal protection policy is important.
The welfare state cannot be relied on to deliver anything other than the most minimum of safety nets, yet people still do not appear to have realised the magnitude of changes. They fail to realise their standard of living and debt repayments, like a mortgage, would be nigh on impossible to maintain if welfare payments were needed and solely relied upon.
A journalist who uses the social media regularly said in jest: “Twitter is for egomaniacs whereas Facebook is for voyeurs.” While the social media is approached by many with scepticism, even some of the most dubious accept the importance of these new mediums of communication in PR and journalism. The concern is if many people in protection are struggling to deal with traditional media, how will we as an industry cope with social media, which can baffle even the savviest of PRs and marketers?
There is a specialist protection adviser group on LinkedIn that debates issues within the insurance world. If we want to get the important messages out there and engage with consumers more fully, these forms of media are a help, not a hindrance. They are not that hard to master and the common-sense rules that apply to traditional communications initiatives apply here too.
The consumer protection insurance engagement campaign was halted last year partly because the industry could not agree funding. We have a new opportunity, caused by the cuts in state provision, to raise the profile of protection. It is an opportunity we should pursue via all avenues and something that everyone can play a part in. We must try to grow the market and we have simple and easy-to-access communication tools to help us. The ball is in our court.
Matt Morris is senior policy adviser at Lifesearch