Diary of an Insurance PR: SEC Newgate's Vanessa Chance

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Vanessa Chance, director of communications at SEC Newgate UK, raises the profile of Insurance United Against Dementia, learns more about using artificial intelligence in communications plus handles a potential reputational risk issue.

Vanessa​   Chance   |   Director, Communications SEC Newgate

Monday

The week starts with an early walk in Epping Forest with my dog, before my first meeting at 9am.

I have a call with the other directors to go over any issues and proposals for the week, then the company-wide news meeting chaired by my ex-journalist colleagues, before our team call to catch up on priorities for the week.

I remind everyone that we are hosting the Insurance United Against Dementia’s Dementia Friends event for the media this week.

I am really excited about this as it’s the first of its kind and I am really keen to raise the profile of the Dementia Friends programme.

Having lost my mother and uncle to dementia, I feel strongly about wanting to help those living with dementia in any way I can.

I catch-up on client emails and actions and then it’s time for my lunchtime dog walk. Having a Labrador keeps me active.

I come back and prepare for a client call in the afternoon. They are one of the largest global loss adjusters and have a rapidly growing insurtech offering.

I am always interested to see what they are doing as a business and how they are innovating in the sector.

We have a good meeting about some thought leadership initiatives with some of their experts in cyber and marine claims, and also discuss the current media meetings programme with their insurtech team.

At the end of the day, I head out with friends to do some training and catch-up.

Tuesday

Five friends cheering on good news.
Instants

I am in the office today, with a few client meetings to run and also preparing for the event tomorrow.

In my 20 years working in PR, I am always amazed at how much journalists can drink, especially in insurance, and make sure the bar is well stocked.

My first meeting is with my life insurance client. They have a great case study of an income protection claim where the insured was out of work for years and the cover was a lifeline.

Often in insurance we only hear about the stories where the claims aren’t paid and so its nice to have a good claims story to shout about.

I make a quick trip to Leather Lane market to get some lunch, then it’s time for a call with my credit insurance client.

Their economists produce high quality research to flag risks to their clients and so we discuss how we can make more of this in the media.

That evening we have drinks and nibbles in the bar at our office to say goodbye and good luck to a colleague who is going on maternity leave. As she isn’t drinking, the rest of us have to make up for it.

Wednesday

lloyds-poland-event

I am in the office again and my colleagues in our policy team have secured the shadow business secretary, Jonathan Reynolds MP, to meet with our clients and discuss what a Labour government would mean for UK business. It will be a hot ticket event and we draw up a list of clients to invite.

In the afternoon, I head to the event area to check everything is in place. The Alzheimer’s Society are first to arrive and over the next hour, more journalists arrive from the specialist insurance media and national personal finance media, as well as representatives from the IUAD board.

The Alzheimer’s Society run the Dementia Friends session, which gives us all a lot to think about and then it is back into the bar to chat over drinks and nibbles.

Thursday

AI Data

It’s a great start to the day, meeting a journalist colleague for breakfast in the City to catch-up on clients and ideas for stories.

I head to the office and over lunch, we have a company-wide training session on using artificial intelligence in communications from our digital team.

We look at how AI is now used, particularly generative AI, the different tools available, as well as the risks to clients from deep fakes. It’s a fast-moving area and we are already advising clients on how to use AI to their advantage.

In the afternoon I have a call with my legal client. They are currently working on a case with several major insurers that will challenge the way credit hire claims are made, which is very topical given what’s happening with fixed recoverable costs for professional indemnity claims.

This client is always a lot of fun and unlike any other legal firm I have ever worked with. They are happy to take a stand on issues and put their head above the parapet in the media, so we agree on some key themes and media targets for these.

Friday

woods

I’m working from home again today and start the day in the forest again. Then I get a call from a client on a potential reputational risk issue that has just come up.

We go through what we know so far: what they are doing to manage the situation and what we need to do in terms of communications.

I speak with my digital colleagues to set up round the clock monitoring in case anything leaks, then start preparing a reactive statement for the media and Q&A document.

I send these over to the client and then head out to meet a friend for a quick lunchtime walk with our dogs.

In the afternoon, I catch up with the client to see if anything has developed and we discuss how we will manage any enquiries over the weekend if the story breaks and put plans in place.

I spend the rest of the day catching up on emails and making sure we have delivered everything we promised, before a final check-in with my client on the risk issue. Then it’s off to the pub in the evening to have dinner and drinks with friends to round off the week.

Vanessa Chance is director of communications at SEC Newgate UK

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