Using Public Relations to Drive Vertical Media Success – A Case Study
Agero is leading the digitalization of driver assistance services on a massive scale, safeguarding consumers on the road through a combination of platform intelligence and human-powered solutions. As a white-label roadside assistance provider, the company protects 115 million vehicles on behalf of leading insurers and automakers, and responds to more than 12 million roadside events each year. Agero partnered with Voxus to help establish the company as a trusted partner through vertical media.
However, shifting market trends in the insurance and automotive industries have created significant challenges for Agero’s customers. The auto insurance industry, for example, has become increasingly competitive – there was a record low number of new shoppers in 2018, according to a J.D. Power Insurance Shopping Study. At the same time, automakers face profitability headwinds from strong competition and regulatory costs according to S&P Global Ratings.
What’s more, Agero’s competitive landscape has become more crowded making it more challenging to maintain service provider partnerships. While the company has enjoyed historically strong and consistent market share among insurers and automakers, its brand and product media engagement has historically been purposefully light-handed. Agero had little media exposure in previous years, while competitors were making substantial noise. Even more troubling, the company was not perceived as a leader in digital, while nimble software-oriented companies were grabbing headlines.
To overcome these new challenges – and build media mindshare – Agero looked to Voxus to help capitalize on new market trends and dynamics by demonstrating the company’s value as a trusted and strategic partner in the driver assistance service space. This included differentiating the brand from others in the market. Voxus worked to develop and execute a multi-faceted PR program capable of highlighting brand differentiation, elevating industry thought leadership and product innovation, and strengthening the company’s reputation as the partner of choice for service providers.
By building a media program that focused on Agero’s three key industry audiences – the automotive industry, auto insurers and service providers – Voxus was able to drive strong vertical media coverage that dramatically impacted awareness and helped drive increases in key marketing metrics (such as growing its share of voice in roadside and accident management and expanding its spokesperson bench to drive increasing exposure for Agero and its executive expertise). Here are the three key strategies the campaign employed:
1. Used new company executives to drive corporate momentum and vertical headlines
Agero recently hired several key executives, including a new chief operations officer and chief financial officer. Rather than approaching this news with the tried and true method of drafting a press release and sending it to local business journals, Voxus saw a much larger opportunity to target key vertical media within the industry.
Highlighting the new CFO’s strategic planning and financial oversight skills, for example, Voxus communicated how this would be integral to Agero’s focus on business and industry transformation. With the hiring of a new COO, the team emphasized his experience breaking down operational silos and how that would help the company more effectively deliver a comprehensive, streamlined and differentiated roadside assistance experience for drivers.
The hiring announcement of Agero’s new chief operations officer, who oversees the company’s relationship with tow providers, was featured in Tow Professional, Tow Industry Week and American Towman. In addition, Property Casualty 360, Insurance Innovation Reporter, Autoblog, Automotive Industries, Auto Remarketing and Repairer Driven News all covered the hiring of Agero’s new chief financial officer.
2. Shared a vision of innovation and the future of roadside via thought leadership
It’s no secret that PR pros outnumber journalists. The latest U.S. Census data shows that the “flacks” now outnumber the “hacks” by a six to one ratio, a rate that has doubled over the past decade – and continues to grow. With fewer reporters seeing more and more story pitches, it’s harder than ever to secure recurring coverage in priority publications, which is why engaging in thought-leadership content is more important than ever.
Voxus saw an opportunity to elevate Agero’s executives as experts within the industry. The team developed a list of storylines designed to highlight brand differentiation and the value of Agero’s roadside offering, underscore industry and product innovation, and strengthen its reputation as the partner of choice for service providers. We immediately pursued bylined articles across insurance, automotive and service provider vertical outlets to establish these key executives as thought leaders.
As a result, Voxus wrote and secured placement of nearly a dozen articles based on these campaign themes, including “The New Roadside Imperative for Insurers” in Carrier Management, “Increasing EV Sales May Boost Need for Roadside Service” in WardsAuto, “Effective Accident Management Can Reduce Claims Severity” in Claims Journal and “The Impact on Insurers of Towing-Business Challenges” in Property Casualty 360.
3. Took data-driven stories directly to Agero’s customers
Voxus quickly realized that Agero had a tremendous amount of internal market data that it could share with journalists. Voxus’ third and final strategy relied on evaluating and tailoring proprietary quantitative and qualitative data collected by Agero and using that information to build targeted vertical media outreach campaigns around the insights. These topics ranged from the economic impact that auto breakdowns have on the U.S. economy to the business challenges facing the tow industry.
As a result, Voxus secured coverage for data-driven stories in vertical outlets such as ITA Pro, Autoline TV and AutomotiveMap. Moreover, with insight that 69 million drivers will experience a car breakdown event each year, Voxus helped Agero successfully launch an alternative transportation partnership with ride-hailing company, Lyft. As a result of combining market data and news, Voxus secured feature coverage in verticals such as Autoblog, WardsAuto, Auto Remarketing, Fender Bender, Ratchet + Wrench, and more (in addition to broad national business and consumer coverage, which you can read about more in our case study).
This vertical campaign focus (and three key tactics) resulted in goal-shattering coverage for Agero. Voxus exceeded product mention and overall coverage totals with nearly 200 pieces of unique coverage. In addition, Agero finished the year commanding a 75 percent share of voice across media placements compared to its top competitors in the market.
Vertical media industry coverage can play a key role in ensuring that a company’s messaging reaches customers. While every business aspires to land in the New York Times or Wall Street Journal (which might be a fantastic goal), the importance of speaking directly to your customers – in their niche publications – should not be overlooked. Regardless of the market, there’s usually an opportunity to make vertical media outreach part of a PR program. If you want to learn more about how to target a specific vertical, contact Voxus today.