CMO Q&A: Barbara Goodstein, AXA Equitable Life Insurance

AXA Equitable Life Insurance CMO Barbara Goodstein talks to Aarti Shah about communicating in a tough financial environment.

AXA Equitable Life Insurance CMO Barbara Goodstein talks to Aarti Shah about communicating in a tough financial environment.

PRWeek: The insurance industry has faced much media scrutiny over the last year. How has this been handled from a communications and marketing standpoint?

Goodstein: We've tried to be incredibly visible and vocal around all of the volatility in the market. We've reached out to our customers in multiple ways and also had a really robust dynamic up front on our Web site. We've continued to change the messaging on the site, according to what's currently happening in the market.

We've also tried to be as specific and relevant as possible. We've had our CEO welcoming users on the homepage with different messages for our customer base. So we have really accelerated all of our communications efforts around the market volatility, and the reaction seems to be very positive.

PRWeek: How are AXA's core messages developed?

Goodstein: Marketing and PR handle message development in complete cooperation. But I defer to the PR people to do a lot of that. Whether it is a strict PR campaign or a marketing program, the PR team is traditionally the authors of the content.

PRWeek: How do the marketing and PR teams work together?

Goodstein: We've all seen the value of leveraging PR and marketing together. For example, we are putting on an event in September targeting women, and we have our PR team helping us define content and generate external press for the event. They're not coming up with the agenda or deciding whom the speakers are, and they are not going to be doing the e-mail campaign to our clients. But they are helping us make this event interesting to the press.

PR is a tool we have at our disposal to build awareness and visibility, and it's been an efficient, cost-effective tool.

PRWeek: What's the process for collaboration when you have different reporting structures?

Goodstein: We have a weekly meeting to discuss communications, the market, what's coming up, what things we have done, and what things we could do going forward. PR is one of many representatives at the table, so they're included in the design of our marketing strategies at every level.

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