Client: Lloyd's of London
PR Team: In-house; College Hill in UK, Torrenzano in US, Lute in Canada
Campaign: Jaffray court case decision
Timescale: February-November 2000
Between 1988 and 1992 the global insurance market lost pounds 8bn through a series of disasters, creating substantial debts for investors. Almost half this total was due to cases involving asbestos.
In 1997 Lloyd's of London, the UK-based international insurance market, took Sir William Jaffray to court for debt. Jaffray, one of the 'Names' or private investors whose money backed the Lloyd's market, counterclaimed fraud.
Jaffray's claimed Lloyd's had concealed the extent of potential asbestos losses in the future, and had actively tried to recruit investors so that when losses hit the market they would have the capital to pay claims.
Because of its complexity, the case took more than two years to reach the courts. By then another 220 Names had joined Jaffray.
At stake for Lloyd's was its reputation, plus the potential of further court action; for the Names, debts of pounds 51m, plus court costs of around pounds 20m.
To ensure that global audiences understood the court case and judgement.
If Lloyd's won, to get across the message that this was the end of an era of litigation.
Strategy and Plan
Before the trial Lloyd's briefed the UK media and key US publications to explain the issues .
As the case began in February, Time magazine published a 23-page article about the case written from the point of view of the Names. Lloyd's reacted to this by mailshotting 5,000 brokers in the UK and US selling Lloyd's policies to explain what was going on. It also addressed the matter on its website, and communicated with the Government and regulators to put its point of view across.
During the court case (February - June) Lloyd's communicated with the insurance market via presentations and e-mail. There are over 40,000 people in the City linked to the market and it was important to keep them informed.
When the court adjourned all Lloyd's knew was that the rough date for the judgement was October, that it would have 48 hours warning that it was imminent, and only an hour's warning of what it would be.
Plans were drawn up involving PR agencies in the UK, US and Canada. Staff around the world were prepared to deal with the press, including the chairman and chief executive. A number of different scenarios had to be prepared depending on the judgement.
Judgement was delivered on 3 November - Lloyd's won the case. Its media campaign sprang into action - meeting its needs in different time zones around the world was the foremost concern.
The chairman and chief executive made a series of phone calls, beginning with the wire services in the UK and US, followed by interviews with UK broadsheets in the morning, and key US publications in the afternoon.
Meanwhile the PR team dealt principally with the insurance trade press.
Given the complexity of the case, accuracy was a big issue so the wire services and key websites were monitored and corrections asked for where appropriate.
Around 40 Lloyd's staff were also responsible for communicating the judgement to key audiences internationally, such as brokers, governments and regulators.
Measurement and Evaluation
In the UK the judgement was covered in all the broadsheets, on BBC radio and TV, by IRN, on key wire services and business websites, and in the insurance press. In the US The Wall Street Journal, New York Times and AP all reported the story. Time magazine ran a two-page report including an interview with the Lloyd's' chairman.
So far all reports have made it clear that Lloyd's won the case, and 90 per cent of coverage carried the key message that this is the end of an era of litigation in the insurance market.
Lloyd's got the judgement it wanted, and feels that its reputation has been upheld. Messages about the issues involved and the judgement were exhaustively communicated not only to the media but direct to key audiences.
One of the unexpected benefits of the case is that it has allowed Lloyd's to develop closer relationships with the media and increase understanding of its business. Internationally, the case has also had a big impact, enabling Lloyd's to considerably extend its range of contacts.