CNA hotly tipped to be in talks with top shops

CHICAGO: CNA Financial Corp., a dollars 17.1 billion insurance company, is interviewing public relations firms for a major corporate reputation management campaign.

CHICAGO: CNA Financial Corp., a dollars 17.1 billion insurance company, is interviewing public relations firms for a major corporate reputation management campaign.

CHICAGO: CNA Financial Corp., a dollars 17.1 billion insurance

company, is interviewing public relations firms for a major corporate

reputation management campaign.



Company officials have been talking with prominent PR agencies for at

least two months. Firms in the hunt reportedly include la creme de la

creme of the global agencies: Burson-Marsteller, Hill & Knowlton,

Fleishman-Hillard, Ketchum and Edelman.



CNA would not comment on whether an agency search is underway, saying

only that it uses PR firms on a project basis and has no agency of

record at the moment. Regarding future PR plans, assistant vice

president for corporate public relations Kevin Barber said only, ’We

think this is competitive information and have no comment.’



However, sources told PRWeek that Karen Foley, group VP of corporate

development, has been heading the search for a PR firm. ’They’re going

rather slowly and methodically,’ said the source. ’They want to develop

a corporate brand that serves the disparate needs of their

divisions.’



While some pros pitching for the business expect a contract to be

awarded within weeks, others think the process could take longer. When a

deal is announced, it will likely be in the high six-figure range and

could even top dollars 1 million in PR fees. ’To achieve what they’re

talking about, I would say high six, low seven figures would be in the

ballpark,’ said the source.



The pitching process has been a protracted one. Some agencies have been

asked to make presentations in front of as many as eight different CNA

officials. As of mid-July, the presentations had not been concluded.



CNA has been refocusing its business in recent months. In June, it sold

its personal insurance lines business for dollars 140 million to Chicago

neighbor Allstate. Allstate promptly set up a new entity, CNA Personal

Insurance, to manage the business as a separate dollars 1.7 billion

company.



’We’ve been clear that our strategy is to sharpen our focus in those

businesses where we are now or where we can become a market leader,’ CNA

CEO Bernard L. Hengesbaugh said at the time of the sale. CNA’s core

products are in the commercial and specialty property-casualty

businesses.





THE TOP FIVE US LIFE INSURANCE FIRMS

1      CNA                               dollars 147,280,000

2      Primerica                         dollars 143,463,085

3      Northwestern Mutual               dollars 104,159,919

4      Metropolitan                       dollars 93,827,143

5      Allstate                           dollars 67,821,752

Total premiums written in 1997, supplied by Best’s Review

1998 Policy Report.



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