NEW YORK: WellPoint named Ricochet Public Relations as its AOR after working with the New York agency for two years.
The Indianapolis-based health benefits company, which represents 35 million members under its Blue Cross, Blue Shield, Anthem, and Unicare health plans, has never had an AOR, said Shannon Troughton, VP of PR at WellPoint. Its internal communications will continue to work with other firms as needed.
"It's really formalizing the partnership we've had," she added.
Services included in the seven-figure account include corporate branding, media relations, and reputation management, said Todd Aydelotte, president of Ricochet. A six-month negotiation period between WellPoint and Ricochet took place, but there was not a competitive bid and no RFP issued.
"As a Fortune 50 company, they could hire any agency," said Joshua Silverman, CEO of Ricochet. "Many have come and gone. It... says to us how important we are to them."
Troughton noted that one of the key reasons WellPoint chose Ricochet for the account was because of the agency's decision to provide its employees on the WellPoint account with a six-week training program regarding the company. It is based on Ricochet's six-month publicist certification program, which all of the firm's hires undergo.
Ricochet, initially brought on for media relations, including a three-month campaign in late 2007 for WellPoint's involvement with Zagat's physician rating survey, is currently working with WellPoint to release second-year results from its Member Health Index program. The index measures member health improvement based on preventative actions like immunizations, colonoscopies, and mammograms.
It is one of the larger, ongoing campaigns for WellPoint, Silverman said.