7 questions for new Assurant global comms SVP Linda Recupero

The Nasdaq veteran chatted with PRWeek during her first day on the job at Assurant.

Assurant has named Nasdaq alum Linda Recupero SVP of global communications as the insurance giant, which has assets valued at $30 billion, pivots away from the health market into housing and lifestyle.

Recupero’s responsibilities will include creating and rolling out communication programs that advance the insurance company’s brand and increase awareness of its strategy. She will also promote Assurant’s CSR profile and lead its global internal and external comms.

Recupero will be based in New York and report to Francesca Luthi, EVP and chief communications and marketing officer.

During her first day on the job, Recupero sat down for a phone interview with PRWeek to field questions about the industry and the future of Assurant.

Less than a year ago, Assurant said it would exit the health insurance market by 2016 and focus on housing and lifestyle. How has that progressed? What role will you play in it?
Given the change, I think there’s definitely a lot to be communicated about. There’s a lot to share and help better educate and build a better reputation around what this company is now and where it’s going. It’s a great opportunity to better brand the company for the future.

What are some of your core duties?
I’m basically responsible for global external and internal communications. The title is more enterprise communications, so SVP of enterprise communications.

What are some challenges you foresee in your new position?
I think there are great opportunities to help build the brand on a global basis. I think it’s a tremendous brand; it’s a Fortune 500 company, but I think the brand isn’t as well known externally as it needs to be. That’s the first challenge, and then internally, gelling together the team and the company from a communications perspective in terms of the strategy going forward.

How do you hope to overcome those two challenges?
The two are very much interrelated. I think bringing the team together and making certain everyone within the company understands what the strategy is, and working from an external communications perspective, from traditional media as well as social media, [will be important] to really better educate people about the brand and where’s it going.

The way the CEO communicates about the brand is that it’s much more than an insurance company and much more of a larger risk management solutions provider.

When you say it’s much larger than an insurance company, what do you mean by that?
In the way people traditionally think about insurance companies and what they offer. The strategy is to think bigger and broader in terms of overall risk management.

How does your past experience inform your new position?
I think a lot of what I’ve done previously is really helpful for this new role. I started my career early on Weber-Shandwick and Burson-Marsteller running brand marketing practices for them. Doing a lot of work on brand and reputation building has been helpful from a creative perspective, just really understanding what affects corporate reputation. Working with organizations like Nasdaq brings you into that business-to-business, financial services realm. That helps, too. Plus having worked for HSBC and Nasdaq are examples of two public companies where what really needs to be communicated to better help our key stakeholders is critical.

What are some of the biggest factors that will affect Assurant’s reputation?
I think certainly the fact that the company is customer-focused is really what’s important. Again, I have a lot to learn about the business. But understanding what an important focus the customers are, that helps set the tone for the entire reputation for the company. Really knowing what customers need, what they want, is really going to drive the reputation and the focus of everyone on delivering that in the best way possible. CSR is a very critical piece for Assurant in elevating our reputation and our focus in that area.

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