Campaign: Norwich Union debuts digital flood maps - Corporate PR

Campaign: Norwich Union Flood Map

Client: Norwich Union

PR team: QBO Bell Pottinger/in-house

Timescale: February-March 2004

Budget: £25,000

The insurance industry's standard system of assessing the flood risk to a property based on its post code was turned on its head by Norwich Union when it launched a digital flood map that could gauge the danger to individual properties. No longer would residents in top-floor flats pay high premiums because the ground floor was at risk, and homes that were in relatively safe areas of flood-prone districts would see reductions in their premiums. Having spent £5m to produce the flood map, however, Norwich Union had to make sure that enough people - and the right people - got to hear about it.


To position Norwich Union as a pioneer in the insurance industry, and raise awareness of the flood map - and its benefits - to home and commercial property owners, especially in high-risk parts of the country. To ultimately increase the number of property insurance policies for Norwich Union.

Strategy and Plan

The flood map itself, which examines flood-prone areas of Shrewsbury and Norfolk, was commissioned two years ago, and an announcement of what it set out to achieve was made to the press at that time. In the months leading up to the map's completion, Norwich Union gave updates on its progress to journalists and arranged several behind-the-scenes tours for the media to see how it was being compiled.

Ahead of the map's official launch date, 3 March, QBO Bell Pottinger and the in-house PR team gave briefings under embargo to the national, trade and online financial media about the map's implications. Nearer the time, the national news desks and environment correspondents were briefed about the map's implications, and case studies of home owners who stood to benefit from the map were given to selected media as exclusives.

The National Flood Forum was consulted about the map and a quote from the organisation was included in Norwich Union's press release. The Environment Agency was also briefed on the map for comment.

On the launch date, the PR team held a radio day in London and set up live TV interviews with Norwich Union spokespeople in Shrewsbury, Norfolk and London.

Measurement and Evaluation

The campaign led to 18 pieces of national print coverage, including full pages in The Daily Telegraph, the Daily Mirror and The Times. The story was broadcast 25 times on national TV and 57 times on regional TV throughout the launch day.

Around 116 radio interviews were conducted, and coverage was also achieved in the insurance trade press. Broadcast coverage included a story on Radio 4's Today programme, and on the BBC lunchtime and evening news bulletins using the B-roll footage the PR team supplied.


In the first two weeks after the launch, Norwich Union provided approximately 2,000 quotes to potential customers in the launch areas and had around 20 to 30 emails a day from potential customers, local authorities, town planners and makers of flood prevention devices.

Norwich Union is now working on producing flood maps of other parts of the UK.

Daily Mirror personal finance editor John Husband says the PR material and assistance given to him was excellent and the story that resulted was immediately evident in what he was given. He was supplied with a case study, and a front-page story with flood pictures was featured in Mirror Money.

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