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Aflac - Communications Team of the Year


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Company: Aflac, Columbus, GA
Entry Submitted By: HK Strategies
Company Description: Aflac is a Fortune 500 company, providing financial protection to more than 50 million people worldwide. When a policyholder or insured gets sick or hurt, Aflac pays cash benefits fairly, promptly and directly to the insured. For nearly six decades, Aflac voluntary insurance policies have given policyholders the opportunity to focus on recovery, not financial stress.
Nomination Category: Corporate Communications, Investor Relations, & Public Relations Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Communications Team of the Year

Nomination Title: Aflac Corporate Communications Team

Tell the story about what this nominated team achieved since January 1, 2016 (up to 650 words). Focus on specific accomplishments, and relate these accomplishments to past performance or industry norms.

Throughout 2016, Aflac Corporate Communications drove positive change by launching and supporting numerous efforts to maintain and strengthen Aflac’s reputation, including corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs, ethics initiatives and philanthropic campaigns. These undertakings have not only promoted social good within Aflac and the communities it supports, but have also driven positive impact for the business, ultimately spurring a significant 3.4 point increase in Aflac’s Reputation Institute RepTrak Pulse score, considered the gold standard of corporate reputation management. This increase is the result of the team’s collective focus on corporate reputation, centered on programs that extend beyond the company’s insurance offerings and position Aflac as a responsible, charitable and ethical organization. In addition, Aflac has been named a great place to work by PR giants PRWeek and PRNews.

Major initiatives in 2016:

CSR Survey

In 2016, the team secured over 3,200 media placements across broadcast, print and digital media to drive yearlong, national conversations about ethics, CSR and diversity. The team oversaw Aflac’s second annual scientific survey of more than 6,000 consumers and investors – private and institutional – gaining insights about their perspectives on social responsibility and philanthropic efforts. The 2016 Aflac CSR Survey found 83 percent of investors are more inclined to invest in stock of a company known for its social responsibility, showing that a respected reputation can make as much of an impact on Wall Street as it can with consumers. The survey also served as a benchmark for Aflac to plan and implement its CSR program.

With Catherine Hernandez-Blades, Aflac’s SVP of Corporate Communications, as spokesperson for the survey, Aflac reached 6.9 million viewers via 709 television placements. The team leveraged the study to position Aflac as a thought leader and industry pioneer in CSR, securing media coverage that drove consumer awareness and reinforced the responsible and ethical reputation that is a key component of Aflac’s brand.

Philanthropy PR

In 2016, Aflac Corporate Communications sponsored CureFest, a national grassroots event aligned with Aflac’s primary philanthropic cause – eradicating childhood cancer. To enhance awareness, the team conducted an SMT, reaching about 103 million people via 200 TV and radio placements. CNBC’s Squawk Box invited Hernandez-Blades for a five-minute interview, making her the only corporate executive to discuss the importance of CSR on that show in 2016.

After Hernandez-Blades successfully approached The Washington Post with a vision of gathering scientists, innovators, celebrities, patients and policymakers to discuss cancer research and treatment — a collaboration that led to the Chasing Cancer Summit — the team supported this effort through an SMT with Hernandez-Blades that produced 6 million impressions.

Throughout the year, the team bolstered support for Aflac’s Duckprints program, which supports Aflac’s mission to end childhood cancer. Aflac donates $2 – up to $1.5 million – for every #Duckprints post, and in 2016 garnered a record 900,711 social media actions, meeting (and exceeding) the goal for the first time.

Open Enrollment Survey

Recognizing a need for better benefits education and information about open enrollment, Aflac wanted to further establish itself as a trusted resource among consumers and used proprietary research to do it. The 2016 Aflac Open Enrollment Survey provided fresh, meaningful data and insights on improving the benefits enrollment experience. Through a strategic media relations program, Aflac’s team released the results of the survey to enhance benefits decision-making for employees and business owners. The campaign generated coverage that resulted in more than 400 million impressions. Media placements were secured in numerous top-tier national outlets, including Forbes, US News & World Report, CNBC and USA Today (Print – Snapshot), with additional stories on Yahoo!, Yahoo! Finance, Kaiser Health News and MSN.

Combined, these initiatives enhanced Aflac’s reputation and garnered the company praise. In 2017, Ethisphere named Aflac one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies for the 11th consecutive year. Aflac was also shortlisted as award finalists for their CSR Report and overall campaign by Bulldog Reporter and PRNews.

In bullet-list form, briefly summarize up to ten (10) of the chief accomplishments of this nominated communications team since the beginning of 2016 (up to 150 words).

-Achieved a 3.4 point increase in Aflac’s Reputation Institute RepTrak Pulse score.
-Reached an audience of 1.4 billion+ in 2016 across earned media.
-Conducted the only scientific CSR survey of more than 6,000 consumers and investors, reaching 6.9 million viewers via 709 television placements.
-Conducted an SMT driving awareness of CureFest, reaching about 103 million people via 200 placements, including CNBC’s Squawk Box.
-Bolstered support for Aflac’s Duckprints program, garnering 900,711 social media actions and meeting the goal of $1.5 million toward fighting childhood cancer for the first time.
-Supported Chasing Cancer with SMT producing 6 million impressions.
-Garnered top-tier media for Aflac’s Open Enrollment survey, producing 400 million+ impressions.
-PRWeek’s 2016 Best Places to Work U.S.
-PR News’ Top Places to Work in PR for 2016
-PR News’ 2016 Platinum PR Awards PR Team of the Year