How much does it cost employers to gain public trust for their CMs?

Liberty Mutual is betting its $30 million will do the job

You know that case managers make the difference in returning employees to work safely and swiftly. You know that a good case manager is a patient’s best advocate in a confusing health care delivery system and that case managers are valuable assets to their organizations. But is your employer willing to put up money to get that message out?

Liberty Mutual Group in Boston launched a $30 million radio, print, and television campaign in March to create a warm, caring image with the help of a phrase that mirrors the organization’s mission statement: "to help people live safer, more secure lives." Not only do preliminary reports indicate the campaign has been good for business, but case managers featured in the ads have found the campaign has gained them personal recognition both inside and outside of the company.

"Too often, insurance companies are seen as cold. When people think of an insurance company, they see an image of a building without a name or a face," says Julie K. Johnson, RN, CCM, assistant vice president of medical and disability management for Liberty Mutual in the Dover, NH, office. "This business is very competitive. If we want to maintain a leading role in workers’ comp and other areas in which we provide service, we have to be willing to spend money to maintain our investment."

"Liberty Mutual has always been proactive in helping people live safer more secure lives. People think of insurance companies as big buildings that take in premium checks," agrees Lynn Newton, account manager in corporate communications for Liberty Mutual in Boston. "The ad campaign is designed to show that Liberty has experts helping people get back to work quicker — cutting red tape, not creating it. We want to put a human face on the company, and we chose experts whose work lined up with our marketing objectives to create that human face."

Liberty Mutual looked at its 37,000 employees and chose its 400-strong nurse case management division as one of those to highlight in the national campaign. "The selection of nurse case managers, and other experts, was a market-driven decision. We selected departments that would help us create the high-quality, caring image we wanted to present." says Newton. "We went to the managers of each of the product or service divisions selected and asked supervisors to nominate individuals to appear in the ads. We looked for employees who, in talking about their work, could demonstrate that Liberty helps people live safer and more productive lives. It also was a special recognition for the employees chosen."

A healing touch

Both telephonic and on-site case managers are featured in the campaign. "We often think that what we do every day is very routine," notes Johnson. "But when we begin describing the work we do to help employees get back to work, it becomes extraordinary to others. It’s not only helped the organization, but it’s helped the case management department, as well. When people hear the term nurse case manager’ now, they associate it with value. This is something we absolutely need — not nice, but necessary."

"I get e-mail from Liberty employees all over the country who have heard the radio ad and want to tell me how great it is," says Kristy Baum, RN, BSN, CDMS, an on-site workers’ comp medical case manager for Liberty Mutual in Louisville, KY, who was featured in a radio ad. "I think initially employees see the workers’ comp case manager in an adversarial role. The ad gave me an opportunity to explain in my own words that even though I work for the insurance company, I have a responsibility to see that treatment is appropriate and things are moving well. Too many people don’t un derstand that this is what we do. The ad gave me a chance to explain my job to others. I was honored."

She says physicians she works with have heard the ads. "I’ve gone into a doctor’s office and had the physician or the staff say, I heard you on the radio.’ It sparks interest in my role. They say, Tell me again what it is you do.’ It’s been a very positive response. I even had one physician call just to leave me a voice message that he had heard the radio ad. It’s given Liberty as a whole a more positive look."

Print ads feature a telephonic case manager with the tag line: "I heal the injured with my index finger." Johnson says she appreciates the opportunity to highlight the entire case management division. "We were able to show both ways we deliver case management services. Our nurses are our best assets. It was wonderful to able to demonstrate to the staff how much they were appreciated by highlighting them in the campaign."

Case managers work hard and are often their own worst critics. "As a manager, it’s important for me to remember how important feedback is," notes Johnson. "For the case management staff to see that out of 37,000 employees, two of their own were selected to represent the company was a wonderful affirmation that this division is an important part of our company."

The multimillion-dollar campaign was developed by kirshenbaum bond & partners, a communications company with offices in New York City and San Francisco. Each ad promotes action. Print ads, which appeared in business and financial publications such as Fortune, Business Week, Smart Money, and Working Mother, include "insurance in action" tips. TV ads appeared during programs such as "Dateline," "60 Minutes," and "20/20."

Naturally, Liberty is paying close attention to the return on its $30 million investment. "We’ve hired an outside research firm to conduct a study to gauge the effectiveness of the campaign and generate a report every three months," Newton says. "It’s a little too soon for a published report at this time, but what we’ve seen so far is very promising. It looks like this is working."

The ad campaign has attracted local media. "An employee from the Boston-area featured in one of the ads was highlighted in the feature article in the local newspaper," says Johnson. "He works in the research center, and the article talked about all the work he does. That generated some positive public relations for Liberty, as well."