Daniel Durazo, Director of Communications at Allianz Global Assistance, and winner of the Corporate Travel Category, shares his experience conducting research and surveys from his key audience. Additionally, you’ll hear tips about generating research with news hooks that the media will want to pick up on.
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NARRATOR: It’s SPOKEies® University from DS Simon media featuring Daniel Durazo from Allianz Global Assistance.
CAROLINA OSMA: Welcome to the SPOKEies University. Carolina Osma Senior Marketing Associate at DS Media. We are here today to talk to our SPOKEies Award Winners about the importance of in-house spokespeople. So with us today we have Daniel Durazo, he was the winner of the Corporate Travel Category and he is joining us today. So welcome.
DANIEL DURAZO: Thank you so much for having me.
CAROLINA OSMA: Oh yeah absolutely. So Daniel can you just tell us a little bit about what you do at Allianz and what the company is, your role there, how you participate as a spokesperson and just a quick overview of your campaign.
DANIEL DURAZO: Sure I’d be happy to. I’m Director of Communications at Allianz Global Assistance, which is a travel insurance provider-one of the largest in the world, and I manage public relations, communications, social media, influencer campaigns things like that, and I’m the primary spokesperson for us across all of our products and channels and we’re really proud this year to win a SPOKEies® and we’re really appreciative of the honor and one of the reasons that we think we won was this is the ninth year that we put out our vacation confidence index which is a survey we do every year to gauge how confident Americans are, that they’ll be able to take a summer vacation how much they’ll spend. Things like that. We’ve got terrific media results from it and we’re really proud of the results and happy that we could have such a great outcome.
CAROLINA OSMA: Well we’re really happy for you and we’re very proud of you and your team. And that’s a lot of responsibilities. You do a lot of work. So the campaign that was submitted, it was about the survey that you had done about the security that people, most specifically Americans, feel when they’re traveling abroad. And so we know that you had initially conducted this survey and then due to current events regarding terrorism you actually had to change it to reflect what was going on in the world. So can you just tell us a little bit about being flexible with these things?
DANIEL DURAZO: Sure it’s really important to be flexible and we’re always looking for a news hook. So it’s really hard to predict what those hooks are going to be. And in the case of this survey we found terrorism which is a really unfortunate circumstance in our world today, but it was a really good news hoax from the media because the media is very interested in how terrorism impacts travel and travelers. So we grab that news hook. We changed our survey a little bit to take advantage of that news hook and the results were terrific. The media really picked up on kind of the helpful information that we provided and the timeliness of it.
CAROLINA OSMA: OK sure. I’m sure now that we’re talking about the media, we did want to ask you about this because terrorism can be such a hot topic to discuss. And so sometimes you can have a lot of positive but then sometimes a lot of negative reaction from the media. And so what was the reaction like from the media? How did you handle it? And for spokespeople watching this, or communications professional watching this, What do you recommend for them to do?
DANIEL DURAZO: Well specifically for terrorism it really is a double edged sword for us because we have a really positive message and that’s travel insurance can help, in cases of terrorism because it allows you to cancel your trip if a destination has been impacted by terrorism. You can get all your money back so you can decide to take the trip at a later time or even go someplace else. We think that’s a really positive message. And we don’t really want to scare people because terrorism is still fairly rare, and we don’t want people to think “well it’s not safe to travel”, because in most cases it’s very safe to travel. If I have tips for people of what we’ve learned from our own surveys, are that you want it to be newsworthy, so you want to make sure that you’re working with a topic that the media is going to be interested in. You also want it to be timely. So you want to hook into whatever news hooks might be out there and maybe the most important tip I can give is that you want the survey information to be proprietary and that’s–only we have this information because we hired a researcher to do the survey and that is proprietary to us. And also the methodology is very strong. We can point to a very high confidence that the information is reliable or proprietary and confident in the methodology are two really important things.
CAROLINA OSMA: Yeah absolutely. And say that there was a spokesperson or a communications professional, but they also wanted to do a survey very similar to yours or maybe a poll or maybe just some type of research and uses in their communications campaign- what would you recommend these communications professionals about how they should go about conducting this research?
DANIEL DURAZO: Well, being on the corporate side I really do rely on our public relations agency quite a bit to help come up with topics that we can explore. And also pitch it after it’s done. We also work with a very good polling firm called Itsis. So it’s good to find an expert in the polling in that way you can be assured that your methodology is going to be solid and you’re not going to have to be defending it. So we’re really working with the experts on the media relations side and the research side I think is really important.
CAROLINA OSMA: OK absolutely most definitely is. And now that we’re talking about credibility we also know that journalists they prefer to talk to in-house people, that are representing those brands over third party spokespeople. So are you working at a Allianz. What would you say, would you say that this actually gave you more credibility, that you were able to work within the company over maybe hiring somebody that, maybe you know you just pay them to represent you but they may not necessarily know what’s going on within the company. How do you think that journalists react to the fact that your in-house?
DANIEL DURAZO: Well I’ll tell you I am in-house but I spent 20 years in public relations agencies before I went in-house. So it gave me a great background in media relations and how to work with journalists. So there’s different types of spokespeople I’m an in-house spokespeople. We sometimes use agency spokespeople, and we also use influencers to that third party endorser that you’re talking about. But I think the media really responds well to the in-house spokesperson because you’re closer to the information, you’re closer to the company. You can offer insights perhaps that no one else can. So, I think it’s really important for the in-house spokesperson to be someone who is well versed in media relations is comfortable with speaking to the media and does it frequently so that, that comfort level increases over time.
CAROLINA OSMA: Absolutely. Well thank you so much Daniel for joining us. It was a pleasure to have you. And again, congratulations on your award.
DANIEL DURAZO: Thank you so much we’re really honored to win a SPOKEies® and we really appreciate it.