Now that Brad Wilson is pushing his way into the captain’s seat at Blue Cross I thought I would offer him a few friendly suggestions on how to improve the public image of his generally disliked company. I’m even willing to post these pointers without charging the big fees Blue Cross pays to Capstrat. Feel free to add your own suggestions to the box.
1. Stop lying about stupid stuff.
Your company is like one of those annoying people who just makes things up for no particular reason, and that really galls the public. I can understand lying about the big things, like claiming that you didn’t run the State Health Plan into the ground. But, for example, the myths and facts section about health reform on your website claims that employer-sponsored insurance is not on the decline. That’s just silly.
And you guys keep pretending that if a public option passes you’re closing up shop. Please. When you argue a policy in public at least try to keep it credible.
2. Stop engaging in cartoonishly evil behavior.
Some of your company’s stunts would be entertaining if they weren’t so incredibly mean-spirited. Drawing up plans for web ads that mislead the public about health reform; lobbying against the expansion of health insurance for children; refusing to help the State Health Plan after running it into the ground. Guys, come on.
3. Stop hiding behind the flaks.
When you call many North Carolina companies and ask about finances the public relations person gets you in touch with the Chief Financial Officer. When you call with questions about the overall direction of the business the pr person gets you in touch with the CEO or COO. Not at Blue Cross.
If you call about anything they trot out poor Lew Borman. He doesn’t know about the company’s latest policies or the planned bond offering or the proposed premium hikes but he’ll get right back to the questioner with a bland email statement that says nothing.
When you hide behind flaks for mundane questions it looks like your company is hiding something. When your company does do something worthy of criticism you can’t explain your side to the press or the public because no one trusts your company. No one trusts your company because you use a spokesperson in every single situation, no matter how small.
That’s my top three suggestions. What did I leave out?