Gill Galassi, head of public relations at Swinton Insurance, tells us about working with the business as it celebrates its 60th anniversary, how she is creating an in-house PR team and the dynamics of the insurance sector.
What made you want to work at Swinton?
As a proud Mancunian, I’m aware of Swinton’s heritage and history. The business was founded in the city 60 years ago and is now one of the largest private sector employers in the area.
My early career was spent working for insurer RSA and, more recently, I worked for Well Pharmacy. Swinton has a unique business model, with a network of almost 200 high street branches, so I’m looking forward to combining my experience of both the retail and insurance sectors in the new role as head of PR.
What is exciting you about 2017 at Swinton?
The business has created several new digital and marketing positions to support what is going to be a very busy 12 months. This year marks our 60th anniversary and will see more than 1,000 head office & contact centre staff move to a brand new HQ in the centre of Manchester. At the same time, the expectations of our customers are changing thanks to advances in technology, so we’re investing in our digital capabilities. I’m looking forward to being part of the team with the opportunities this presents and helping build the right plan to guide us through an exciting period of change.
How does your new role fit into that drive?
PR is critical to raising awareness of who we are and what we stand for across all media platforms. My focus will be to develop our external narrative and manage our reputation and brand profile so our insurance partners and existing and potential customers understand why they should place their trust in us.
What are your personal goals and expectations for your new role?
I’d like to visibly demonstrate the value that PR can add to a business. In terms of my expectations from the team, it would be that we each play our part in bringing the Swinton story to life across traditional and digital media both regionally and nationally.
On a personal level it’s getting that work / life balance right – which isn’t always easy with my seven and eight year old sons running around at home!
Where would you like to see the most improvement? Do you anticipate any challenges?
I’m establishing a dedicated in-house PR team – a first for Swinton – so the challenge will be to get the team up and running as quickly as possible. I’m working closely with the leadership team at Swinton to make that happen.
The changing dynamics of the insurance sector presents a number of challenges, too. We’ve seen the marketplace become increasingly competitive thanks to the pace of technological advancements and intensifying regulatory pressure.
What has been the highlight of your career to date?
There’s been so many it’s hard to choose from. I loved leading on the rebrand of Co-Operative Pharmacy to Well. It culminated in the craziest four days of my life – two days of events in Birmingham followed by two solid days of press briefings.
My manager there, Tim Davies, was truly inspirational and really helped me grow and push myself. When I worked at PZ Cussons, I was also lucky enough to spend time in Nigeria – one of its biggest markets. I met some fantastic people out there and had some amazing experiences. I’m looking forward to creating some future highlights at Swinton.