Today’s guest post in our PR series comes from marketing and PR professional, Marie Swift. Marie Swift is head strategist/chief executive at Impact Communications, a full-service marketing communications firm serving a select group of independent financial advisors and allied institutions.
There’s an old Bonnie Raitt song that says, “let’s give them something to talk about” – and in today’s transparent, digital world giving people something positive to talk about could be essential to a financial firm’s long-term business health. When a financial advisor is published in or quoted by a credible media outlet, there are lots of good things for people to talk about, things that position them and their firm in a positive manner and to share via email campaigns, website and blog posts, as reprints in introductory packets and on social media accounts.
Being seen as a media resource also creates the “wow factor” when people are checking out the firm to ensure it is a credible professional resource. It also makes it easier for others to refer right fit clients to your firm. The reality today is that it is simply easier for clients and strategic partners to send a link to an article or a website than it is to try and explain the value of working with you and your firm. There is a nice “halo effect” that occurs when a third-party media piece that quotes or profiles you accompanies the referring person’s note or conversation.
I’ve seen this time and time again over my 20+ years working with financial firms: PR, done right, can produce great dividends. Bottom line: Adding a healthy dose of earned media to your marketing plan is one of the best things you can do to impress the right people and earn share of mind.
1. What Can you pitch to the media?
Anything that’s on your mind! Start an idea file. What are you talking with your staff about and/or telling your clients? How can you tie into current events? Hinge to something that’s in the news or looming on the horizon and you have a winning formula. Also, keep a file with insights and statistics from industry publications such as the Journal of Financial Planning or InvestementNews; you may be able to use that data or industry trend information in a future pitch.
2. How do you know what’s important to a journalist?
Follow their work for a while. Read their articles, listen to their shows and watch their broadcasts. Only then should you suggest a topic that will help their audience (and position you as the expert to help flesh out the storyline). Unless your pitch is extremely timely, it’s usually best to compose a thoughtful email with a compelling subject line. Tell the journalist why your suggested topic is important for their audience, work in a little something about your conversations with clients, and offer to be a resource should he or she decide to pursue the story angle.
3. How will you know if your ideas are worth submitting?
You can get a good idea by studying the media attention other advisors get. Set up a Google News Alert for peers you want to emulate and/or competitors you’d like to dethrone. Notice what they are talking about in the media and consider how you can advance the conversation with your own good insights and information.
4. Besides proactively pitching journalists or writing news releases, what else can you do to generate media attention?
Be diligent in responding to press requests. Some organizations such as FPA, NAPFA and Garrett Planning Nework will send you real press requests from real journalists working on real stories; simply take a few minutes to opt in to that list of interested members. This is a member benefit that should not be ignored. The more thoughtful, concise replies you send in, the more opportunity that you might be mentioned (some journalists will simply lift your comments right out of the emailed response, so be sure it’s a good one) or contacted for an interview. Another benefit of watching those press requests, even if you don’t respond to them: You can also glean ideas for pitching local media outlets or writing up your own thought leadership pieces for self-publication in your newsletters and blog posts by considering the press request topics.
5. If you get a journalist “bite” and they want to talk to you, what can you do to ensure you will make it into the piece?
The key to being quoted accurately – and more often – can be summed up in two words: sound bites. There is the constant concern that something said in an interview could be taken out of context, and sometimes financial professionals spend time with a journalist only to be frustrated when they find that the finished article does not include their comments at all.