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Parallel Worlds: Media Relations and Mutual Fund Sales

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If you’re involved in media relations within the financial services industry, have you ever stopped to consider that you’re essentially in a sales position? If you haven’t, allow us to draw the parallels and offer some tips on how to succeed in media relations using proven sales strategies.

  • Media relations representative = Wholesaler
  • Company spokespeople = Mutual funds
  • Media outlet = Dealership
  • Reporters = Advisors
  • Readers = Clients

Now that you see how the roles align in media relations and sales, let’s get to those tips.

Relationship building

This is the granddaddy of all principles when it comes to sales effectiveness. When advisors are surveyed, they often say the quality of their wholesaler relationship is a key indicator of how much business they’ll give to a particular fund company.

Similarly, reporters will be more receptive to story pitches from media relations reps if they have a strong relationship.

Reporters will be more receptive to story pitches from media relations reps if they have a strong relationship.

Not only that, but when there’s negative news (or rumours) about a fund company or one of its people, the media will likely consult first with the company’s media rep – to get more details and determine whether there’s a legitimate story to proceed with – if they have a trusting relationship.

Create a contact strategy

One of the best ways to maintain relationships is to establish a contact schedule. If you’re in fund sales, you know to rotate through your list of advisors. If they’re great clients, you’ll hold regular in-person meetings, maybe take them to lunch or some event. Other advisors get less-frequent meetings or even phone calls only, depending on their status with you.

Media relations folks should follow the same approach, giving more attention to the media outlets and reporters you work with most often (or value the most), and then tiering your contact schedule accordingly.

Know what to sell

Wholesalers recognize which funds are hot and why advisors need them for their clients’ portfolios. Competition is fierce, so if wholesalers can differentiate their investment solutions, they stand a better chance of winning an advisor’s attention.

In media relations, you should know which portfolio managers or executives are in demand. As part of your media pitch, differentiate by showing why your spokesperson deserves to be interviewed and why readers will be attracted to this expert or topic of discussion.

Differentiate by showing why your spokesperson deserves to be interviewed and why readers will be attracted to this expert or topic of discussion.

Stay relevant

Since competition is heavy, a common wholesaler strategy to stay top of mind with advisors is to provide leave-behind materials and follow up to offer ideas on how to use a certain product in a client’s portfolio.

On the media relations side, you can pique a reporter’s interest by sending information about a notable portfolio manager or executive (i.e., your “product”).

To stay top of mind, give reporters compelling story ideas and potential angles they can take. They’ll appreciate your support and, as with wholesalers who help advisors build their business, you’ll position your relationship for continued success.

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