The financial services industry is undergoing transformative change in everything from administrative policy and investor expectations to automated technology and data analysis. Some developments promise positive momentum and others threaten damaging fallout for firms, but all of them present opportunities to shape a public image through media relations. If you’re a firm trying to build your brand by attracting favorable attention, here are a few tips to keep in mind when communicating with reporters:
Avoid subjective/general descriptors.
Although your firm may have “high-quality” products and “experienced” investment professionals, these details hold little value for reporters trying to make objective comparisons across a vast and competitive industry. Use numbers when pitching stories—plot annual assets to show company growth and chart returns to show competitive performance. Extract the most relevant work history details from your portfolio managers or key leaders to demonstrate how your experience gives you an advantage.
Break it down.
Explain complicated topics in layman’s terms. Reporters are likely to be more drawn to stories they understand well. Don’t assume the reporter understands how a derivative works, or what the relationship is between mezzanine debt and a leveraged buyout. Explain concepts on a granular level, but remember to also explain how they fit into the larger financial services landscape. Consider bringing to the interview an outline or summary of your expected comments the reporter can keep, especially if the story must be turned around on a tight deadline.
Analogies and lively quotes that evoke images and reveal personality will set you apart in financial services. They are rare, but even the more specialized trade publications want exciting copy. They want quotes that are succinct, but also colorful. Most readers or viewers won’t remember the portfolio manager detailing the mechanics of a fund, but they will remember the one who drew an analogy between a fund’s harvesting strategy and pigs eating at a trough.
Humanize the story.
Reporters don’t just hunt for stories, they seek people who can illustrate stories through personal experiences. They love anecdotes and narratives that reveal emotion, and often rely on them to breathe new life into second-day breaking news stories. While the issue may not be new, the way you relate the story might be. Explaining the necessity of implementing a good tax and estate plan is one story. An attorney who explains that through the eyes of a recently widowed client who failed to implement that plan is another story.
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