June 14, 2012

Media Relations Strategy Can Help You Beat the Competition

Establishing and maintaining an effective media relations program can be a valuable addition to your practice. Besides helping promote your business, creating brand and product awareness, it can raise visibility in a crowded market, making your services stand out. It helps position you as a credible spokesperson, which can help attract new clients while reinforcing relationships with existing ones.

Even though a media relations program is a large opportunity for advisors, few advisors rely heavily on one to acquire or keep clients. According to the latest AdvisorBenchmarking survey, only about 2% list media coverage as a business-building method (See chart 1).

Moreover, only about 8% of advisors surveyed said they keep in touch with clients via press releases (see Chart 2), so in general, using the media to support their business is not widespread. Advisors who develop a media relations strategy, therefore, may have an edge over the competition. 

To be of value to a reporter, you have to contribute to the newsworthiness of the story. Often, that’s a question of timeliness—commenting on recent market events, for instance, but also knowing how to make a larger topic more accessible—for example, how to position retirement accounts when markets are in turmoil.

Advisors who know the audience and demographics of a particular news outlet, or can explain how national or global stories affect local news consumers, are ideal sources since they can help reporters obtain unique and compelling information quickly. And remember, reporters often use people’s experiences and words to frame a story, so be sure you’re able to discuss the impact of products or services on people and the way they live.

Establishing a Media Presence

There are two essential elements of any media relations program: targeting the media and preparing for media opportunities. These tips may help boost your presence in the media.

  • Be ready to respond. To engage a reporter, it helps to have some message points that you are prepared to speak about. You’ll likely receive unexpected questions, but the more you set the agenda, the more likely you’ll be portrayed in a positive light. Good reporters invariably ask tough questions, so prepare responses to troublesome questions in advance so that you are not caught off guard. A two-sentence summary of your business and experience comes in handy—it gives reporters a way to quickly and easily explain to their readers or listeners who you are and what you do.
  • Cultivate media contacts. Create media distribution lists for news releases you prepare. Prioritize them so that the outlets most useful to your business get most of your attention. Familiarize yourself with reporters and those whose regular writing involves financial markets or trends, paying close attention to different reporters’ styles. Don’t hesitate to reach out to reporters to offer to serve as a subject-matter expert whenever they are writing investment-related articles.
     
  • Offer good story ideas. Understand what the media need from an expert spokesperson—often, it’s the ability to explain succinctly complicated markets or investments without resorting to jargon or trite phrases. Talk about the questions you’re getting from clients and how you’re responding. Offer a fresh perspective, which can give you an opportunity to discuss what’s different about your firm or your service offering. Keep an eye out for that unusual human interest story, such as one about a client who has achieved financial success but focuses on giving back to his or her community.

A successful media relations program requires commitment and discipline, and it often pays to stick to simple and practical rules. Gaining positive coverage and building relationships with the media can be an effective tool to help you grow your practice.

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