Media professionals face myriad challenges: They work on strict deadlines, usually under stressful working conditions; they are required to cover topics they may know nothing about; and, despite their best efforts, they are continually criticized by politicians, professionals and the public.
At the same time, their voices are heard by large audiences and their power as a direct liaison to the public’s ears and eyes is indisputable. For a financial professional, this means that no matter how many years in the financial services industry, you can grow your practice using the media’s power–as well as its shortcomings–to your professional advantage.
Our biggest competitors are not our fellow financial planners, insurance agents, investment advisors, stockbrokers or other financial professionals working with the public; our biggest competition is, in fact, the media. I find it interesting that so many in the financial services industry concern themselves with one another’s business when there is so much new business out there to be had. Disseminating quality information to the public is our real challenge. And it is not just in our own best interest to inform the media; it is also our responsibility as financial professionals.
How do I know the media is so powerful? Because I’ve experienced numerous examples of successful media partnering: I’ve performed more than 130 live financial segments on the local NBC news station. I’m an editorial consultant for Medical Economics magazine. I’m listed among their 150 Best Financial Advisors for Physicians. I’m the creator and author of a book series. And I have been quoted countless times in a large variety of media, both local and national, including Money.
Reading something in print or seeing it discussed on television makes just about anything seem more valuable. Consider reality TV: Millions of people find their own realities too humdrum to discuss even with their spouses, but show them someone else’s life on TV and instantly they are fascinated!
Obviously, appealing to the media and therefore the public is not only about fun and games. Because there is a high level of accountability in committing your words to print, there is inevitably a higher level of credibility that goes with that. Similarly, the recognition that comes with seeing a face on television builds trust and a higher level of expectation. The question of why the media is so powerful is not as important as the reality of how you can capitalize on that.
The following list contains 8 great ways to gain credibility by working through the media no matter how long you’ve been dedicated to your field.
1. Write an opinion position paper. This is a short piece on a topic you feel strongly about or one that seems to come up often in your practice. You can print the paper as a newsletter or attach a cover page to it. So, when clients ask you about the topic in question, your opinion is ready for them in print, which is more credible than simply telling them what you think.
2. Write a monthly or quarterly newsletter. The newsletter could be printed or sent online to all of your clients and contacts. (If you choose to e-mail, don’t forget an “unsubscribe” line in order to comply with spam laws.)
3. Write letters to the editor. The newspapers you read or the trade journals your clients read and discuss are the perfect places to send comments or letters that could get published in a future issue where your clients are sure to see your name.
4. Write letters to writers. When you read an article of particular interest in the Wall Street Journal or any publication you like, send a letter to the writer and comment on their article, then offer yourself as a resource for future articles.
5. Write a column. Whether it is for a particular company newsletter, a church bulletin, the local newspaper, a trade journal or other publication where you might find potential clients, offer to write a regular piece; editors are always on the lookout for quality writing by a seasoned professional.
6. Offer yourself as an expert interviewee. Send a letter to journalists in your local paper or from your local news station and offer yourself as an expert in your particular subject matter. Also, many websites for writers have boards looking for interviewees. The next time a writer or reporter is doing a story on your area of expertise, they just might think of you.
7. Write a book. Nothing gains more credibility than becoming an author. If you don’t like to write or don’t have the time, then a ghostwriter can do the work for you!
8. Finance your own TV, radio show or blog “program.” The format might be a call-in program for advice seekers or a talk show with experts. With all the cable TV and radio stations, this is not as far-fetched as it may seem. Using a blog format with your own website can be done inexpensively and conveniently from your own office.
The point in each of these is, again, when something is written or widely viewed, it demonstrates your expertise, your willingness to take the time to educate the public, and your ability to organize and articulate your thoughts. Media exposure shows that you are a professional. And it lends credibility with writers and editors who are more likely to quote you in an article to be read by prospects and clients.