Most financial advisors, insurance professionals and money managers have thought, at one time or another, that they should take advantage of the services of a professional public relations firm, but they usually take no action for numbers of reasons:
? They lack a plan for evaluating a PR practitioner.
? They don’t see themselves as the expert that the media needs.
? They are sure they cannot afford the cost.
Any PR practitioner evaluated as a strategic partner for your firm should be able to answer four key questions and their answers must make sense to you.
1. What does the PR firm you are talking with accomplish for you, the client?
Different firms have different skills and competencies. All PR firms must offer one core service: the ability to create relevant message points that clearly describe for your prospects what you do, for whom and with what expected result.
A strategic plan cannot be written until it is clear how you wish to be known in your community. If your prospective firm has a great history with retail products, be wary. You are selling trust, not a product or service. If you cannot establish trust with your prospects you will not get to the product or service you hope to sell.
Some PR firms excel in the development of strategic plans and have the contacts and persistence to put you in front of the media you have identified as being read or seen by your target prospects. Others may rely upon special events or direct mail. Keep in mind that a good media campaign that generates feature articles incorporating your thoughtful quotes is important.
Some firms will encourage you to develop a direct mail campaign, seminars, or special events. However, when you become a trusted expert in the media and are able to use newspapers and magazines, or online magazine articles as third party endorsements, you have something solid and concrete to lead with when contacting or meeting a prospect for the first time.
2. What experience has the PR firm had in working for a financial professional?
Financial advice is not like Godiva chocolates. Financial advice is based on trust, not taste. Therefore, the firm you hire must have experience with other professional services firms. The value propositions so necessary to “sell” you are different than the value propositions for retail products sold in your community. And do not believe a PR firm that shows you successful PR campaigns that are not in the financial services industry.
The dilemma becomes one of time and dollars. If the PR firm you hire must do its research on your retainer fee dollars, you lose. Better to keep looking and find a firm that knows your industry language and jargon, and even understands what you do for your clients. Without that, messaging–the key points to send to the media–will be difficult for you and for your PR firm.