Have you ever read a news story and spotted fellow financial advisors providing their expert advice? How did they become trusted sources? Better yet, have you gotten a call from a local reporter looking for insight, but then wondered whether you were “quote ready?”
First, understand that reporters are stretched very thin and are often responsible for writing not only articles, but blogs, social media updates and more. It’s a 24/7 news cycle that is instantaneous, immediate and viral. Reporters are looking for sources who can provide timely information that is in step with current trends — and is relevant to their audiences.
The best way to reach out to a reporter is by email. First, make sure you are very familiar with a reporter’s “beat” or area of focus. Search the reporter’s past stories for background and perspectives. If you have an idea for a personal finance story, don’t send it to the reporter who covers real estate; send that reporter an interesting idea on how the recent housing boom is affecting people’s savings accounts. If you belong to the local chapter of a financial professional organization, such as the Financial Planning Association, look into getting your name on its media resources list, which connects advisors to reporters.
Don’t overwhelm a reporter with constant emails. Start with a short introductory note that explains your background and credentials, your connection to the community and how you might be able to help them: “If you need unique ideas about new ways people are saving for their children’s college education…or the top questions I’m asked by new clients…or what to look for to see if you are ready to hire a financial advisor,” etc. If you cater to a specialty clientele such as military families, millennials or older people, mention that as well.
Reporters also like one-stop shopping so if you have other resources you can tap into and connect them to, such as business partners or academic experts, let them know. Just a few short bullet points and they have a potential trove of future story ideas and sources.
You’ve laid the groundwork, and now a reporter wants to talk to you directly. Prepare as you would for a new client interview:
- Do your homework ahead of the meeting and know your client’s — aka the reporter’s — needs.
- Be knowledgeable — guide and explain when needed. Speak in a simple, straightforward manner and avoid jargon and acronyms. Be succinct in your answers and don’t ramble.
- While you won’t be able to discuss your clients by name or specifics, you may be able to use general descriptions and examples; reporters appreciate it when you are able to humanize a situation.
- Follow up if the reporter needs additional information, experts or statistics. However, don’t pester them asking when the story will run — just keep an eye out yourself.
When appropriate, you can link to stories that mention you in a news section on your website or newsletter, but make sure you follow the rules for proper attribution. Recognition will come naturally, and you are more likely to develop a long-term relationship if you don’t give the reporter the impression you are always trying to sell something.
If you approach an interview as an opportunity to educate, rather than a chance for personal publicity, it will be more beneficial to all involved.