The 3 Myths of PR: Dispelling the Misconceptions that are Holding You Back

Public Relations

There are a lot of myths and misconceptions surrounding PR, and it appears that many advisors have the same questions or concerns about moving forward with a public relations strategy in their businesses. They don’t fully understand what it is or the value working with the media can provide. However, if you’re serious about your success, it can be the single best thing you can do for your business! I’m not the only one who thinks this way; there are highly successful leaders and business owners who have a few things to say on the subject too:

“If I was down to my last dollar, I would spend it on public relations.” – Bill Gates

“Advertising is saying you’re good. PR is getting someone else to say you’re good.” – Jean-Louis Gassee

“Next to doing the right thing, the most important thing is to let people know you’re doing the right thing.” – John D. Rockefeller

“Publicity is absolutely critical. A good PR story is infinitely more effective than a front page ad.” – Richard Branson

So, why aren’t you taking advantage of this amazing, credibility-enhancing, visibility-producing, revenue-expediting marketing strategy? Like some others in the financial services industry, you may have convinced yourself it’s not for you based on misguided information. Let’s break down the three most common myths surrounding public relations.

#1 – The media has lost some of its credibility.

If you fall into this category, you’re referring to media that covers politics. Sure, there has been opinion-infused media coverage on politics in recent years, but you’re a financial advisor, not a political pundit. Financial media still covers just that—finance. And people still tune into financial news for insight on how current events can impact their personal financial situation. This type of media is not debating if they agree with the tax reform, as an example, they’re explaining how the tax reform will impact people’s paychecks and personal finance. This is where a knowledgeable financial resource can shine, both through national and local media! Changes to the economy, market, legislation, tax code and similar, and the calendar-based events surrounding personal finance require financial reporters to gather insight from financial professionals to educate their viewers, listeners, and readers. There is significant credibility in being sourced by outlets that are providing valuable information about personal finance to your potential clients.

Media is not going anywhere. Consumers will continue to get their news from news sources that, in turn, will continue to get their insight from experts. And even if you don’t always like the conversation, you can’t do anything to change it if you’re sitting on the sidelines.

#2 – I can buy media coverage.

You cannot buy your way into legitimate media coverage. If you “buy” space, it’s called advertising, and if your ad is positioned as an article, it’s called an advertorial. The TV equivalent to this is an infomercial. This is not “earned” PR. Just as every infomercial comes with the disclaimer “The following is a paid commercial advertisement. The views and opinions expressed within do not reflect the opinions of the station” or some similar iteration, every advertorial comes with a disclaimer, too. Typically, the term or phrase “advertorial”, “special advertising,” “special promotion” or “sponsored by” will be embedded at the top of the page, and a disclaimer such as “This content was written by and presents the views of NAME, and not the OUTLET editorial staff” will be included as well. It doesn’t take that savvy of a consumer to recognize this is advertising and not editorial.

If you try to pass off your infomercial or advertorial as a “feature” in the media, this can do more damage to your credibility and reputation than good. Don’t be fooled into thinking advertising is PR, and worse, don’t try to fool your clients. The regulatory environment is changing. Be cognizant of the repercussions that could arise if you attempt to pass off a paid-for advertorial as you being “featured” in the news.

#3 – There’s no quantifiable ROI in PR.

This statement blows me away. This is like saying there is no quantifiable ROI in having a physical office to meet clients, or the specialized training and education to advise in their best interest. These are foundational investments and necessary to reach your full potential. PR is the foundation that enables all other marketing activities to reach their full potential. It works to build your brand by establishing credibility. The media has vetted you and confirmed you’re an expert who can provide value! It builds your visibility. You get the exposure the day the media placement runs as well as a lasting archive that lives indefinitely on the web as every PR placement has a digital component. If you don’t think your prospects are Googling your name prior to taking the first steps with you, you’re wrong.

Additionally, earned PR can be leveraged over and over again through all of your marketing communications – as seen in, has appeared on, featured by…on your website, bios, social media, mailers…it goes on. The sheer fact that you’ve participated in these opportunities could be enough for a referral, the viewer of your ad, the receiver of your mailer, the listener of your radio show to actually take action!

While I wouldn’t call PR a lead generation tool as much as a branding tool, there can still be leads that directly arise from your PR results.  I’ve had dozens of advisors who have earned millions upon millions in new business just purely on PR itself. Countless others who have continuously worked with the media and leveraged their successes and have seen their businesses grow exponentially year-over-year. PR is the secret sauce behind the success of all other marketing that you’re doing. But you must participate to benefit.

Take a moment to truly understand what public relations is and what it can do for you. If Bill Gates and Richard Branson consider it a critical part of their success, maybe you should too?

Contact us if you have any questions or any other myths you need help in dispelling.

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