The Who, What, When, Where and Why of Public Relations
Public Relations efforts may seem like a daunting and confusing task. But in reality, it’s not as complicated as one might imagine. And it’s a great way to receive name recognition and earn credibility among your target prospects. Below are the PR basics for financial services professionals; the who, what, when, where and why for PR… create brand recognition with your target prospects through the process called Public Relations.
WHO: Who benefits from public relations efforts? The truth of the matter is, everyone does! The media benefits because they have an expert resource to help them with developing a comprehensive story that their audience will pay attention to and learn from.
The public benefits, because as they are learning as they are reading a story, hearing a radio program or seeing a news segment on financial topics such as how they can be better prepared for retirement, tips on sending their children to college, how to reduce taxes, etc. And the advisor benefits, not only by being able to share his knowledge and expertise to help others, but his name is associated with positive, credible news stories, and many times results in being referred to as the “local expert” in the financial services industry, gaining instant recognition and credibility.
WHAT: What is Public Relations, aka PR? PR is the process of getting your message told to the public through the media. What message? There are several different ways one can obtain media coverage. You can contact the media with a story about your firm. You can get listings in your local paper’s “people in business” columns. Or you can become a resource to the media, as an expert that the media can turn to for advice and explanations about national news stories and how it affects your local community.
WHEN: When do you contact the media? When you have a story to tell. Have you achieved any recognition from the community or industry lately? Have you earned a new designation or been accepted into a membership group lately? Has your firm helped with funding a large donation to a local or national charity? Create a media release and distribute to your target media. These types of stories are considered “soft news” (a human interest story) and may be used immediately or may be held on to for a slower news time.
When else should you contact your media? When you want to be considered an expert. Send a media advisory out to your targeted media when a national news phenomenon is prevalent, and explain how it affects your local community. This is referred to as “hard news” and is very time sensitive. “Hard news” examples can be “How those affected from corporate downsizing can protect their retirement benefits”, or “The economic affect of illegal immigration in your town.” Provide the media a brief background on the current subject matter and an overview on what type of information you can provide them, i.e. how one should handle their 401k rollover so they don’t pay excessive taxes or penalties. And lastly, let the media know how they can reach you.
WHERE: Where do you distribute your media campaigns? There are different media targets for different stories. Your “soft news” campaign should go to both feature writers that cover the subject, either business or community reporters, and the managing editors of that section. Your business listing announcements need to go to the managing editor of the business listings section. Your “hard news” releases should go to the reporter that covers that subject, the program director and/or news director at your local news programs and the radio stations who’s station format is one that airs news.
WHY: Why public relations? Gain instant credibility and recognition among your target clients. Public relations can help you separate yourself from others in the competitive financial services industry. Now, more than ever, the media needs your expertise, so reach out and connect with your media and become the “authority” on financial topics.
Don’t forget to leverage your media placements. The day your story runs in a local paper or magazine, gather as many original copies as you can. You never know when these might be useful down-the-line. Also, get reprints. Use these reprints for marketing. Give your prospective clients information about your media success and gain their trust and respect immediately.
When in doubt, call in the experts. If you have an intricate media campaign that you know warrants media attention, don’t get overwhelmed with the process, get assistance! Media placements should not be an intimidating venture; however there is a science to it. Be sure your message applies to the recipient. It’s much like advertising. You can have the best advertisement in the world, but if your target prospects don’t see it, it will have little influence. Be proactive with media relationships. Become acquainted before you need them. It will help your efforts in the long-run.