Ask a financial professional to describe public relations, and you’ll probably get dozens of meanings.
The three most common definitions I hear are:
- Posting a press release on my website.
- Getting my name in a local newspaper.
- It’s free advertising.
These perceived definitions are not wrong per se; they just lack the essence of what public relations mean in today’s world. According to the Public Relations Society of America, “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”
Now that we’ve defined what public relations is, how can financial services companies do it and do it effectively?
A common frustration for financial service professionals when talking about public relations is they are typically unable to get a placement in an ideal publication. And, yes, even after compliance has signed off and it is good to go.
If your public relations strategy is to send out the exact same press release to any and all news organizations and outlets within a certain distance from your company’s home base every time you have a new product, service, award, or special announcement, you are wasting your time and resources as well as the time and resources of many of the recipients of those press releases. That approach is naïve and scattered.
The digital age has changed the media landscape and made it easier than ever to target your message to the people you want it to reach. However, you need to understand the media market (and the many niches within it) to do that.
Also, it would help if you thought about the needs of your readers when generating your message and your recipient list. Some people think you must have established relationships with the media to succeed in getting publicity. While this helps, it is just as important to generate stories that are interesting to readers of a specific paper, broadcast station, blog, and other social media venues.