Building a financial service brand? Don’t blow the visibility challenge

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Don’t fool yourself. If you are a financial services firm looking to launch a new product, galvanize growth, or increase enterprise value by building your brand, there is one thing that cannot be replaced or replicated in an increasingly commoditized world: visibility achieved by real, credible, earned media coverage.

According to Gartner’s research, the financial services industry has budgeted more than 10 percent of its annual revenue toward marketing. At the same time, First Research, Inc. reports that the U.S. public relations industry accounted for more than $11 billion in annual revenue in 2013, up from $4 billion in 2003, as the demand for visibility soars. It’s obvious that even for brands in the position of dominance, achieving visibility with consistency can make or break a new product or new business line.

Over the last decade, more than 200 financial services industry firms have engaged us to generate the media coverage of their businesses, products, and services to support their growth objectives. From start-ups to industry powerhouses, we have generated thousands of television interview opportunities for our clients. The truth is that there are no guarantees that you will get a second chance to tell your story. Years of relationship development and storytelling experience as well as hours of strategy and idea generation sessions can all go to waste if the interviewee “fails” the interview.

So, before you blow your chance to make an impression, consider these four tips to maximize your return on time invested.

  1. You are not making a commercial, you are building an image. The challenge for financial services firms comes down to expressing enough about who you are and what your firm does within the confines of the limited airtime or column inches that a network or journalist has to work with. Very often, YOU are not the news but an expert asked to reflect on something newsy or topical. Forget that and the success of the interview and the prospect for future interviews is in jeopardy.
  2. “All they want is a sound bite” and that’s OK. For some industry experts, there is an expressed frustration that the interviewing media is not interested in their story but are simply after a quote. Fear not, opportunity still abounds. Take time to understand what the reporter is writing about and seeking to gain from your interview. Equip yourself with facts and statistics that will support your comments. Not only will this increase your chances of being included in the piece, it will also increase the likelihood that the reporter utilizes you as a resource for future articles.
  3. Know your audience. As in any public speaking situation, the golden rule — know your audience — still applies. First, know the audience that the publication you are speaking to is targeting. Do industry peers read the periodical or is it a consumer-facing outlet? Tailor your message accordingly. From there, identify the particular segment of audience you want to reach with your statements.
  4. Back up your insights with passion and energy. Some presume that energy and enthusiasm during interviews are reserved for live broadcasts on radio and TV, but they fail to realize the impact that passion can have in expressing points during interviews with journalists preparing an article. What better way to emphasize your message and make an impression by delivering your comments with emphatic “verbal underlining.”

Follow the above advice and you’ll be 75 percent of the way there when the article is published and you are featured throughout and positioned in the fashion you had visualized. But, that’s not the end. Share the coverage you achieved on your social networks to ensure that your clients, colleagues, etc. see the media attention you achieved. Do not forget the old fashioned ways to showcase content — your website and collateral materials.

Consider the tips above and be both strategic and thoughtful to make yourself a better spokesperson and to ensure you did everything you could to maximize the outcome.