Some of the Best Advertising Comes Free
NBC anchor Brian Williams recently reported in a story about the Westminster Dog Show that the Best in Show prize went to a toy poodle named Clarice. What Williams so skillfully and without condescension did for toy poodles that evening rivals most public relations (PR) efforts. An endorsement from Brian Williams in any capacity (and on behalf of any species) is a coup. By strict definition, public relations means to seek the endorsement of the news media for the purpose of inﬂuencing consumers’ perceptions and biases. In practice, relating to your public involves sustaining a conversation with an often-unpredictable audience through the media in its many forms and ensuring that the intermediary is getting your message right. Unfortunately it is unlikely that a newsman so skilled as Mr. Williams will be that intermediary.
A successful investment manager cum PR tactician gets the news media to write articles or televise segments that feature him and his business. Whereas well-practiced PR can result in news coverage that includes you, PR best practices result in coverage that is specifically and solely about you and your ﬁrm. What’s important to note is that press is being generated with or without your best efforts to influence its outcome; better to use it to your advantage to help shape and enhance your reputation than to leave it to chance that an unattended PR machine will show you in your best light.
People need to feel conﬁdent in the ﬁrm managing their assets. Moreover, people need to like you. In this context, PR is vital to successful marketing communications initiatives because it can help establish and cement personal relationships with new and current clients.
Most understand that reputation is critical to relationships. A well-executed public relations campaign does not simply put your name in front of people, it builds and reinforces your reputation. E.g., if your remarks about a change in the capital gains tax are quoted in a local newspaper article, in the minds of readers you’re an expert. Better yet, if you’re remarks are televised on the five o’ clock news, you’ve achieved the near equivalent to a personal reference from the anchor.
The Media Needs You
Won’t You Please Help?
Inasmuch as members of the media are not, for the greater part, political pundits, electronics engineers, or cultural anthropologists, they are not investment experts. They rely on your colleagues’ and your own expertise for concepts, content, and credentials. As such, there is always real estate on the financial page waiting to be occupied by articulate Investment Managers who can add some context to a news story. The context you provide can be something as straightforward as a local perspective on a national trend or how a regional economic issue is affecting trends among investors nationally. Take the lead and pitch your ideas, chances are good they’ll make their way into the news stream.
The Advantage of an Independent Perspective
As an independent agent, you are even more attractive to reporters. Your perspective as an independent is one that is free of bias—i.e., you’re not promoting stocks that you’ve underwritten. Your independence enhances the value of your opinions and makes you an advocate for the independent, fee-compensated model. In fact, a core component of all your PR efforts should be educating the media on the benefits of working with an Independent Investment Manager. It’s a way you can be a resource for any reporter on any given financial topic and, at the same time, sell the merits of working with an IM.