Today’s financial markets operate at lightning speeds and are constantly monitored by regulators and compliance organizations to ensure there is a level playing field for all participants. Participants must ensure their operations are organized and buttoned-up, particularly their messaging and their brand image. With that in mind, managing public relations for firms in this sector – whether asset managers, fintech vendors, or tier-one banks – is no small task and requires a specific set of expertise, tools and strategies. Here are five tips that will help you successfully manage your client’s expectations and become a more well-rounded communications professional.
Many will debate the importance of waking up early and counter that several entrepreneurs, such as Jeff Bezos, prefer to sleep in. However, waking up early allows you to get a head start on the day’s news and any developing trends that may be relevant to your clients. If you’re in New York, this is even more important because major financial centers in Asia and Europe are anywhere from five to twelve hours ahead.
TIP: Put your alarm clock across the room where you’re sleeping. This way you have to get out of bed to turn it off. At that point, you’re up and can get your day started whether it’s heading to the gym, having breakfast or catching up on overnight emails.
In PR, time is your most important commodity so it’s essential to manage your days, weeks and even months efficiently. Figure out what tasks are more time-sensitive and prioritize them accordingly. As a communications professional, it is inevitable that other tasks will arise throughout the day, but it’s imperative that you prioritize your tasks at the outset of each day and as it progresses. Immediate client deliverables will always take precedence over any longer-term projects but if you set deadlines for everything, your schedule becomes far more manageable.
TIP: Use your calendar to mark off 30-minute or one-hour time slots to complete certain tasks and stick to those time frames. If you’re unable to finish something within your allotted time, move the calendar reminder to later in the week when you have some free time. Here’s a template that we use at Paragon to support our project / time management that you may find useful.
As PR professionals, we’re charged with coming up with unique ideas that positively impact and drive results for our clients’ business. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and let your creative juices flow. In the financial services industry, firms can sometimes be handcuffed by regulatory and compliance parameters, but clients always appreciate ideas that help them generate new leads. An easy approach to this method is piggybacking off an idea that was presented to another client and was turned down due to internal constraints, and repurposing the concept that takes an alternative approach. Creativity is the most common shortcoming for many agencies and sometimes all it takes is one great idea to ‘wow’ your client.
TIP: Host a brainstorm session with members outside the account team. We do this often at Paragon and some of the best ideas come from individuals who have an outside perspective on a client’s business.
You can never have too many contacts when working in public relations and I’m not just referring to journalist relationships. PR professionals, regardless of the industry they are in, thrive on the power of their ecosystem and the ability to continuously grow that network. This approach not only leads to better and more fluid press coverage and relationships for your clients, but it could also lead to new business leads and perhaps even personal opportunities that may come to fruition later in your career. If you’re working in New York or Los Angeles, these are hotbeds for communications professionals and journalists. Take advantage of the many networking events, industry conferences and educational seminars available. You may also gather some useful tips along the way.
TIP: Set a goal for yourself to attend at least one event per quarter. As you attend more events and build-up your network, you may even be invited to exclusive events which could ultimately lead to fantastic opportunities for your agency and clients.
I can’t stress how important it is to read as much as you possibly can. By reading on a regular basis, you’re not only educating yourself – you’re also improving your vocabulary and writing skills. While it’s important to stay up-to-date on industry news and topics that are pertinent to your clients, don’t hesitate to indulge in personal reading during your free time. Personally, I spend a good amount of time each day reading about regulatory developments in capital markets and the latest trends in financial technology, but outside of work, I love reading about world history. Digest as much as you can – whenever you can – because you never know when little tidbits may be useful in the future.
TIP: Get to work a few minutes earlier than everyone else so you have extra time to read the top news stories for the day. This could give you a heads-up on something that others haven’t picked up yet. If you’re a public transportation commuter, use the time to and from work as your personal reading period.
In PR, everyone has a different set of tools, strategies and approaches that work effectively for them. These five tips have helped me stay on top of my priorities as an experienced fintech and financial services PR professional. However, waking up a 5am each day may not work as well for some folks! Some like to work in “organized chaos” while others must have an orderly and shipshape workspace. Hopefully, some of these tips help you succeed in your PR career but the most important takeaway is to find an approach that makes you most effective and always seek ways to improve.
Do you have PR tips or approaches from your experiences working in financial services and capital markets? Feel free to share in the comments below.