What Sets Financial PR Apart from Consumer Lifestyle PR?
Many people’s notion of the responsibilities of a public relations specialist is heavily skewed by Samantha Jones’ portrayal of a PR maven on Sex and the City and Shauna Roberts’ role as a pithy publicist on Entourage. Although Hollywood’s glamourized depiction of this profession is embedded in some truth within the realm of consumer lifestyle or entertainment PR, a financial public relations specialist plays an entirely different role.
“Thought Leadership,” Not Traditional “Publicity”
In terms of garnering publicity, financial PR differs staunchly from consumer lifestyle. A broker or FinTech client is not necessarily hungry to get their product photographed in a Kardashian’s arms at a party, while that same celebrity’s endorsement would be a boon to a consumer product. Instead, financial PR professionals hunt for opportunities to portray their clients as thought leaders by strategically placing op-eds, producing and promoting insightful research, leveraging topical speaking appearances, and securing prominent roles for their clients at conferences and industry events.
Understanding the Product
Grasping exactly what clients do and the spaces they occupy within the market is essential for representing their interests in the media for any type of PR. However, as you’ll know if you have ever seen someone’s eyes glaze over during an explanation of the blockchain, certain facets of financial markets can be exceptionally complex and arcane. A financial communications specialist must carefully refine brand and product messaging to find the greatest opportunities for clients to provide perspective on larger industry trends while ensuring that they are presenting these challenging concepts in an intelligible way to journalists and their general business and finance audience.
Media Relations Modus Operandi
Consumer lifestyle and financial PR professionals need to approach media relations from different angles. Obtaining a feature in a perfectly suited trade publication or a mention in The Wall Street Journal is the ‘paragon’ of success for a financial client, while scoring a placement on Page Six of The New York Post or in the beauty guides of Glamour holds significantly more meaning for a consumer lifestyle company. In addition, when approaching journalists, a consumer lifestyle specialist can take an edgy technique, tying in their new product to a celebrity or piggybacking on a recent scandal. A financial PR specialist will provide substance to their pitch through different methods, such as tying their client’s solution into top economic trends or demonstrating their impact on the industry.
Often for consumer lifestyle firms, there is some leeway to push boundaries for a juicy headline. On the other hand, in the financial sector — where one poorly chosen word could have a world of consequences — there is no room for mistakes. To comply with industry regulation, many of Paragon’s clients have strict legal specifications for what they can and cannot say or do. As such, Paragon must understand and respect these standards to ensure compliance in every aspect of clients’ communications.
Both financial and consumer lifestyle PR present their own fascinating and complex challenges, but understanding the variances between the two can help both the public relations specialist and client achieve the most from their partnership.
– Rachel Weber, Contributor and Intern at Paragon