Cultivating and obtaining a good public image and a solid reputation in the press is important for any business, but is especially critical in the financial services industry. In finance, a strong public image can be a deciding factor between success and failure. Building a strong PR (public relations) presence by being interviewed on television, in a newspaper, or online can be essential for ETF issuers and other financial experts looking to expand their media footprint and bolster their credibility in the space—but just how does one become a “go-to” source for financial journalists, and what is required to break through the noise?
If you need a primer on this subject, be sure to read our Intro Guide to How Financial PR Works here.
It may seem obvious, even laughably so, but if your commentary and input isn’t useful to journalists, it is highly unlikely that they will quote you in their article, and even less likely that they will choose to reach out to you again in the future. Being useful to journalists means focusing on reporters’ needs, not your own. You may desire a feature article that delves into all of the selling points of your various investment products, as well as a glowing profile of your firm; unfortunately, such a desire rarely corresponds to the needs of a financial journalist. A financial journalist needs knowledgeable, competent, authoritative, reliable sources that can provide the insights the journalist requires to get their stories written in a timely manner.
Being useful to a reporter means providing information that they need. Be sure to hone up on the topic you’ll be discussing with a reporter ahead of the interview; there’s nothing more frustrating to a reporter than some variation on “I don’t know” in reply to a question. If you can’t provide the information they’re looking for, then why are they interviewing you at all? This doesn’t mean you should be afraid to admit if you don’t know the answer to a difficult question. In the event of encountering a question you don’t know the answer to, make a note of it and promise to get back to the reporter as soon as possible with your answer.
The best kinds of sources don’t just provide the information a reporter is looking for, they’re also opinionated, contrarian, and deliver their knowledge in a package that is eminently quotable and interesting. Leave the hedging, hemming, and hawing to less-memorable sources; your goal in an interview should be to inform and delight the reporter. Information that is common knowledge or that aligns closely with the established prevailing wisdom does not make headlines—if everyone already agrees, why would a reporter bother to quote it?
If you’re going to become a go-to source for a financial journalist, it’s not going to happen overnight, and it’s certainly not going to happen if you fail to open up to the reporter you’re speaking to. Loosen up! This doesn’t mean you need to drop a professional demeanor when speaking with a reporter, but it does mean that you should treat them as peers rather than as someone to be feared.
The Bottom Line
Becoming a go-to financial expert for a reporter doesn’t happen overnight. It requires patience, competence, and a commitment to providing memorable, interesting information on a regular basis. But with persistence, you can bridge the divide and become a reporter’s trusted, go-to source, which can help broaden your media footprint and, ultimately, help you increase assets under management.