It's August and vacation season. Virtually everyone is dreaming of time off. But this month is a great opportunity for financial advisors to garner some media exposure.
Many people are away from the office, which means there's a diminished pool of sources for writers, editors and television anchors to interview. Your chances have just gone up greatly for getting into print and appearing on TV. There are specific steps you can use to take advantage of the dog days of summer and gain name recognition, visibility, credibility and expert status to attract new business.
Has your business grown in size or assets in the last few years despite the market downturns? Local press in your area would love to know about this feel-good story. Invite reporters from your local daily and weekly community newspapers to come in and see for themselves. Take them on a tour of the company and show how you've added staff or increased assets under management.
Too often, advisors bypass their local media in hopes of gaining national press, when, in reality, most of their business is local. Write a news release about your business that can be published as a news item. Include quotes from the head of the company and pictures. Send them all by email.
Do you have a strong opinion about certain investments or the direction of markets here or abroad? Do you have supporting data and charts to back up your assertions? Take the initiative and voice your opinion by writing a letter to the editor in the media read by your clients. This sets you up as a thought leader and expert, building your credibility with your target audience. We did this recently with one of our clients who thinks of gold as not an investment, but as a store of value. His opinion was printed in the viewpoints section of an industry publication that reaches the financial industry — one of his target audiences.
A bylined article may offer you more space to voice your opinion on a given topic of importance to you. Send an email to the editor proposing a guest column that you will write on the topic. These usually are not very long, but longer than letters, maybe 800 words. Have a high-resolution headshot photo on hand to send with the completed article. The email should give your credentials and brief bullet points of what topics the bylined article will cover. Be sure to spell-check and proofread it and send it prior to the deadline given by the editor.
Here's a tip for finding out which stories magazines will be covering over the next 12 months and how to pick a topic to write about that is already being planned. Go to their editorial calendars online. Most magazines post them on their websites, often under the advertising section as part of their media kit. This gives you an edge months in advance in knowing what stories they are covering. If there is a topic you feel strongly about or are an expert on, why not contact the editor and offer to be a source or write a column on the topic? Reach out to the editor several months beforehand, because the lead time is usually that far out for monthly publications.
Weekly and dailies, of course, have much shorter time frames for stories, so contact them immediately if there is a story in the news you can talk about. This is a smart way to get some ink without having to write or think of a news hook. Offer to be interviewed. Another solid way to break into print is to be a source for a blog. You should definitely think about taking advantage of this new media.
If you've already been quoted, or have written the letter or column for a publication read by your target audience, and you are wondering what to do with the articles now, merchandise them as much as possible. Get reprints to post to your website and send them to existing clients as referral tools that they can give to their friends, family or business associates and to your prospect list. It's a good way to be in touch without directly asking for anything. It also becomes an educational tool that you can use and a reason to be following up with your prospect list.
Another valuable use for articles that include you is to get a foot in the door with television guest bookers and producers, particularly if you have not been a guest on TV. Those articles allow you to demonstrate your expertise and show that you understand what the media wants. Channels like CNBC have arrangements with local studios to do remote interviews, which means you don't have to go to northern New Jersey, which is where the network is located, to be a guest. You can do it from a studio near your office or home.
If you don't have the time or the inclination to write a letter or column, but feel strongly about an issue in the news and would like to get some exposure in the media, offer yourself to a reporter for a one-on-one interview. Again provide your background, website and bio to the reporter or editor and send along bullet points on where you stand on a given news item.
Your chances are better at getting on financial TV stations, such as CNBC, in August when fewer sources are around to be guests. Typically, CNBC has a $100 million in assets under management minimum to be a guest, but there is a segment called Financial Advisor Network, where they have advisor guests and the minimum does not apply. Fox Business TV prefers guests to have $500 million assets under management as a minimum and that he or she should be able to discuss stock picks.
However, there are exceptions to the minimum rule, since August is a month when it may be hard to find those types of guests.
There are other holidays throughout the year that can become launch pads for your media exposure as well. So, while others in the financial industry are off on vacation, take advantage of more media opportunities available to find the publications and TV shows that reach your target clients and may result in your attracting more assets to your business.
Bill Bongiorno is president of Blue Chip Public Relations, Inc.,
a firm that specializes in media placement for financial companies.