Our Crystal Ball: 4 trends guaranteed to impact financial services PR in 2016

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Every winter season brings another round of resolutions for the New Year. In the PR world, the resetting of calendars provides agencies representing financial services firms with an opportunity to reevaluate their communications strategies.

PR strategies capitalized on a slew of different trends in 2015 varying from the growing presence of robo advisors to regulatory developments concerning the extension of the fiduciary standard. 2016, however, will undoubtedly come with a fresh set of challenges and opportunities for communications firms to reenergize their approach. To be successful, it is important to identify the forces shaping the financial services landscape and use them to your advantage.

As we’ve discussed in this blog before, now is the time for financial services PR firms to think ahead and position themselves to better communicate their clients’ stories to the media and broader industry audiences.

The Gregory FCA financial services team leaders put their heads together to identify several areas of opportunity slated to emerge in the upcoming year and suggestions as to how to manage a successful PR campaign in 2016.

  1. Fine tuning your social media strategy: Social media adoption has skyrocketed throughout the financial services industry. For years now, RIAs have been utilizing social media strategies to better communicate with current clients and connect with potential new ones. It also helps advisors stay in touch with their industry while providing a platform to demonstrate thought leadership and increase overall awareness of the firm.However, merely signing up for Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook isn’t enough to add meaningful value to a PR campaign. Financial services companies and their public relations representation must tailor their strategies by placing a varying emphasis on each specific social media platform. For example, institutional investors and other business-to-business firms will receive limited benefit from a Facebook presence. However, LinkedIn offers a very effective platform for demonstrating thought leadership to relevant audiences within their industry. Similarly, a post to Twitter, which is flooded with content throughout each day, might not pack as much punch as a post to more stagnant outlets like Facebook or LinkedIn. Twitter requires additional monitoring and frequent posting to ensure your content is reaching the desired audience. Similarly, you would never double-post to Instagram or LinkedIn. Familiarize yourself with the intricacies of each platform and cater your strategy accordingly. As a PR firm, revisit your social media strategy to make sure your content, and how you promote it, hasn’t gone stale. Read posts and follow others within the industry to ensure your social presence is evolving at a breakneck pace.
  1. Infiltrating industry “influencers”: Non-journalist members of the media carry weight in the financial services industry more than ever. The evolution of social media has allowed industry experts to build followings stronger and with wider reaches than many publications. CFPs Michael Kitces and Bill Winterberg are both great examples. The two have tens of thousands of Twitter followers and subscribers to their research, blogs and YouTube video channels. “Influencers” like Winterberg and Kitces seamlessly blast a wide range of content to a massive audience of financial journalists and money-managing professionals. They constantly interact with viewers and are masters of building and demonstrating thought leadership on social media. Many viewers get their news from these guys and care deeply about what they have to say. Also, influencers are always looking for fresh content and constantly share other bloggers’ posts. Interact with them and build a relationship to get on their radar. Getting a share from a prominent “influencer” on social media will open up your exposure to a whole new demographic of your targeted audience.
  1. Trumping election coverage: Media coverage of the 2016 presidential election has thus far been unprecedented. The explosion of coverage, mostly thanks to Donald Trump, creates an enormous opportunity for PR professionals to integrate their clients’ stories into the news cycle. Big-name publications like Bloomberg, Politico and CNN are beefing up their newsrooms with additional reporters and editors to accommodate additional election coverage needs. While headlines documenting feuds between candidates may appear to garner most of the attention, business outlets are still very tuned in to how each candidate will impact different industries and the overall economy. As the election nears, discuss with clients where they fall on varying issues like the extension of the DOL’s fiduciary standard and changes to tax or Social Security laws. Figure out which matters they feel passionately about and whether they are comfortable discussing their opinions with the media. It is normally unwise for a financial professional to go as far as endorsing a candidate, but NewsHacking your way into election coverage can demonstrate thought leadership, gain exposure and heighten awareness of the firm.
  1. Contributing as a contributor: Take your clients’ visibility to the next level by placing them in the media as contributors. More news outlets are opening up to the idea of submitted bylined articles written by financial services professionals. Placing your clients’ name underneath the headline demonstrates respected thought leadership and boosts their credibility to investors and journalists. Also, many outlets feature recurring contributions from the same author. Joe Duran, CEO of Gregory FCA client United Capital, offers his perspective on issues facing the RIA industry on a biweekly basis to InvestmentNews’ thousands of viewers. Duran’s posts garner hundreds of shares on social media and provide the client with exposure to an entirely new audience within the industry. PR professionals need to proactively build relationships with journalists to secure contributor placements and encourage clients to participate in recurring contributor opportunities before a competing firm fills the open spot.

In terms of what else 2016 will have in store, that’s anybody’s guess. But successfully navigating the four trends outlined above will be essential to any successful financial services PR campaign in 2016. The crystal ball never lies.