4 bad PR habits your financial services firm needs to break now

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You can see it now. You’re on the cover of The New York Times. You’re wanted for tomorrow’s special CNBC program. The phones are ringing off the hook from reporters who want your take on the latest industry news.

It’s not a far-fetched dream, but it takes work to get there. If you want to build an impressive media presence and earn credibility, there are some critical media relations habits you should forego now. So, before you dive into media relations headfirst, review these four media snafus and make sure you’re getting the most out of your public relations efforts.

1. Not doing your homework. Preparation is key to success when it comes to working with the media and having your voice heard. Know as much as possible beforehand about the publication, the reporter and the article focus, but always keep in mind the golden rule of media: If you don’t want to see it in print, don’t say it. Whether it’s a print interview or a broadcast segment, proper preparation is necessary in order to feel confident that you’re delivering what the reporter needs, while staying within the bounds of accepted company messaging.

This also applies to crisis communications. If a crisis strikes tomorrow, will you know what to do? If the answer is no, it’s time to get a plan in place. Follow these three critical steps to ensure you’re prepared to weather a worst-case scenario.

On the flip side…

2. Not helping reporters do their homework. While it might be inconvenient to spend more time than you originally allotted on the phone with a reporter, do not blow them off. Spend time teaching them about why your news is important and what it means for the industry. Help them connect the dots so that they can tell the story as clearly as possible. By educating a new reporter or someone who recently switched beats on a topic they may not be familiar with, you’re establishing the foundation of a sturdy relationship that will have staying power. They’ll remember you being helpful and come back to you for more next time they need to tap a valuable resource.

3. Being closed-minded. While some media opportunities may not be the home run you seek, singles and doubles can add up quickly. Don’t dismiss media opportunities that allow you to comment on timely trends just because they may not be the shining cover story you envisioned. Media begets media, and the more stories you have a voice in, the more likely you are to be recognized as a subject matter expert. More reporters will be knocking at your doorstep in due time, but overlooking the little guys is not the way to success.

4. Waiting for the magic to happen. However, don’t just wait for reporters to come calling. Of course, reactive media opportunities are excellent opportunities to take advantage of, but taking matters into your own hands and proactively engaging with the media on evergreen topics that are important to your client-base can make all the difference when telling the story you want to tell. Proactive engagement is when the magic happens. Be sure to let friendly reporters know of big news you have around the corner in order to give them time to build out a well-rounded story. Plan your PR strategy, utilize the editorial calendars of key outlets, and leverage pre-existing content to tell your story proactively.

Remember, good media relations take time and energy to refine, but being aware of these common PR pitfalls can help you build thriving relationships and approach media with a fresh mindset. Who knows, maybe that cover story isn’t too far-fetched after all.