The Shifting Significance of the Press Release in Financial Marketing

Whether we realize it or not, brand image is becoming one of the most important components of a business. Not only is the workplace shifting to digitization, so is our society. We are now connected with people all over the world at the click of a button from a device that fits in our pocket. It is easier than ever for someone to start a business and build an online presence.

So, what is behind this shift in business ideology? Tech and consumer companies have world-class brand status simply by being public relations and marketing machines. Meanwhile financial firms are working overtime just to catch up. This all starts with having a robust public relations plan to build a foundation for your presence.

“80% of business decision-makers prefer to get company information in a series of articles versus an advertisement.”

Press releases have always been important but often overlooked. PR plays a key role in indirectly enhancing your business development efforts. As the media landscape continues to transform, PR is more important than ever. Just a few years ago, press releases were distributed in hopes of being mentioned in a newspaper, magazine, website or on television. If your release got picked up, it would be distributed in a publication for a period of time likely never to be seen again. Your news would only be available to a niche audience that would often be specific to your industry which wouldn’t expand your reach.

Even though print publications still hold weight, our 24-hour news cycle is now driving the internet and how we consume the news. Press releases and articles are gaining traction in online distribution. Your quote in a Crain’s Chicago Business article or press release announcing a major multi-million-dollar deal can be shared with hundreds of people immediately or better yet, go viral.

How does this all come together? Let’s say your team recently closed a multi-million-dollar deal for a Fortune 100 client. Getting the word out is crucial to future business opportunities so you engage with a PR specialist. After discussing the key facts of the deal you send the press release to the client for distribution approval. Once approved, your PR rep does the heavy lifting to ensure your name gets proper media placement. This typically requires emailing journalists and adding the release on PRNewswire.com to get picked up by additional outlets. Timely stories like this are likely turned around in a couple days. The reason for this is because since news has become so immediate and saturated, you want to tell the story quickly.

Once your story gets picked up by a journalist, it’s ready to be published – most likely online. This is great because online articles provide endless opportunities to spread your announcement to different audiences.

A few things you can do to get the most bang for your buck are:

1.) Social Media: Share your story by posting a status on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. In the case of financial firms, LinkedIn is the most valuable social platform. By sharing your story in a status, you are pushing news directly to your prime audience – clients and potential clients. If one person in your LinkedIn network engages with your post, your reach expands even more. It’s simple and requires just two minutes of your time. For context, 97% of Fortune 500 companies are active on LinkedIn as of 2016.

2.) Newsletters: Yes, we all struggle with clogged inboxes. However, sending a quarterly newsletter to your contact list means you would only send emails about four times per year. The goal is to provide value to your readers. Compile your most popular news stories for the quarter and send it to your audience in a clean-designed email template. Even adding a personal note to some prospects will go a long way in starting a conversation.

3.) Website and/or blog: Press is the easiest way to update your website. Sometimes it’s difficult to come up with content so monthly press updates keep your page refreshed that make viewers want to come back.

4.) Search Engine Optimization: All of the points described above contribute to SEO. Appearing in the press helps get your name to the top of search engines like Google faster. While it doesn’t happen right away, the more clicks and traffic going to your articles, the more likely you will appear as the number one search result. This tactic provides a competitive advantage over your clients.

“The first position on Google search results on desktop has a 34.36% click through rate.” (Advanced Web Ranking, 2015)

Press releases are also a medium for your team to be considered thought leaders in the industry. Journalists frequently look for experts in the field and it’s important your company establishes itself as the go-to resource for anything financial related. It all comes down to this – the more often you appear in the press, the more likely you will receive additional opportunities to speak therefore increasing your profile. Thought leadership content is one of the most popular marketing trends in 2017, keeping your name in the press keeps you ahead of the curve.

While most of your news is probably important, we all have to draw the line somewhere. A key rule is to tell it all and tell it fast. A deal your firm completed a few days ago is newsworthy. However, if that transaction happened a month ago, it is not likely to be picked up by the media. You also probably don’t want to alert the press with every deal you make. Create an internal rule to only contact the press if the transaction reaches a certain dollar threshold.

To wrap everything up, press releases are not just an afterthought anymore. Appearing in the press can drive your business and maintain your status in the market. How we communicate and consume news is changing rapidly. Ignoring the trend is essentially setting your business up for failure. Without press, you wouldn’t have a brand. And without a brand, your client pool would be limited.