We are delighted to have Joy Macknight as our latest virtual guest in our Five Questions series of interviews, in which we talk to senior women in FinTech, RegTech and financial markets about their experiences in the current climate and the challenges to their business. Joy shares some advice on what to do and what NOT to do in PR, as well as some interesting insights into the challenges of AI in financial markets and the media industries.
Joy Macknight is editor at The Banker, part of the Financial Times. Previously, she was features editor at Profit & Loss, editorial director at Treasury Today and editor at gtnews. She also worked as staff writer on Banking Technology.
What do you think are the main challenges facing financial markets and technology providers in the markets at the moment?
At the 3000ft level, there is a lot of frenetic activity in the financial markets, with rising concerns over a stock market bubble and potential market correction on the horizon.
The wholesale shift to working from home, which has accelerated the digital transformation across all functions, brings with it both security and compliance challenges. Many institutions are looking to deploy emerging technology like AI and machine learning, but some are struggling with where such tech can be deployed to the greatest effect and also having the right skillset internally to take full advantage of what it can offer.
For technology providers to the markets, there is a lot of noise and competition in the market from new entrants, which makes it difficult to differentiate from competitors. There also seems to be a threat looming on the horizon around greater regulatory oversight in the fintech space, which will mean additional compliance costs that they might not have projected for in their business model.
What are the main challenges facing journalists and media outlets in the current work-from-home environment? Have your working practices had to change as a result of working from home? If so, how?
I think the biggest challenges that everyone is facing, media and beyond, is around creativity and the cross-fertilisation of ideas that happen organically in an office environment. We have editorial meetings every week on Google Meet, but it’s just not the same as floating ideas in a collective physical space.
The Banker’s editorial team is used to travelling a lot, especially the regional editors who regularly visit their region. So on the one hand, we were already working remotely quite often and didn’t see each other for long stretches of time. But on the other hand, that excitement of travelling and meeting new contacts, understanding the intricacies of a specific market on the ground has been replaced with phone/video interviews, which don’t quite fill the gap. It is the same with the big industry events – it is that random meeting at a lunch table or on the conference floor that can spark a new feature idea or a relationship. That is when you really find out what is going on versus the set conference speeches.
What do you think journalism of the future will look like? (post-Covid, social media, fake news etc)
I think that people are becoming more cognisant of where they are receiving their information from and what inherent biases may be embedded in that information. They are looking for, and will continue to look for high quality, independent and authentic news/information sources that they can trust, especially as a result of ‘fake news’.
However, that doesn’t mean journalism won’t evolve and I think we are seeing that already, with a greater focus on data stories and quantitative, as well as qualitative, research and analysis, for example.
And the emerging technologies I mentioned that are impacting the financial services industry – ie AI and machine learning – are also being deployed in the media industry. However, there are challenges around that too, so there needs to be an ethical framework developed for the use of AI in media, similar to what’s being discussed in other industries.
In your opinion, what are the most common PR/Marketing mistakes made by companies operating in financial markets?
I think one mistake is to send one standard press release to all different types of media/publications – because it is really not a one-size-fits-all. For example, a press release sent to a very technology-focused publication can dive deep into the tech aspects and will get a better response. However, the same press release sent to a more generalist publication will not get picked up because there is a high likelihood that it won’t be understood. Sending out a mass email shot is more efficient in terms of time management of course, but maybe pick a few publications that you really want to get into and tailor the release to them.
What advice would you offer PR professionals looking to get a story covered?
Know the publications, their aims, publishing schedule, target readership, etc. Have experts on hand to respond quickly to any questions that the journalist might have. When offering exclusives, make sure that they really are exclusives. Find out what the journalist needs, try to build a rapport and be very responsive, as many journalists are on super tight deadlines.