From the Financial Times to Finextra, the Covid-19 pandemic and the US election continue to dominate news headlines, and it can feel like an impossible task to get the media talking about your company. But while these are front-page stories that impact us all, journalists and readers are still hungry for good news stories, especially with so much change and disruption in the world around us.
In a recent Guardian Masterclass “Pitching to journalists: a practical workshop”, Kate Carter, a freelance journalist and the lifestyle editor at The Guardian, shared her advice for business owners, social media experts and PR professionals to refine develop trusted and mutually valuable relationships with the right journalists.
The masterclass was a timely reminder of the proactive things we can do either as company founders, in-house communications executives or PR agents, to be of greater service to journalists. We’ve already talked about the how fintechs can build rapport with journalists on the MD Consulting blog, so here I look at three ways you can make a journalist’s life easier and increase the chances of getting coverage for your organisation.
- Focus on themes and story ideas connected to what is being talked about today
It can be easy to get caught up in your own news. A product development, an executive hire or clients won, for example, is likely great news for your business. And while this might get some coverage in the trade press, it’s unlikely to make your company stand out and get placed in the in-depth features your target audience is reading.
The main thing journalists look for when they scan the multitude of emails they receive each day is themes related to the topics they cover and connections to current issues and trends. When you suggest story ideas with a broader theme that is timely and highly-tailored to what a journalist covers, you are offering real value.
How can you do this? Stay abreast of the issues facing your industry, for example; regulatory changes or disruption through digitisation. Look at what others in your space are saying about these topics. Most importantly, think from the perspective of the journalist’s audience – who they write for and why they would be interested in reading a story on this topic. Simply put, what is it that this audience needs to know? Link the theme back to your business and offer your company spokesperson for an interview should the journalist like to pursue the angle.
- Offer your best case study customers for interview
In a recent blog, Who would testify on your behalf?, Managing Director at MD Consulting, Martina Doherty, explored the under-utilised tool of case studies and testimonials. Describing them as “marketing gold” in the B2B world of financial services, she says client endorsements “are key content that can help promote your product or service in a convincing fashion – as well as proof that you are who you say you are.”
While we often think about case studies as a means for acquiring more customers, it is worth also considering the value they hold for journalists. Your customers provide third-party credible sources for first-hand comment on the issues your business solves, and you can play a key role in connecting journalists with your best advocates.
How can you use case studies as a PR hook? Let’s look at an example. When MD Consulting was profile-raising for our client Monobank, building brand awareness for the Ukrainian bank in the UK FinTech and financial markets, we secured an article exploring how the digital bank was incentivising customers to save by tying interest rates to exercise. Naturally, we made Monobank’s CEO available for comment but went one step further by introducing one of their customers to the reporter who gave an account of his experience with the “sports deposit” savings account. You can read the story here ‘Ukraine bank offers 21% interest rate for doing 10,000 steps a day.’ Notice how this customer is quoted in the top half of the story, while the CEO’s comments are further down. That’s because it is the first-hand experience of using this unique product that readers are most interested in.
- Introduce your expert sources for comment
Similarly to case study customers, journalists often also need subject matter experts to explain issues and trends and provide credible opinions. While your CEO is often the best spokesperson to speak about your business, there may be others in your company who are better placed to comment on specific topics such as security, compliance or user experience and that could add valuable commentary to the issues and trends you want to align with.
Kate Carter said she uses her email inbox like a search engine to find expert sources when she is working on a story. So, while a journalist might not need your expert source today, it is worth introducing them to the media and ensuring they have adequate media training in anticipation of their role as credible spokesperson. Don’t expect an immediate response to these introductions, but know they are useful and often archived for use in the future.
So what does a good introduction look like? An overview of their credentials and the key topics and themes they can comment on is a must, as well as the keywords you want your source associated with. This exercise can be repurposed for your corporate social media channels, so even if the journalist doesn’t reach out to your expert, your in-house expert can still help broaden your brand footprint.
The masterclass was also a timely reminder that many journalists today work freelance and need to sell their story ideas to publishers before they start writing. Managing their time effectively is crucial to earning an income so by keeping this top of mind and really thinking about adding value to their work, you stand a greater chance of building a trusted relationship and gaining press coverage for your business.
Need help with PR outreach for your FinTech or RegTech company? Contact us today.