Rebecca Jones looks at what a PR strategy can bring to an advisory practice, and reveals a few simple tactics for raising your profile.
For many advisers, PR is, and always has been, something of a dirty acronym. After all, public relations is about selling, whether it be a product or a personality, and this can seem anathema to advisers whose business models are based on building lasting relationships and attracting referrals.
However, in an age where both current and prospective clients are increasingly attracted to ‘authorities’, building your public profile, whether through an informative, interactive website or positive press coverage, can be highly valuable and, for some, even enjoyable.
Why, who, where and how
One PR enthusiast – although he is loath to use the term – is Pete Matthew, director of Jacksons Wealth Management. Currently, Matthew runs personal finance website meaningfulmoney.tv – which receives around 90 views per day – Advisertech, an online marketing and social media consultancy service for financial advisers, and records a number of financial planning podcasts available through iTunes.
How to set up a PR strategy
Despite the ten hours per week they take to maintain, Matthew claims he is “having a whale of a time” running his projects, all of which he credits with having raised his profile both inside and outside the industry.
However, despite his enthusiasm, Matthew does admit to experiencing somewhat of a learning curve with his endeavours and his first bit of advice to any adviser thinking about embarking on PR is to have a solid plan.
“Have a reason for raising your profile. I didn’t start with the idea of driving business to Jacksons but, if I were doing it now, that is absolutely why I would do it and I would do things differently. It is fair to say that meaningfulmoney would be much bigger by now if I had had a plan,” he says.
The key to a successful PR strategy is to identify exactly what you want to achieve, who you want to target and how to reach them. Having considered this, Alistair Cunningham, director of Wingate Financial Planning, focuses his PR efforts on building his authority through press coverage in the newspapers his clients read.
“Our typical client is 50 to 60 years old and approaching retirement. They tend to be in the centre politically and read The Telegraph and The Times. Quite a big part of our strategy is thinking about what the sort of people that read those newspapers are interested in,” he explains.
Laying the foundations
Before looking to an outside platform, however, Matthew says advisers should ensure their website is as informative and engaging as possible, as it is what most prospective clients will be initially drawn to.
“Fill your website with great content people can learn from and use, and then, when they have consumed that, they can turn to you to put it into action,” he says.
Karen Barrett, chief executive of unbiased.co.uk, suggests beginning with some press releases.
“Start writing some releases on basic things, such as changes to your business, awards or any new services. They do not have to be particularly exciting but it is something to hone your skills on,” she says.
Secondly, Barrett advises having a look around at what other advisers are doing: what their websites and press releases look like, the coverage they are receiving and how they seem to be benefiting from it.
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