Have you ever wondered why the money sections of national newspapers and the trade press often quote the same companies and the same people? I used to think that too and perhaps I can explain why this is and maybe unearth a few new media commentators at the same time.
Some say the press are only interested in the bad side of our industry. But that’s not strictly true.
While there are a growing number of declined claims stories appearing in protection, we have frequently placed genuine case studies in the consumer press for many years. Each one tells a balanced, often positive story of how and why they bought protection - all of which did so on an independent and advised basis.
There are many potential benefits to intermediaries who appear regularly in the press, some are perhaps obvious – branding, lead generation, raised profile. Others are a little more opaque.
Does the broker consultant at your favourite life office call on you enough and try to solve all your problems? Life offices read the papers too; especially the trade ones, and sometimes they take a greater interest in those who go on the record with what they have to say.
So if you’re considering becoming a commentator in the media, in any area of financial services, or just often wonder why the same names often appear too regularly for your liking, there are perhaps a few unwritten ‘Do’s’ and ‘Don’ts’ that might help.
- Do take care to know your market inside out. Be accurate every time and do try and be opinionated as it makes better quotes. Never guess if you don’t know the answer.
- Do try to help every journalist regardless of the publication they are writing for. Don’t insist on being quoted, try not to specify which publications you are going to speak to and never insist on seeing the story before it runs.
- Do try to make sure you are available to help at short notice wherever possible. Try not to say ‘Can I get back to you next week?’ as journalists tend to work on very tight deadlines and will often need help on the same day. Remember that if you can’t help at short notice the chances are that somebody else can.
- Do try to provide case studies, be it ad-hoc or prepared in advance, as these not only benefit all parties as well as often increasing the word count for the story.
These tips will all help in the long run, but as with many areas of financial services success won’t happen overnight. To begin to achieve any of the benefits mentioned we need to be prepared to make a few sacrifices with our time and measure success in terms of years rather than weeks.
Lastly, you may wonder why I would put this in print – and here comes my 15 seconds of fame! I’m a qualified adviser who has written more than 1,500 protection policies, almost as many mortgages, and been quoted in the consumer and trade press on more than 1,500 occasions – so I guess have a fair degree of experience that others may find useful.
But the truth is quite simply that there are not enough good independent intermediary spokespeople out there who are both knowledgeable and available. That’s why it is often why the same ones are regularly quoted.
As an industry we need more of our kind to better promote the financial services industry, along with the importance of independent advice, not just in protection, but across all areas of financial planning.
Kevin Carr is head of protection strategy at LifeSearch.
The views expressed are those of the author and not those of the company he represents.IFAonline
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