Like most things worth doing, choosing the right Public Relations partner can be *hard*. I often hear advisors and wealth managers describe the practice of PR as an invaluable, yet somewhat intangible unicorn-like resource that can be either a total game-changer for their businesses – or a complete time and money sucking experience if not done well.
As I look around the independent advisory industry, I see only a handful of media mavens who skillfully use PR’s prowess to deliver their message naturally, thereby directly engaging the industry to impart their expertise. From Ron Carson’s “Ron-sense” to Joe Duran’s industry insight to Michael Kitces’ Nerd’s Eye View, it seems some just shine in the media spotlight with seemingly effortless ease.
I think these “media darlings” were born with this gift. It’s best to acknowledge their talent, allow yourself a moment of envy, but then move past it. Because for most, it takes *a lot* of work that is not only time consuming, but often outside your wheelhouse of expertise. (Yes, it is, and that is OK. Creating a financial plan is outside of *my* wheelhouse!).
For the mere mortal who must *work* at their PR presence, engaging the right PR partner is paramount.
After all, these are the professionals who you are entrusting with the reputation of you, your executives and your firm. How the media and their readers (a.k.a. your clients, prospects, peers and partners) perceive you is in their hands. And if you don’t like what the reporters write about you, these are the guys that are going to charge into the fray to defend your honor. So they better be folks who you not only like, but who can walk the talk – especially since PR is an investment (but so worth it!).
When you’re looking for the right PR partner, it’s important to ask yourself these questions about your prospective PR firm:
- Do they know YOUR business and industry? The #1 comment we hear from advisors and fintech companies alike is how previous PR partners never really understood them or took the time to get to know them. Don’t be afraid to ask them some questions, including what opportunities/challenges do they as PR professionals see for the independent wealth management industry? Their answers to your questions will give you a pretty good idea of the depth of their knowledge. And if they don’t know what the fiduciary rule is – or was – just keep moving.
- They know your business, but how well connected are they to industry media AND influencers? Although reporters and influencers are equally as important to engage, how you approach them is completely different. Ask your potential PR partner who they know, how frequently they meet with them and how comfortable they are working with them. If they’re hobnobbing often, that’s a good thing! If not, their connections may not be as tight as you need them to be. And if they ask you to pay for them to build these connections—well, that’s not PR and they most likely don’t have them yet.
- What does their client roster look like? Does the PR firm have other advisors, fintech, wealth-tech, independent wealth managers, etc. on their client roster? Look for other likeminded businesses in their portfolio – and ask for case studies. If they have good examples handy, then you’re that much closer to determining whether they are a good partner for your business.
- Do you like and trust them? In an industry of relationships, liking and trusting your PR partners is a must. Good PR professionals will see it as their job to provide counsel, coach you, guide you, and maybe even disagree with you from time to time. If you don’t like or trust them, then their counsel – as sound as it may be – will be that much harder to swallow. Plus, you’ll be spending a lot of time with them, so it’s nice to work with people you like!
As you search for the PR partner that is right for you and your business, it’s important to ask around the industry and see which names keep popping up. Then speak with a couple of different PR firms to determine which one is right for you. At the end of the day, you need to find a firm that you like, trust and that you feel has your business’s best interest at heart.