the faculty at your college or graduate school didn't teach this course, shame on them. And if you mutual fund pros haven't learned it yet, shame on you. It's only four words long: Media Presence Attracts Assets. And it has a four-point syllabus:
- Sharing your expertise and experience is useful for the American public and may be profitable for you.
- "The press" is NOT the enemy. If you treat it correctly, it can be a friend. Respect it. Trust it.
- Dealing with the press is a business. Treat it as you would any other customer. Allocate the appropriate corporate resources.
- Do your homework BEFORE writing or calling. Read the publication. Listen to the broadcast. Know your audience. Customize your message accordingly.
Is it as easy as it sounds? Of course not, no business is easy. And gaining a media presence may require dispensing with some enduring myths about public relations. But if you make becoming a media resource part of your growth strategy, you quickly will earn an extraordinary return on investment.
The press is inexpensive. It's efficient. It's credible. And it is as critical a component of mutual fund distribution and marketing as any of the traditional practices and channels, such as advertising, Internet sites, trade shows, lunches with financial advisors, fund supermarkets, and 401(k) markets.
There are a number of ways to build your rapport with the media marketing channel. This week, I will focus on the simpliest way ...
Become A Source
Most mutual fund companies and their professionals have not taken advantage of linking themselves to prime qualified prospects by becoming an expert source for reporters and editors. This reluctance may stem from believing allegations such as "reporters are never influenced by outside story ideas," "my firm is too small to be taken seriously; only the big guys get press," "good performance is the only way reporters will talk to me" and "I'm not going to talk to the press because I'll get misquoted." Or maybe you've been paralyzed by a generic fear of "the press."
Well, you may get misquoted. But the rarity of that event should not prevent you from taking the chance that you will be. Journalists always want knowledgeable input about investment strategies, market trends, and your clients' most vexing problems.
And forget about only firms with $1 billion in assets under management getting in the paper or being seen on the television. Because he knows how to take advantage of an asset when he sees one, the president of a firm managing just $80 million in assets ...
... has a radio show.
... uses a savvy Web site to get in front of a far wider base and a much deeper base of potential customers than if he had remained a member of the industry's largely silent majority.
... writes a well-read and a profitable monthly newsletter.
... earned a four-minute spot on CNNfn to talk about his investment strategy and his views of the markets.
Reporters Rely On Experts
Reporters and editors in all media outlets rely on experts who understand trends, who have unique access to critical data and who can connect them to key industry contacts and important market analysts. Such sources are essential to creating compelling content for local and national print and broadcast news publications including financial sites on the Internet.
Earning a reputation as an expert does not come through advertising, but comes from you sharing your expertise. When the media cites you as a reliable source on a particular topic, you gain third-party recognition. Once that happens, others will want to hear your thoughts. You can expect to receive calls from other journalists looking for information.
You don't have to learn a new skill or do anything differently. You advise media with the same thought and skill you use with your clients. Journalists will appreciate you sharing your expertise with their audiences.
Any calls from prospects reading your quotes pale in comparison to the brand-name awareness you are building for yourself and for your company and to the portfolio of prestigious third-party materials you are compiling and you will use with your financial intermediaries or perspective investors. If you show a qualified prospect a sample from a reputable publication and your rival shows him/her pretty and colorful ads and marketing brochures, who's going to get the business?
Dan Sondhelm is partner and vice president of Morrison/Carlisle Strategic Financial Relations, a public relations consulting firm that works exclusively with mutual fund companies, money management firms, service providers and consultants. The firm also publishes iFinancialMarketing.com, a Web site designed to share information about trends in marketing, tips and strategies for working with the media, specific media opportunities, job openings, conferences and other areas that pertain to financial public relations, marketing, and communications for mutual funds.
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