Is your firm overlooking one of its best opportunities to bring the kind of attention to your firm that makes clients and prospects sit up and take notice? And at no cost?
Your firm undoubtedly is full of financial experts – be they in tax, retirement planning, fraud prevention, real estate, management consulting or any of a dozen other specialty areas.
Coincidentally, business editors across the country are constantly looking for financial experts to quote in their business stories, interview on their news programs and write for their trade magazines.
Anyone can buy an ad, but being selected by the media as an expert tells your clients and prospects that your firm is deserving of special attention. Not only is being quoted by the business press free to your firm, it gives you and your firm a form of credibility and stature that money cannot buy.
Once you become known to financial writers, you may find yourself called on time after time to comment on the latest business happenings. Or you may be asked to write your own column for the public. What clients wouldn’t want the expert in the field as their CPA?
So how do you go about getting the attention of business editors? There are many ways.
- Read the business section of the paper. Watch the financial show you’re interested in appearing on. Take note of the kinds of stories they run, who the reporters are and how your expertise might fit in.
- Hold seminars on subjects of high public interest and send invitations to the press. In addition, ask your marketing director to send out press releases.
- If you speak at a conference on a topic of high public interest, send a copy of the presentation to a financial writer with a personal note.
- Begin attending events where the press is sometimes present, such as Chamber of Commerce meetings. Don’t be shy about approaching a financial reporter and introducing yourself. A nice icebreaker is a sincere compliment about a specific article the reporter has written or about the publication itself.
- If it’s in your comfort zone, call the newspaper, magazine or television station and introduce yourself to the business editor or the financial writer in your area of expertise. Tell them a little about your firm and your expertise. If you have a story idea, suggest it.
- Write a blog on your firm’s website. Studies show that almost all reporters surf the net looking for article ideas. Consider emailing a blog of particularly high public interest to a financial writer.
- Write articles for your firm’s client newsletter or e-letter and put the media on your mailing list. If they see an article that interests them, they very well may follow up with a phone call.
- Send members of the media a brochure on a particularly interesting topic in your area of expertise, along with a personal note.
- The media is always looking for a local angle to a national business story. If you have an idea, don’t hesitate to email or call a financial reporter. Another opportunity is finding a business angle to a breaking news story – for instance, tax breaks available to victims of a hurricane or tornado.
- If your firm’s competitors are regularly interviewed and members of your firm are not, you may want to contact the business editor. Financial writers want to play fair and may not know about your firm. They are always looking for new experts to interview.
- Once you make contact, invite the financial reporter to visit your firm. If the writer accepts, introduce others at your firm with expertise in different areas. Don’t feel slighted if the writer declines. Reporters are busy and often don’t have time for personal visits.
- If you like to write and feel certain you could come up with ideas for repeated articles, volunteer to write a column. A trade publication in your area of expertise might jump at the chance to have a column offering financial expertise.
As in any endeavor, there’s a fine line between creating opportunities and pushing too hard. If you inundate a financial publication with phone calls or send too many press releases containing unimportant or manufactured news, you’ll quickly lose credibility.
Financial writers are looking for people whose expertise they can trust and who are accessible when needed. If you’re serious about becoming a financial expert for the media, make phone calls from them a priority. Let others at your firm know that calls from the media should be put through immediately, and always return calls as soon as possible.
“When we do a retail story,” says one business editor, “there is one store manager we always call. She is incredibly accessible, she’s very smart, and she’s very honest and forthright. She gets the most ink because we are able to get the most information from her. And we know we can trust her.”
Be open and friendly when you are interviewed, but be careful. From the time you say hello until the time you say goodbye, anything you say could appear in print. Your clothing, the way you decorate your office, an interruption during the interview – any of these could appear in the article.
Be colorful and interesting, but not overly flamboyant. Remember you are representing your firm as well as yourself. The key to being successful is to translate the technical knowledge you have into everyday language that the general public can understand. That’s what the financial journalists are really looking for from you.
It’s rare for a newspaper to allow you to review an article before it appears, though some magazines do. So don’t speak too quickly and repeat information to be sure the reporter has it correctly. The more you are interviewed you will learn that there are some writers you can trust, and others you may want to avoid.
Some writers might ask for an email interview, which can assure accuracy and give you more time to craft your answers. Just be sure to write the way you talk so quotes don’t sound stilted. And proof carefully before you send.
The opportunity for you and your firm to become more visible in the community is definitely there. If you think it’s for you, learn as much as you can about the financial media in your market, decide what approach to take, and then make the leap. Who knows? We could be reading about you in the financial press any day now!
CPAmerica members can click here to find out more about how our editorial services can write or edit your content, including press releases, firm profiles and advertisements.
Judy Moore, publications director of CPAmerica International, holds an M.A. in journalism from the University of Florida. She is a former business editor of a large metropolitan daily, journalism professor and author of hundreds of business articles that have been published in regional and national magazines.