If you are like most fund executives, you cringe at the cost of hiring a PR pro or bringing on an outside firm who will scour the financial news media in search of opportunities for regular and consistent coverage for your firm.
However, the expense may be worth it. Just like wholesalers with intermediaries, a good PR pro can leverage their relationships and persuasion skills with reporters to get your fund the media attention it deserves. Still, marketing dollars are tough to come by. You may be forced to limit major programs.
If you want to run your own media relations efforts, try these proven methods to turbo-charge your results.
1. Send an investor newsletter to reporters
Newsletters and quarterly updates are appreciated by your investors. You’ve already paid for the idea generation, writing, editing, graphics, and printing of the slick documents so why not send it to your list of reporters? You may not hear from them right away, but over time they will know who you are. Columns written by a portfolio manager expressing his/her insights are particularly valuable. When quotes or segments from your newsletters are picked up by prestigious publications, it generates investor confidence.
2. Find a reporter wherever you go
Add reporters to the mix when your portfolio manager visits with technology companies in the Silicon Valley, or meets with brokers in Southern Florida. Cities such as San Francisco, Miami, Washington DC, Chicago, and Boston have reporters from national publications that cover investing. In smaller cities, you can focus on business reporters of local newspapers and business journals. Though they may not focus on funds, you can offer your perspective on the local companies you just visited.
3. Go national to get in your local newspaper
It’s not unusual for a fund company to have a tough time getting attention from its local newspaper. Only a handful of newspapers, such as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel or the Chicago Tribune, have reporters who cover mutual funds or personal investing. Most likely, the mutual fund articles you read come from syndicated writers and New York wire services, such as Bloomberg and Associated Press. If you are getting nowhere with your local business reporter, seek some national attention, such as an appearance on CNBC, or the mutual fund column in Barrons. Then, call the local business reporter, and share the news your fund manager has received national attention and recognition. You will be surprised at how quickly he or she takes notice.
4. "Dollar-cost-average" your reporter database
Hundreds of reporters write about mutual funds, investing, and personal finance. With reporter moves, beat changes, and new publications, keeping track of journalists is no easy task. Don't waste time and resources trying to build the perfect list before starting a public relations program. Instead, compile a short database including the name, publication, address, phone, fax, and e-mail of familiar reporters. As new reporters call you for information, add them to the database. To boost your effort, contact a few targeted reporters every month. Before you know it, you will have built a pretty serious "nest-egg" of reporters.
5. Fill your calendar when in New York
Imagine this scenario: a producer from CNBC calls you to do a live interview in just a few days. The catch? You have to do it from NY. While in town, make the most of your time. Set up additional meetings with some of the hundreds of reporters at influential publications who cover mutual funds and investing. They want new sources, and you may get additional coverage and relationships from the effort.
6. Help them get ratings
So, you're going to be on television. Stations such as CNBC and Bloomberg TV are viewed in most brokerages, money management shops, newsrooms, and households. However, if you don't let your friends and colleagues know about your appearance, they may not be watching. Don't be afraid to do a little self-promoting. Blast an e-mail to your intermediaries and wholesalers.
7. Use it or lose it
Hundreds-of-thousands of potential customers read and are influenced by positive news coverage. However, many fund companies do not maximize the benefits by using the articles, video tapes, and transcripts in their other marketing efforts. Consider capitalizing on the reprints by sending the articles to your intermediaries or include a few in your information kit. Feature the transcript or video on your web site. Pull quotes, and use them in your newsletter. You can also write a press release highlighting what you said, and distribute it on PR Newswire for other reporters to see.
8. Practice makes perfect
Portfolio managers wonder why they spend hours talking with reporters but end up with little coverage. Your expert could need help improving his or her communication skills by cutting their two-minute answer to 20 seconds, or by conveying their message regardless of the question. Help your expert develop key messages on the benefits of their products and the strengths of their management style. Also, arrange practice interviews in front of a video camera to ensure that messages are conveyed in a clear, concise, and effective manner.
9. Help out a reporter in need
Reporters come to you because they are in need of specific information. A producer from CNBC calls looking to interview the portfolio manager of your top performing, small cap value fund. Unless you have a previous relationship, the reporter probably found out about your fund after running a screen for top performing small cap value funds. Move quickly to take advantage of the opportunity. There is a good chance several funds ranking in the top ten were also called. Be responsive. You can make a long-term friend for additional coverage.
We understand budgets are often tight and money doesn’t grow on trees, but in the long run investing in a good PR pro can really payoff. Our account executives at SunStar Strategic have spent years cultivating relationships with the media and can help you get the coverage you desire. Let's talk.