1. Plan it. Have a proper marketing and PR plan in place. Work out what you want to achieve and why, then how and when you are going to do it. You may prefer to appoint a media spokesperson within your team or spread the responsibility between yourselves. Whatever you decide, be yourself, be available at short notice and respond quickly. Having good quality headshot photos ready is helpful too.
2. Build relationships with journalists. People buy people so as well as using social networks, make contact with journalists directly by email, phone or ideally face to face. Suggest a short meeting where you can put forward three or four story ideas in person.
3. Build a public profile as an expert. Write regular articles and get them published where possible. Use blogs, and social media profiles to "broadcast" them and also try to get on the radio and TV – locally is a great place to start. Always make yourself available to the media, and remember that journalists usually work to very short timescales. Don't complain, rather make it as easy for them to call on you as often as possible. You will quickly become their default contact which will guarantee you exposure.
4. Case studies. Good articles and stories about Financial Planning need a human interest element to bring them to life. Journalists continually ask for case studies, real life examples that you can supply of clients who have benefitted in different ways from the service you have provided. Your most satisfied clients will usually be pleased to comment on what value they have received from the process. Usually clients must be willing to be photographed and have a brief phone interview with the journalist.
5. Engage with social media. LinkedIn and Twitter are great ways to make contact and engage with journalists most of whom are active on such sites. Keep your content fresh and mix it up. Add links back to your website (using URL shorteners like bit.ly) and use RSS feeds so your main site always has fresh content, which improves search engine rankings. Use Twitter to build links to your blog and hashtags that make your posts more searchable.
6. Issue press releases/ comments. This somewhat old fashioned approach still holds some merit, but for the best results journalists usually prefer a brief story which is exclusive to them, rather than one that has been widely circulated.
7. Build a great website. You'll need a well designed and effective website – and don't forget a mobile version too as the use of smartphones and tablets to access the internet is escalating rapidly. Make sure it's media friendly, with contact details and photos as well as access to blogs and other content.
8. Video/ Podcast. This is becoming a more and more popular way of getting a message across as it encourages more interaction with the audience. It is also a good way of aligning yourself with a TV or radio station as the resident expert.
9. Employ a PR agency. A good PR agency will help to ensure your business messages are clearly defined and are used by the most respected financial journalists in the country. PR agencies can be expensive but consider the money as an investment in potential business growth if appropriate.
10. Take part in Financial Planning Week. The IFP's national consumer awareness campaign takes place from 25 November 2013. Get involved and use the increased focus on Financial Planning to elevate your brand and expertise with the media.
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