Public Relations for Every Budget - Financial Services Marketing

PR encompasses a wide variety of disciplines, including investor relations, crisis management, internal communications, influencing government policy, and community relations. This chapter will look primarily at PR as a marketing tactic —that is, how to use public relations to achieve your marketing objectives.

Press kits. The classic PR tool is the press release or press kit. A press release is a structured document. It is written like a news story, beginning with the head- line. The headline should convey something newsworthy or something contrary to expectations, and must serve your objective. “Barracuda Bank to Take Over Local Small Bank” is a newsworthy headline for a local paper, but probably puts the wrong spin on the acquisition if you’re writing for Barracuda. A better headline might be “[Name of Town] to Get Big-City Banking Benefits.” The press release continues in newspaper style, with the most important points of the story coming in the first paragraph. The second paragraph often contains a quote from one of those involved in the story. The idea is to make it simple for an editor to use your release as it is written. If the editor has space for only two paragraphs, make sure your first two paragraphs are the ones that get printed. The traditional press kit provides additional information. It can be mailed, distributed during a press conference or event, or given personally to a reporter.

A press kit may contain any or all of the following:

  • Press releases (see boxed examples on the following page)
  • Backgrounders or fact sheets about the company or product
  • White papers about industry or a particular issue of importance
  • Biographies and photographs of the principals
  • Suggested interview questions, with sample answers
  • Brochures, newsletters, and other marketing material
  • The URL of your website, which should post all of your press releases and supply background pages that reporters can refer to for information

If possible, it is a good idea to include illustrations in your press kit. Editors and reporters look for visuals to illustrate a story, and they may be more likely to pay attention to the information if it comes with a photo, slide, chart, graph, or other relevant piece of artwork. Make sure the materials you include are relevant.

Video news releases (VNRs). These tapes can be sent to local television stations, which may run a VNR as part of a news show, often as a feature, and sometimes without even mentioning that it came from a corporation. Local news budgets are low, and a slickly produced feature story about, say, a bicycle race sponsored by a local bank could well make the cut. The more a VNR looks like a real news segment and is tied to news of interest to a general audience, the more likely it is to run.

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