Written by: Nicola Michel
The role of public relations in financial services may not have changed; the need to build and protect brand and reputation remains as strong as ever.
But what has changed is the tools PR professionals use. In the brave new world of digital and online, the best PR (and other) wins are scored using an integrated communication approach. And blogging forms an integral part of it.
We’re not saying media coverage (a.k.a earned media – think column inches and editorial) is no longer important. It absolutely is. But the new world of PR is one in which organisations, including financial services, have way more than just the earned media lever at their disposal. When you add to that the power of both owned media (content you publish yourself, eg on your website) and paid (advertising) media into the mix, you have yourself the makings of an integrated model. This puts in your hands the tools you need to direct all your organisation’s content to your target audiences via a range of channels – way beyond traditional media. And that can drive serious business results – from reputation and brand management right through to hard sales leads.
So where does blogging come in?
Falling squarely into the owned section of the integrated camp, blogging is now viewed by some as an alternative to traditional media.
Why blog? There are three main reasons.
1. Builds trust with your financial services organisation
People like to buy or take recommendations from their friends, or people whose word they trust. A quality blog can help achieve this.
If the role of PR is to help an organisation build, shape and fine-tune its public voice, your blog can be a powerful tool. But your blog content must not be about you and your product. It must be solving customer problems or giving potential customers information they need or value. Before you write word one, understand who you are creating your content for, the problems they need to solve or the information they are seeking.
2. A blog can position you as an expert
Before you blog, and once you’ve defined your audience, decide what you stand for, what you are trying to communicate, why and with what outcomes. Then, be consistent. If you can provide reliable and trustworthy information on the industry (say for advisers or institutional investors), helpful reviews and explanation of products for consumers or advisers, and even comment on business and economic issues, over time you can position yourself as expert in your sphere. And everybody loves an expert.
3. Search engine optimization
The holy grail of SEO is to have your business land on the first page of Google without any paid advertisement. Failing that, the aim is to rank high in search results for whatever your potential customers are looking for. Enter blogging. Judicious use of keywords in your blogs can boost your search results enormously.
So get onto your keyword analysis ASAP so you can let those Google bots know what you know – and be rewarded for it.
Three top tips to getting the most from your blog
1. Looking for lead generation? Blog regularly
If your aim is to generate leads, aim to blog three times a week.
2. Use analytics to guide you
Be sure to track your success in Google Analytics (or any other analytics tool you use).
Key metrics to consider include:
Demographic data is also a rich source of information about who your readers are, where they come from and to see the other topics they are interested in.
This information can help you round out your personas, and provide them with the kind of content they are looking for.
We “get” that what clients or members, versus advisors or accountants, or institutional investors or fund managers will value is different. Very different. So cater to those different needs and let the numbers then tell you which content works and which doesn’t.
3. Leverage, leverage, leverage
If your blog is getting good engagement and reach, this can guide broader activity you undertake in the business (including the kinds of pitches you make to trade and finance journalists) because you have had evidence of what your audience is actually interested in.
The bottom line?
Get started. Understand your audience, give them what they want and be consistent. Your blog, as part of an integrated communication model, can be a powerful tool in public relations success.