Financial Public Relations: The insider's guide to success

The good news is that you're in the right place if you want to learn about PR for financial businesses. The financial world presents unique challenges. Fortunately, as an agency with expertise in this area, we have written this guide, which explains everything about Financial PR.

published: May 7, 2024
updated: May 7, 2024

When banks or other financial companies falter, the repercussions are severe. Stocks plummet, companies crumble, jobs evaporate, and people's trust in financial institutions (meant to safeguard their interests) is shattered. Financial companies are crucial to people's welfare, to industry, governments, and economies.

It's no wonder, then, that when they make mistakes, the media (and the public) are less than sympathetic. And who can blame them?

The financial crisis of 2008 is far from being a distant memory for many people. Financial public relations carries a lot on its shoulders, more than other types of PR. This is why many choose to hire a PR agency. In this article, we'll uncover why Financial PR is important, the specificities guiding it, and why you should hire a Financial PR agency instead of trying to do it in-house. We also provide a step-by-step guide on implementing your own strategy.

What is financial PR?

Money elicits strong reactions from people. We all need it. We all (hopefully) have some, and we all want more. Once you get over this, you realize that doing PR for financial companies is a lot like PR for any sector and involves the careful and well-thought-out dissemination of information to audiences, the desire to be seen in the best light possible, and the need to build and maintain a strong reputation.

Financial PR is the amalgamation of information pertaining to facts, figures, and news about a financial service company and its positive impact on stakeholders.

It works to evoke optimistic reactions from customers, investors, and the public. What makes this a bit more of a challenge is combining all the above with the legalities and regulations often in place in financial settings (as we’ll see).

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Why is financial public relations important?

Financial services PR performs various functions that help a financial business achieve its goals. In finance, credibility is a powerful currency. The goal of PR is to bring credibility to a brand and boost its reputation, enhancing audience perceptions and investor confidence by effectively communicating a firm's integrity, expertise, and customer commitment.

Here are some other ways that financial public relations is important.

1

Building trust

It all comes down to trust. Finance companies rely on being seen as trustworthy and competent. Without it, they'd cease to function. Just think.

Would you bank with a company losing money or use an investment app that repeatedly gets hacked, compromising your personal details? No, you would not.

Take what happened with the brokerage firm MF Global in 2011. After making some ill-judged bets on European debt, doubts about the firm's solvency and suspicions that it was using customer funds to meet capital requirements (which it was) arose. People lost trust in the firm and their competence and withdrew their funds, leading to a liquidity crisis and its downfall. A stern warning of the dire consequences of a lack of trust.

2

Making announcements

If you plan to take your company public, expand into new markets, or introduce new products, then PR can help. Your PR team can put together a comprehensive media strategy to ensure your 'story' is shared with the right audience at the right time for maximum impact.

Financial companies are required to provide financial reports to shareholders at various intervals—be it quarterly, six-monthly, or annually. PR can highlight your financial achievements and develop a messaging strategy based on your success, future direction, and ambitions, reassuring investors, and catching the eye of new ones in the process.

3

Plan for the worst. Hope for the best

Financial public relations can come to your rescue in the worst of the worst 'what if' moments. Think of data breaches, negative employee actions, or stock crashes. You need to be both reactive and proactive here. If there's a data breach, PR teams can react to the crisis by opening up lines of communication with the public to reassure them the event is under control and being rectified.

Of course, it goes without saying responses will be firmer if they've been planned in advance. This is where crisis management comes into play. It might seem a waste of time planning for hypothetical scenarios that may not ever come, but you'll thank us later if they do.

4

Highlighting your unique selling points

In the highly competitive world of Financial PRoducts, where millions are poured into advertising, good public relations can cut through the noise and draw attention to your product’s qualities and what makes it stand out. Does it save time or have better functions? Is it cheaper? Public relations can develop messaging that drives these features home to audiences.

This also works to arouse investor curiosity.

PR can help communicate your uniqueness in the market, Financial PRoficiency, and growth plans—all music to investor ears. This brings us rather nicely to our next point…

5

Targeted messaging

Good financial public relations ensures that the messaging surrounding different products is tailored to the needs of specific audiences. For example, if an investment product is ideal for risk-averse investors, messaging should focus on stability, safety, and consistent returns. For those aimed at the more aggressive investor, messaging could highlight the likelihood of high returns and market-beating potential.

This targeted approach helps effectively communicate the USP to the right audience.

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What are the specificities of financial PR?

The economy, stocks and share prices play a huge role in the markets and investor confidence. It's no wonder then, that doing Financial public relations can be hugely different from other industries. Due to its potential to directly affect investor confidence and market behavior, financial public relations is remakably distinct from PR in other sectors.

Here are key aspects that set it apart:

1

Regulatory concerns

Financial public relations operates under strict regulations, much more so than other industries. PR in finance must comply with these rules, and companies and PR teams must ensure that these are factored into their communications.

Misleading information can manipulate and deceive investors, lead to accusations of fraud, and result in lawsuits. Not ideal. PR professionals need to be well-versed in these regulations to ensure compliance in all their communications.

In specific cases, it’s advised that the PR team work together with law practitioners (or the relevant regulative specialists) to ensure compliance with regulatory requirements.

2

Disseminating complex information

Good Financial PR involves more than just selling and promoting products or services. It requires a thorough understanding of financial markets. Information in this area is more likely to involve complex and technical concepts. Translating these into accessible and jargon-free messaging is a skill. Public relations should aim to make information accessible to all its audience, including customers, investors, and regulatory bodies.

While customer and investor needs may differ, the need to be clear and transparent for both is still necessary. You need all stakeholders to understand your product and what it does. Greater understanding means increased engagement. This keeps customers happy and leads to repeat business.

Note: It is crucial that the meaning of the message is conveyed without being literally lost in translation. To ensure that the intended message's context remains unchanged when editing messages to make the content easier to understand or digest, specialized wordsmithing is required.

3

Media scrutiny

In Financial PR, transparency is critical. The sector is subject to intense media scrutiny, more so during periods of financial uncertainty. Financial organizations must carefully manage public perceptions by maintaining honesty in their communications.

Exaggerated claims are particularly risky in finance, as they can quickly attract negative media attention and damage trust.

Building robust relationships with the media, characterized by timely and straightforward communication, is essential in managing this scrutiny effectively.

Working with specialist Financial PR agencies bring several key benefits:

  • Expert navigation of media landscapes: Financial PR agencies have a deep understanding of the financial media landscape, including the key journalists, influencers, and publications that drive opinion and news in this sector. They know who to engage with and how to craft messages that resonate, which is crucial when managing the nuanced perceptions of Financial PRoducts or services.
  • Crisis management expertise: Financial markets are sensitive to news and information. A specialist PR agency is equipped with the skills and strategies to manage communication effectively during a crisis, mitigating negative impacts on the brand and stock prices. They can execute swift, transparent, and factual communications that maintain or restore trust among investors, clients, and the public.
  • Regulatory compliance and messaging: Financial PR specialists are well-versed in the complex web of regulations that govern communications in the financial industry. They ensure that all public relations activities are compliant with securities laws and regulations which prevents selective disclosure of material non-public information.
  • Strategic timing and distribution: Specialist agencies understand the optimal timing for releasing financial information to maximize positive impact and minimize potential market disruption. They coordinate the release of sensitive financial updates such as earnings reports, merger announcements, or leadership changes, considering global market hours and investor attention cycles.
  • Building and maintaining credibility: In finance, credibility is everything. A specialist PR agency helps establish and maintain credibility through consistent, clear, and accurate messaging. They position clients as thought leaders and reliable entities, which is crucial for sustaining long-term relationships with stakeholders and supporting the client’s business objectives.
  • Proactive reputation management: Financial PR agencies don’t just react to the news; they help create it. By proactively positioning the company in relevant discussions, highlighting innovations, corporate responsibility efforts, or leadership insights, they can enhance the company’s profile and control the narrative more effectively than reactive communication strategies allow.

Their strategic approach to communications ensures that financial entities not only withstand the pressures of market expectations and regulatory demands but thrive amidst them by shaping investor relations and public perception positively.

4

Market impact

Communications in Financial PR can significantly influence market behavior instantaneously. Announcements regarding earnings or mergers and acquisitions (M&A) can lead to substantial stock price volatility.

Therefore, the timing and manner of these announcements require meticulous planning.

Being cognizant of broader economic conditions can help in choosing the optimal moment for releasing such information, mitigating potential market disruptions.

In conclusion, Financial PR holds a unique position due to its regulatory environment, the complexity of the information handled, the level of media attention, and its direct impact on the market. Mastery in navigating these challenges is crucial for PR professionals in this field to effectively support their organizations and safeguard their reputations.

Our financial PR strategy: step by step

Navigating the complex landscape of Financial PR requires more than just tactical execution; it demands a strategic, informed approach.

Your team needs a roadmap to follow. With PR at the helm, you can position the business within the market as a trusted expert and serious profit-making entity. A strategy also strengthens the internal resolve to achieve business goals and ensures everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet.

Below is a five-point guide you can use to get started in PR in finance:

1

Decide objectives and goals

Make these as specific as possible and make sure they directly tie in with a goal. For example, coverage for coverage's sake does not help anyone or achieve a specific metric. There needs to be a direction and an end goal. Ex: Increase sales by 15% in the next 12 months…

If this is your main goal, the coverage you seek should be in outlets whose audience will help you reach it. You may also want to set mini goals as time passes, such as 5% by June, 10% by October… etc.

Defining what success looks like is also key to resource planning. You may need to shift resources and efforts as you go along.

2

Monitor and leverage keywords

In Financial PR, keeping abreast of market trends and regulatory changes is critical. Agencies use advanced tools to monitor relevant keywords and industry buzzwords, ensuring that the client's PR activities are timely and informed by current events. This continuous monitoring helps in crafting content that resonates with the market and meets the regulatory standards, ensuring all communications are both relevant and compliant.

3

Create press releases

Your press release can cover annual reports, new hires, acquisitions, or other important news. Financial media relations requires knowing how to write a press release. Press releases provide the perfect opportunity to share news and disclose important information, often a legal requirement for finance companies. If everyone is doing this, then you need to stand out! Consider charts, infographics or other eye-catching items.

Press releases should be accurate and clear to avoid misinterpretation.

You want your achievements to do the talking, so no fancy language.

Keep it plain and simple to share results.

One thing to consider: regular press releases help to build a ‘communication rhythm’ between you and your key audiences, establishing expectations for how and when people receive this, reinforcing your brand’s commitment to openness and transparency, and building meaningful relationships. It also keeps you top of mind. Don’t forget to leverage the company website and social media and send press releases directly to industry analysts and relevant journalists...

4

Find journalists / Strategic media outreach

Now, it's time to press send. But to whom? Bear in mind that most PR companies in the sector will also have a list.

There are tools to scope out journalists and the key industry analysts most relevant to your sector. These databases allow you to search by topic, location, media type, and various other filters to ensure you match the journalists most likely interested in your news.

Twitter and LinkedIn are also super useful.

Journalists tweet and share stories on ‘X’ and LinkedIn, making it far easier to find relevant ones and contact them directly.

LinkedIn also provides a ‘CV’ of the individual, so you can assess their suitability. Contact them and ask if they're interested in covering your news. Send them the details, make yourself open to questions, and fill in any blanks they have.

Effective Financial PR agencies go beyond mere distribution; they focus on building rapport with key media figures, enhancing the quality and frequency of coverage.

5

Measure and adjust

There's only one way to find out if your tactics have worked (now you understand why we impressed upon you the importance of establishing benchmarks and KPI metrics earlier). These KPIs will show which tactics are working wonders for your PR goals and which need to be adjusted slightly.

You can change and implement new tactics, reinforce or redirect more time and effort to others, and track brand mentions, product mentions, news overage and impact on web traffic.

Financial PR best practices

Humanize it

Unsurprisingly, the world of finance does not fascinate everyone (go figure). It can be boring to many. But numbers can also be made fun and interesting.Sure, there are a lot of figures involved, but there is also a human element.

Look to incorporate these human interest elements, such as stories of how the announcement will impact real people and businesses.

Make use of user testimonials. This can humanize what hard data may struggle to ‘explain.’

Naturally, facts and figures are important to share in Finance PR, but this shouldn’t be a barrier to making them accessible.

Take this example of good financial media relations: when Fidelity Investments announced the launch of its Fidelity Youth app in 2023, it included some figures on what teens (the target audience) had to say about the importance of investing. For example, 75% feel it’s important, but few (23%) have begun. It also included other statistics on the subject, all accessible and relevant to audiences and designed to raise interest in the product.

Be proactive

Be the first to bring up bad news. This tactic means you get to control the narrative. It also puts you in a position to respond to people’s concerns rather than being on the back foot later or looking like you were trying to suppress the news.

Tackling this head-on gives the impression that it's under control and gives confidence to those impacted.

Don't bite the hand that feeds you

It goes without saying you need to be careful about making inflated statements about investment returns. When it comes to finance, strict rules and regulations by the regulators govern what can be said, by whom, and when.

Different markets and territories have different requirements, so be wary of those. IPOs, for instance, have specific rules and regulations to follow. Get legal advice about what you can and can't say. It could save you a lot of trouble down the line.

Highlight your CSR credentials

CSR stands for corporate social responsibility. One best practice for your financial business is to draw attention to anything unusual or different from the industry norm. For instance, if you give share entitlements to workers, are a community-run co-operative, or give back in some other way, then highlight this.

But be warned: nothing irks people more than untruths or hypocrisy, and if you aren’t doing what you say, it could cause irreversible damage to your reputation.

Summarize key figures

Several financial metrics are sought after by investors, including revenues, earnings per share (EPS), and net income.

Place these as bullet points on top of company reports or press releases.

Statements about growth rates from one time period compared to another offer useful snapshots of growth that can be acted on. The great thing about strong data sets is that they speak for themselves without any need to embellish, so use them.

Leverage owned media

Time to let your owned media speak. For many, a website is the first contact with your firm. It’s also something you can control.

Your website should be more than just functional; it should shine.

User experience (UX) helps people navigate your website and tells them exactly what you do and how and why you do it so well.

Don’t forget to make your site mobile-friendly. It is estimated that only 13% of websites retain their search engine rankings across all devices. Most things are done nowadays on mobile devices, so ranking well on desktop searches may not translate to mobile devices. De-jargon your site, too, to attract more people. Update your blogs, especially evergreen content.

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Thought leadership

Maybe your leaders or executives have something valuable to say. Thought leadership, built over time, can be leveraged to turn your executives' knowledge into industry-leading insights. Utilizing blogs is an effective strategy to establish thought leadership.

Prioritize stakeholder engagement

Regularly communicate with all stakeholders, including investors, employees, and customers, to keep them informed of the company's performance and strategies. This can include quarterly earnings calls, annual reports, newsletters, and regular updates on the company website.

Content marketing synergy

To ensure maximum impact of PR initiatives, integrate PR content with broader content marketing strategies. This synergy involves repurposing key PR content—such as thought leadership articles, detailed analysis reports, and white papers—across various marketing channels. For instance, insights from a white paper can be distilled into blog posts, infographics, and social media snippets to enhance SEO and engage different audience segments.

This approach not only extends the reach of PR content but also reinforces the brand's message across multiple platforms, ensuring a consistent narrative that drives lead generation and enhances customer engagement.

Regulatory compliance

In the heavily regulated financial sector, every piece of communication must adhere to strict standards to avoid legal repercussions and maintain public trust. Establish a robust compliance framework that involves close collaboration with legal experts to ensure all PR materials are compliant with the latest regulations.

Before any content is published or distributed, it undergoes a rigorous review process to confirm it meets all regulatory requirements. This process includes checking for adherence to disclosure rules, avoiding misleading information, and ensuring transparency. By prioritizing compliance, PR teams safeguard their clients against potential legal issues and reinforce their reputation as trustworthy and reliable entities in the financial market.

Training and education

Understanding the complexities of Financial PRoducts and markets is crucial for effective communication. To guarantee that the PR team is informed about the latest financial trends, products, and regulatory changes, it is crucial that they receive continual training and education.

This training includes regular sessions with financial experts, attendance at industry conferences, and subscription to leading financial publications.

By incorporating these components into the Financial PR strategy, the agency not only enhances the effectiveness and compliance of its campaigns but also fosters a deeper partnership with clients through education and integrated marketing efforts. This comprehensive approach ensures that PR activities contribute to achieving business objectives while adhering to industry standards and regulations.

Monitor and measure outcomes

Regularly evaluate the effectiveness of PR campaigns and strategies through metrics such as media coverage quality, sentiment analysis, web traffic, and engagement levels. Use these insights to refine strategies and improve future communications.

By partnering with PR professionals, you can tap into their expertise in identifying blog topics that resonate with your industry. Regularly posting such content on your company's website can also boost your website's SEO, enhancing online visibility.

Why hire our specialized financial PR agency?

If you've been persuaded of the benefits of financial services PR but need help getting started, look no further. Joining forces with an expert Financial public relations agency may give you the best chance to make an impact. You need an agency with experience in the finance world and a proven track record of achieving results for companies in the financial realm.

We got our client SBC seen by the relevant journalists they needed to boost their new investment and mentorship program. When we rehauled Volta's company branding and website, traffic doubled, of which 47% of these sessions came from pages or articles written and optimized by ourselves. Trust us. We know what we’re doing.

Understanding the nuances of Financial PR requires a partner with deep industry knowledge and a robust track record. At PRLab, we bring expertise uniquely tailored to the dynamic world of finance, ensuring that our strategies not only comply with stringent regulations but also align perfectly with your business objectives. Our approach integrates seamlessly with your existing operations, making us an extension of your team rather than just an external agency. We specialize in crafting campaigns that resonate deeply within financial communities and regulatory bodies, setting the stage for measurable success and substantial impact in your market presence. Choose PRLab to navigate the complex financial landscape effectively and elevate your company's public profile.

Conclusion

When it comes to financial media relations, investors and customers trust earned media over paid advertising any day. With significantly more chance for a better ROI, investing now in a PR strategy could be the best decision you’ll make this year. It’s a risky game to chance it otherwise.

PRLab empowers your company with our extensive knowledge to help you stand out in the competitive financial landscape. Whether it’s a rebranding, a product launch, or planning crisis responses, find out now how we can help your business.

May 7, 2024
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