If you work in finance PR or have clients in the sector, ensuring you’re a useful asset to journalists is a worthwhile investment.
Whether personal finance, private equity, corporate tax, insurance or the continuing impact of COVID-19 on consumers is your bag, check out the following advice from financial journalists at the BBC, Daily Express, woman & home and other national and regional titles to make sure what you’re sharing is valuable.
1) Make your key facts clear for the journalist
‘Minimise jargon. And for those of us who are general business journalists, you could give a useful reminder at the bottom of a release of what the key jargon means (I’ll need to be reminded why I should care about MiFID II).
‘If you’re pitching with an eye-catching survey result, save me some time and tell me about your methodology: size of sample, was it self-selecting, when, in which parts of the country, carried out by…?’
Douglas Fraser, business and economy editor for BBC Scotland
2) COVID-19 continues to be a hot button topic
‘It’s very hard for any subject that isn’t about COVID-19 to get a hearing right now. Almost every article I write has coronavirus as a backdrop. Fluffy consumer press releases get short shrift. Unless, of course, they are examining consumer attitudes to you-know-what, such as how people are spending (or not spending) during the crisis.
‘Of course, there is the danger of overkill, and at some point the topic will become less urgent (I hope), but that’s how things stand for now.
‘I feel the key role of a personal finance journalist right now is to explain the practical impact the crisis is having on readers’ pensions, savings, incomes, insurance, mortgages and so on. Reactive comment to Government rule changes as we move into easing will also come in handy, helping us to pass on advice from the experts.
‘Smart press releases with expert comment that are more than a company plug (I don’t do product news) are welcome at any time.’
Harvey Jones, personal finance editor at the Daily Express
3) Practical stats will be more valuable than theoreticals
‘I would always rather use data on what people have actually done, rather than what they might be willing to do in future e.g. 30% have stopped pension payments rather than 30% are considering paying less into their pensions this year.
‘Practical comments, explaining what people should do, are always more helpful than spokespeople saying “I agree with government plans to…”
‘Finally, I prefer releases/info/commentary relevant to the content and audiences I cover, so do think about targeting your content. I specialise in personal finance, including a monthly column of money-saving tips for Woman&Home magazine and my blog, Much More With Less. I’m never going to cover the far reaches of cryptocurrency, CBD oil, plastic surgery and luxury yachts (just a few examples of releases I’ve received recently!). However, I’d be delighted to receive angles on money matters relevant to 50+ women.’
Faith Archer, financial columnist at woman & home
4) Target the right data to the right journalist
‘A good press release should look like a news article. Subject line should get straight to the point and be clear what the story is. Ideally, the email will have a couple of bullet points up top summing up the main topics in the release. If the PR has the data, tailoring these for sector journalists will likely yield more results.
‘On the negative side, I really don’t like the new trend for clickbait subject lines to try and trick you into opening the mail. What’s more, following up on an email with a phone call or another email (unless it’s being sent again after embargo) really just takes up people’s time. I appreciate some agencies have targets on the number of journalists they need to contact, but it just sours the relationship.’
Damian Clarkson, editor of loveMONEY
5) If your pitch is relevant, the journalist will consider it
‘I have no problem being sent finance-related content but I don’t always have the time or opportunity to respond. I often feel quite guilty about this as I understand what goes in to making a decent pitch.
‘However, provided an email appears relevant, then I’ll always read it and if I believe we can do something with it, will get in touch. Conversely, if the subject matter starts to include all manner of topics, I’m less likely to open it – and future emails, too.
‘As I’ve run my own business for several decades, I’m always interested in speaking with people looking to expand their presence in the personal finance sphere, especially in print. In my experience, this is often a productive aspect (for both parties) of relevant pitches.’
Peter Sharkey, finance columnist for the Eastern Daily Press (EDP)
6) Save the features list (and details of what you’re offering)
‘Have an idea of the publication you are pitching a story to. What do they cover? Just look at their website and do some homework. Some look at our editorial calendar and offer comments for our stories, since we do not accept bylined articles unless specifically assigned to our writers. Some homework is necessary.
‘Finally, if you pitch an event, a Zoom conference call or something similar, make sure we understand who you and your organisation are. Do not take it for granted! The new pitches landscape is filled with 20 hours a day of potential webinars, webcasts and so on. We choose some, just a few, based on content, quality of speakers and the organisation sponsoring it.’
Andrea Fiano, editor of Global Finance
7) Offer a greater breadth of data (geography, gender, etc.)
‘Always ask for the feature subject list and, armed with that, offer relevant stats/products/quotes.
‘Work up case studies and pics. They really help to create a feature. Make the case studies as geographically spread as possible and ensure at least half are female (as finance tends to be such a male-orientated subject).
‘Where possible, have some interesting non-UK info to place the UK in context, particularly the G7 and EU.’
Conal R Gregory MW, personal finance editor for the Yorkshire Post
Do your research to pitch the right content to the right contacts with the Vuelio Media Database.