Having a good public image is important for any business. For professionals, like financial advisors (not to mention doctors, lawyers and accountants) it can mean the difference between success and failure. Being interviewed on television, in a newspaper, or online can go a long way toward establishing an advisor’s reputation as an expert in their field.
A good way to build that credibility is by reaching out to reporters and editors and offering your expertise around financial matters. The fact is that these days of reduced staffing, many reporters and editors are covering multiple beats. Being a reliable resource who can answer their questions and provide the necessary background and context can pay big dividends in future coverage.
Build Media Relationships with Good Communication
A great way to do this is to act as if the reporter is a prospective client that you want to educate about what you do and how you do it. Advisors already know the importance of good communication.
Interview Tip: Focus on the Reporter’s Needs
The most important thing to remember in attempting to build strong relationships with media is that this isn’t about you or your firm—it’s about what the person on the other side of the desk needs. Many people, even reporters, are intimidated by financial topics and embarrassed to admit how little they really know. So, start by trying to make the other person comfortable.
Remember, you’re trying to build a long-term relationship with this person, so try to make it more like a conversation than an interrogation.
Avoid Giving Yes or No Answers to Reporters’ Questions
Be prepared to talk about anything, from rates of return and average compound growth rates to the latest headlines. Expect open-ended questions and always be willing to explain more. There’s nothing worse for a reporter than trying to have a real conversation with someone who only offers yes and no answers.
If you need time to formulate a response, restating the question in your own words (Are you asking if…?) can often give you enough time to come up with an intelligent response.
But don’t be afraid to admit it if you don’t know the answer. The reporter is hoping to tap your expertise, but they don’t expect you to know everything. Compliment the reporter for asking such an insightful question and promise you’ll get back to them with an answer. And then do it.
Pay Attention to Non-Verbal Communication
If it’s an in-person interview, it can be very helpful to keep an eye on the reporter’s nonverbal signals. Here are three signs to look for:
1. Eye Contact
If the reporter is looking into your eyes during the interview, it means they are interested and paying attention. If the other person avoids eye contact or looks away, they might be distracted, feeling uncomfortable or finding it difficult to talk about something.
Posture is also a good indicator of attitude. Keeping arms and legs crossed can be an indicator of hostility and unfriendliness.
3. Body Language
Getting louder and using more hand gestures may indicate that the person’s emotional level is increasing.
An interview is just as likely to take place over the phone as in person and that requires some additional skills.
A Few Final Tips for a Successful Media Interview
Address the reporter by name and do it often. Everyone likes to hear their own name and using it can help establish intimacy. Listen carefully to the questions you’re asked and try to be open and honest in your responses. Above all, be respectful. Don’t interrupt or try to change the subject. Be tactful if you have key messages you want to insert into the conversation.
Money, finance and investing are topics that are intimidating to most people, including reporters. Being a helpful resource who can explain the intricacies of financial topics and help wade through the jargon is something reporters and editors are likely to appreciate.
Help them do their job better and you’re likely to become their expert of choice. And that can go a long way toward building your reputation with current and prospective clients.
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