In a fast-moving world of social media and online marketing, press releases may seem like a decidedly old-fashioned tool. But press releases are still a valuable way for financial advisors to promote themselves and their firm, provided they go about it the right way.
Why Write a Press Release
There are several reasons a financial advisor might want to write a press release. The first is obvious: You want to let the media know some news about you or your firm. In this case, the ultimate goal is to have a journalist pick up your press release and then write a story about you and your firm.
The reality, however, is that few journalists turn to press releases for story ideas. So why bother sending a release at all? While a reporter might not write a story based on your release, sending it does get your name in front of them. If you’re lucky, he or she will file the press release or your contact information for future use. Then, in a few weeks or months, when they are looking for a source for a story, they may contact you.
Another reason to issue press releases is to boost search engine optimization. A well-written press release distributed in the right ways (e.g., via social media) can help drive traffic to your site, even if the release is never picked up by traditional media outlets.
Whatever goals you hope to achieve with your press release, the principles you need to keep in mind when writing it are the same.
The Five W’s
Your press release should be written as if it were an actual news story. Keep the five w’s—the key elements of a news story—in mind as you write your press release:
- Who: This is probably your firm, or perhaps a specific staff member.
- What: Explain what happened (or will happen) that made you decide to write a press release.
- Where: Tell the reader where the event will take place (or where it happened).
- When: Tell the reader when it happened.
- Why: Explain why a reader should care about this news.
What Else to Include
Your press release should also include:
- A great headline: Craft an attention-grabbing headline. When possible, include keywords for search engine optimization.
- Quotes: Include one or more quotes in the press release. The quotes should sound real and conversational while including additional information that’s not elsewhere in the release.
- Contact information: Tell journalists how to contact you if they have questions.
What Not to Do
There are also a few things to avoid when writing your press release:
- The hard sell: Your press release should be neutral and informative, not an advertisement. Save the sales pitch for your website and marketing collateral.
- Stale, old news: Sending out a press release days or weeks after an event has occurred is a waste of time. For example, if you sponsored or hosted an event that you want people to know about, prepare the release in advance and send it out immediately afterward. Better yet, distribute a press release prior to the event and invite journalists to attend.
- Non-news: Make sure your news is actually newsworthy. Remember, things that are exciting to you—or even your clients—might not be interesting to others. Your firm’s new website or the fact that you spoke at an industry conference doesn’t merit a press release. Ask yourself, “Why would anyone care about this?” If you can’t come up with an answer, you don’t need a press release. In those cases, an email blast to clients or a quick post on social media may be a better way to get the word out.
Distributing Your Press Release
The best way to distribute your press release depends on your goals. There are relatively affordable online distribution systems (such as PRWeb) that allow you to blast your release to journalists and major websites for a one-time fee. Building relationships with journalists (such as business reporters at your local paper) can increase the likelihood that your release will generate interest, as can having a robust social media network of people who are excited to share your content.
Most important, be realistic. Press releases are just one small part of a comprehensive public relations strategy. A single release isn’t likely to lead to a news story, much less an appearance on a magazine cover or CNBC. If you are truly interested in boosting your firm’s profile via the media, you’ll need to invest in a serious PR campaign, which will most likely involve hiring a public relations firm that has the contacts, expertise and time to get your name out there. In the meantime, consider press releases as one small way to let people know about your firm.