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Op-Ed: Financial PR — A new global story

The Financial Times ran a story last week that took a closer look at the evolution of financial PR in the UK and USA.

The article, Financial PR spins a new global story, described how the biggest PR firms are consolidating and in many cases, putting the PR boutique business models under pressure to sell to the global giants. Consolidation deals in the first quarter of 2016 were up 54 percent, according to a source in their story.

As the owner of a PR firm, I am always trying to stay ahead of the trends on where my industry is going and how it is evolving as a business.

The PR industry is quickly evolving into a content-marketing oriented business model that places a larger emphasis in reaching the online reader. If your product or service is not on the first few pages of Google, your business essentially doesn’t exist. But getting your website on the first few pages of the search engines is more than an SEO strategy. It begins with content marketing.

At the same time, clients are also placing a larger emphasis and desire to get their stories told with the largest media publications. These big and smaller brands realize it’s harder to shout their stories above the clutter, while a big story in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, New York Post or any other local newspaper, gets consumers talking about their brand.

So what does this mean for smaller or medium sized companies looking to get on the media’s radar?

PR is not about a big-named firm. It’s about the people behind the strategy and an understanding of the local media market or industry.

Macias PR recently worked with an author from the UK who wanted to promote his book in the USA. While he was successful with his previous book launch in the UK, he didn’t have an understanding of the media market in the USA, and as a result, his narrative with the American media was off.

New York is not London — just like LA is not New York. Each local market is different and must be approached differently based on that market’s culture, news approach and demographic if you want to succeed with prominent media placements.

This approach also applies to industry PR. A reporter with Bloomberg News, CNBC and Fox Business News all appeal to a business audience, but they are vastly different with editorial. A successful media strategy takes this editorial into account when identifying a media strategy.

This FT article also exposed a disturbing trend that is not good for business owners or companies. Multi-nationals and global conglomerates are buying PR firms because they see their value. PWC and McKinsey are now entering the PR market, and while these consultancies might be great at tax law and regulatory matters, the media is neither.

As your business begins looking for a PR firm, take time to research the owners or specialists who will be leading your media campaign. During my time consulting global PR firms, I observed the best sales people sell PR to clients, even though they knew nothing about PR or the media. Google the firm or media specialist, and don’t be deceived by glamorous presentations that showcase a team of 50. It doesn’t take 50 cooks in the kitchen to get a media campaign off the ground. It just takes a strong General who knows what he is doing.

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