Thirty years ago, when our agency was founded, no one could tell you what the full impact of the Internet would be for marketers. At the time, publications like Forbes, Fortune, Time and Life conferred credibility and projected thought leadership for industry leaders, pop culture titans and newsmakers from around the country and world. When a company or brand was ready to tell its story, it thought more in terms of campaigns focused on how it wanted to deliver their story and less about how people received the information. After all, the channels were few and information was not as easily accessible.
Today, the Internet has proven to be a revolutionary factor in how marketers approach their jobs. The face of media has changed, with some old-school mastheads like the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times managing to remain relevant while many others have shuttered their operations. Just look around and you’ll note that names like BuzzFeed and Business Insider have already put previous media giants like Life and Money in the rearview. Marketers have to imagine new ways to reach audiences by dialing back direct mail campaigns and conceiving ideas like brand takeovers of The Skimm or Morning Brew email news bulletins. Change is constant and the pace of that change is only accelerating.
|This article is featured in O'Dwyer's Aug. '19 Financial PR/IR & Prof. Svcs. PR Magazine.|
What can marketers count on as they set the table for 2020 and beyond? Here are three truths that matter today:
Brands need to be broadcasters, not just publishers. It seems that just as financial brands were getting into the swing of things with content publishing and applying metrics to blog distribution, the video content beast splashed into the picture and made much of that content feel diminished in relevance, if not obsolete for some consumers. The ubiquity of the Internet hasn’t only caused this development but has also forced companies to meet the demand. Creating thoughtful video doesn’t have to be costly or time-consuming. Nor does it need to sacrifice quality. Some agencies, like ours, have developed responsive video content programs to meet audiences where they are.
Campaigns are still relevant, but one-offs can be just as impactful. Financial marketers looking to engage their buying audience—whether it’s composed of financial intermediaries like advisors, or the general consumer public—need to realize that information-gathering is more fragmented than ever due to the proliferation of venues that provide information for people to consume. What matters more than the efficacy of an ongoing campaign is the individual merits of each piece of content, communication and visual or video your team produces in support of its products and services. If communicators and marketers fall victim to the “more is more” approach, without concern for quality, the overall impact of their storytelling efforts is likely to diminish.
Content is king and distribution is queen, but third-party credibility remains the knight in shining armor for communicators. There’s no longer any question that ascendant brands need to develop content. But getting that content into the hands of the right audience is just as important. For those in the financial marketing and PR realm, the inescapable truth is that trust, visibility and credibility remain essential for the success of promoting a financial institution and its products and services. Consistent media coverage can breed familiarity for buyers and centers of influence. It can also serve to bolster your search engine presence and provide quality, shareable content for your social media efforts. Most importantly, strong press recognition lends credibility with buying audiences that place a premium on trust. So, yes, the media landscape has shifted, but this change hasn’t undercut the influence media can have on how your company is perceived.
As we approach the third decade of the 21st century, marketers can appreciate that there have never been more varied and extensive opportunities to reach their intended audiences. The flipside is that the sheer volume of messaging today’s audiences have access to can make it more challenging for your brand to stand out. Although content published through owned channels can reach people who already compose your current network, a well-defined public relations strategy is vital to engage with those coveted consumers who aren’t yet part of your core audience.
Joe Anthony is President of Financial Services at Gregory FCA, a full-service, strategically integrated public relations firm headquartered in suburban Philadelphia.