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What’s the point of PR?

Advisers don’t need to employ PR but it can be a real differentiator if they do, says Dominic Hiatt, chief executive of Just In Time PR

I’ll be honest with you, advisers don’t need PR at all. Now this is hardly what you were expecting to hear in an article that is meant to promote the benefits of PR, I’m sure – but it’s true.

The reality is that many financial advisory firms over the years have survived, and have done quite well, without any PR whatsoever (by PR I mean positive media publicity).

Instead, their business will have come through marketing, partnerships and, if they’re doing anything decent, referrals.

In fact, most of our own work comes through referrals. Very little of it has come through PR-ing our own business.

Another reason not to do PR is that it isn’t really there to generate business and drive sales. Even if you’re a pensions expert and get quoted on
the front page of the Financial Times, or Daily Telegraph talking about auto-enrolment, the phone is unlikely to ring.

OK, it might ring and sometimes it does ring, but you certainly shouldn’t bet on the damn thing ringing. PR does not exist, and should not be relied on, to drive leads. It can do that, but usually it won’t.

What can PR do?

But just because PR isn’t necessary to a business, and doesn’t directly drive leads, doesn’t mean a business shouldn’t use it. Because there is one thing that PR can do that no amount of marketing, online or off, could ever do: generate instant, and unrivalled, credibility for your brand.

Paying for an ad, running an email campaign, advertising on Google can raise awareness and drive leads, for sure.

But what these things can never do is make you and your company trustworthy as a brand. And that’s what PR can do effortlessly.

When people see you and your company giving your views on some financial matter or other in the media, whether local or national, they believe you are an expert. They believe instantly that you and your firm know what you are on about.

Whatever you say about the media, and the industry has had its fair share of knocks in recent years, when people see a financial adviser being quoted in the money pages of a national newspaper or on a top personal finance website, or hear them talking about investments on the radio or TV, they immediately rank that person and company in a favourable light.

After all, if they didn’t know what they were on about, why would the journalists be speaking to them about that story in the first place? It really is as simple as that.


Why do you think the bigger IFA firms spend so much money on PR and have in-house teams full of media tarts who crop up left, right and centre in the money pages (I know, isn’t it painful to see?). It’s because they know that this constant deluge of media coverage is doing their brands no end of good. As well as raising awareness of their company and their products, it is setting them apart, and differentiating them from the competition.

And they make the most of their media coverage, too – adding it to their websites, placing newspaper logos on their homepages, emailing it to their clients. They’re thinking credibility, credibility, credibility.

So, while PR may not result in the phone ringing it can mean that when people do get around to sorting out their finances, or taking out a pension, or investing in a unit trust, they do so through one of the firms that they see giving their views in the papers and online all the time – firms they already feel comfortable with.

And in the world of financial services, people feeling comfortable about their choice of adviser is a very big thing.

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