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Public Relations: It Looked So Easy

Gradient has helped our advisors get over 300 media appearances in the past 2 years. Our internal team has been featured on Fox Business News, Forbes, radio shows, and industry trade publications, and has focused hours and thousands of dollars towards our Gradient PR campaign. In my experience, public relations is not cheap, it’s not easy, but it is VERY, VERY effective!

A public relations campaign is a great way to position yourself as a true expert in your community. Generating PR for you and your practice isn’t something that will make your phone ring instantly. But it is something that will help build your trust and credibility with prospects and clients alike. There are 3 ways to generate PR.

Do the Leg Work
This is for the advisors that have more time than money. The media will not track you down and ask you for the story, but if you are motivated and consistent in your PR approach, I can promise you will see results. There are no specific steps to this. You have to figure out your own market, and it’s different for every advisor.

The first question you must answer is what to send to media outlets. You’ll need to formulate a press release every month. Press releases are typically 200 – 400 words that cover the story on whatever topic you want to feature. It can be anything from how to deduct annuity losses on your tax return to a new employee or award your practice won. The key here is to stay as relevant as possible to today’s hottest topics. Roth conversions are old news in the media. But writing something on the rising oil prices and how that might affect the average retiree might be something they’re more likely to pick up.

Next is who to send it to. Building a targeted media list is an invaluable tool for most businesses. The best way to build your list is to carefully watch and track media publications and shows that reach your target market, and to identify reporters and producers in your area who would be interested in your story.

Do Something Good
Community outreach is hands-down one of the most effective ways of generating positive PR. You may not make the news talking about the benefits of FIAs or stretch IRAs but you have to remember, being on TV means you are forever: “As seen on KSTP.” This is also a great way to start seminars or appointments, by letting clients know your involvement in giving back to your community. You may still need to notify the press about your involvement, but I can assure you, the press will typically run stories like this more often than someone pitching their business. Don’t feel bad promoting your good deeds either; remember, whomever Coca-Cola gives that 3-foot check to can’t actually cash it: They are using that for PR. The one thing I will caution you about is this: make sure you are doing your community outreach or charity work for the right reasons. If you are getting involved in outreach just to gain PR, this is not the approach for you.

Cut the Check
If you want to choose the subjects, and you don’t want to chase down the press yourself, let your checkbook do it. PR firms specialize in pitching stories and creating a buzz. They also have long-standing relationships with the media and know the quirks and expectations of each producer/editor.

Here is what you can expect from a good PR firm. They will have you sign a contract and, typically, guarantees are hard to come by. You can’t just write a check and appear on Fox Business next week. They’ll typically start you off with online articles or radio shows to begin building your PR portfolio. From there, you’ll generally need 3 – 5 local TV appearances (this may require media training) before you can take your highlight reel to national TV.

However you choose to go about your PR approach will be unique to each advisor. I can promise you that if you commit, stay consistent, and become friendly with the media, you will be effective in the PR game.
The last piece of advice I’ll leave you with is a little depressing but true. No one saw you on TV, read about you in the paper, or heard you on the radio. Even after all this work you have put into your PR spot, you’ll still need to create seminar handouts, send letters to clients, and feature this all on your website. Remember, in the era of the “long tail,” a media appearance doesn’t just generate a one-time, short-term benefit. A positive media appearance is something that stays with you forever!

About Brian Lucius

Brian Lucius
Brian Lucius is the president of Gradient Positioning Systems, the creative and design firm for Gradient, partnered with all the Gradient family of companies. He started his financial services career in sales and marketing with a leading Allianz-owned field marketing organization. You can contact him at 800-407-4137, or via his company Web site at

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