The rise of the financial PR

In an exclusive Gorkana webinar this week, Maria Darby-Walker, Citigate Dewe Rogerson director,  and Tim Metcalfe, Investor Focus Communications‘ co-founder and MD, explained how the changing business world, and other factors, are evolving and expanding the role and remit of the financial PR.

Maria Darby-Walker

Both financial PR agencies and in-house comms operators have a greater sphere of influence and are involved in more areas than ‘just’ financial PR, reflected Darby-Walker and Metcalfe.

Thanks to the rise of social media and the regulatory and public scrutiny on companies following the financial crisis, comms operators have moved outside their ‘traditional’ media relations remit to take on a number of other responsibilities.

In the webinar, which was moderated by Philip Smith, Gorkana’s head of news and content, the presenters explained how volatility in world markets, political and regulatory pressures and the speed and reach of the 24/7 news cycle have combined to raise the role of the financial communicator.

Three key guidelines for financial PRs, and businesses they work for, as they “face unprecedented change and challenges” were highlighted:

An external perspective is invaluable

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Tim Metcalfe

Small-to-mid cap clients (companies valued at £5m or more) face increasing competition in the capital markets so will often call upon financial PRs to help them differentiate themselves from other quoted businesses, Metcalfe explained. Companies in the financial services sector are heavily regulated so financial PRs can be the “only truly independent adviser for corporates”, he added.

Darby-Walker went on to explain that this independence can allow financial PRs to provide “unemotional” and objective advice at crucial times: “Our role is to challenge organisations and leaders’ behaviour.”

Look ahead to avoid crisis

“Horizon scan to see what is ahead and earn your place at the top table”, urges Darby-Walker. As the recently announced and much-publicised sugar tax and the ensuing uproar from fizzy drink manufacturers goes to prove, regulatory and political pressures can have a material effect on a company’s reputation and its bottom line. As the “glue that holds things together”, Darby-Walker explains, PRs should be identifying potential road-bumps ahead of time and briefing the C-Suite to anticipate these challenges.

Use tone carefully

Financial PRs need to speak analytically and show “business credentials” when advising the C-Suite, advises Darby-Walker. In order to be taken seriously by CEOs, top external communicators should bring their wide-ranging perspective on other companies to bear when speaking with Boards. Flexibility of tone is important, though, as Darby-Walker explains that the “general public is immune to [this kind of] political speak”.

A full list of Gorkana’s upcoming webinars can be found here.

The next Gorkana webinar will discuss ‘Why virtual reality is set to be the latest tool for content and comms’ and features senior comms practitioners from The Cult and Dynamo PR. To be part of this, register here.

Have an avaricious appetite for financial news? Crazy about corporate reputation? Check out our financial PR job vacancies board.

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