Even with summer just upon us, I know I’m not completely alone in my eagerness for football season to start. As we think about how our teams (and tailgate snacks) will stack up this fall, I too think about and compare different organizations’ game plans for PR. It’s usually pretty easy to spot a linebacker from a wide receiver; likewise, it’s clear whether a company views PR as a purely offensive or defensive strategy. While there is no right or wrong method when it comes to financial PR, consider how much more powerful these distinct strategies are when working in unison.
Defensive PR: Blocking Negative Messages
Defensive PR is typically geared toward averting a potential negative situation. Companies that adopt this approach have thought about one or multiple scenarios and how they would impact various audiences, such as their employees and their customers. Often, defensive PR is elevated to crisis communications, or establishing a plan that an organization can instantly set in motion should a situation occur. Especially for financial technology companies, it is vital to determine how the facts around an outage or data breach, for instance, should be communicated – and how that communication must adjust for different constituents.
However, do not let your defensive strategy mask the importance of establishing an ongoing PR campaign. While you’re preparing for a potentially negative scenario to arise, work with your PR council to continually expose and promote the great things going on within your organization. Then, in the event of a crisis or challenge, you’ve already worked to build a stronger brand image and will have positive news for people to reference. The time for an offense to put in the effort is not when the team is down by three touchdowns; in the same vein, don’t wait to start an offensive PR strategy until after a crisis.
Offensive PR: Creating a Game Plan
Offensive PR entails proactively sharing a FinTech organization’s offerings and milestones. A successful offensive strategy involves two major elements: 1.) Consistency. An offensive campaign must be an ongoing campaign, demonstrating a company’s momentum and success over time. 2.) An understanding of the media’s needs. Simply touting what your company and its services offer will not resonate with influential financial editors and reporters. They need actual sources to comment on actual industry issues and trends. Identify the right sources who can accommodate this need, either internal subject matter experts who can speak to distinct financial industry matters, or even better – your customers. The most effective offensive PR occurs when a company can enlist its customers to participate in a webinar or a media interview, for example, and discuss their first-hand experiences. That’s the story editors, reporters and your prospects truly want to hear.
FinTech Organizations that maintain a constant PR campaign should also consider adding a defensive strategy. Whether you are anticipating a potential crisis or simply crafting a few statements in advance of a prospective technology glitch, having a defensive posture to some degree is wise for any company.
A football team needs both its defense and its offense – each side brings distinct skills and specializations the other simply cannot offer. A PR campaign too needs its offense and its defense – a defensive game plan to ensure confidence in the leadership and one another should a challenge arise; and offensively, continual preparation and commitment to building a stellar program capable of weathering any storm. Trusted PR counsel can be instrumental in helping a FinTech company create that well-rounded campaign as well as lead the execution of any offensive and defensive tactics as they’re needed to both support and protect the brand you’ve built.