PR Niblets

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Practicing PR in Troubled Times … Using Communications to Stave Off the Death Spiral

As Henry mentioned in our first company blog post, we chose to launch our company smack dab in the middle of an economic tsunami. With several clients in the financial services sector, we are approaching communications (ours and theirs) with ample research and plenty of special consideration for the current climate.

The financial markets have never been more volatile. Banks, liquidity venues and broker dealers are all starting to look alike – and sell the same products and services. Mergers and bankruptcies happen every day and the Dow Jones Industrial Average hit its lowest point since 1996 last month.

From a media standpoint, the bar for news has become a pole vault. Each time the North American economy underperforms, it sends spasms through the international markets, making it difficult to get clients in the headlines – unless they are getting indicted!

I am presently working on a whitepaper that examines how financial services firms can effectively practice PR during troubled times. Abandoning your communications campaign is never a good idea – but it’s even more damaging during a bad market. Perception is reality and a company must do everything it can to stay in front of its constituents.

Be thoughtful and proactive in your efforts, make sure you have realistic goals and decide in advance how you are going to measure success. Plan for the long haul and decide how to approach your tactics differently than you would during a boom time. Attend trade shows – but host a hospitality suite with a partner instead of renting out a lavish hotel lobby. Put out press releases - but space them out appropriately and rely heavily on the relationships of your PR counsel for coverage. Conduct analyst tours - but be strategic about who gets an in-person meeting with an expensive flight attached and who gets a phoner.

And, most important of all - don’t expect to see results immediately. It takes a while to steer the Queen Mary with an oar!

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