Good Banking PR Doesn’t Take An Oversized Check

Blog, Boelter + Lincoln, Banking, Public Relations, Financial

“Can you take a photo of us handing over a $500 check to a local charity?”

It was one of the most annoying calls I ever took as a newspaper reporter. Don’t get me wrong, donating to worthwhile causes is great. But calling local media to come take a “grip ‘n grin” photo isn’t good PR.

In a world based on numbers and ROI, I understand why so many of those calls came from local banks and credit unions. Determining the value of marketing (and specifically, public relations) isn’t easy. And therefore, many marketing budgets in the financial industry are less than 0.1% of a bank’s assets with PR making up a much, much smaller percentage.

Short of significantly boosting that budget, there are a few ways FIs can use their existing budgets more effectively. Ways of earning media coverage is changing from the old days of writing up and sending out press releases for every new hire or quarterly earnings report. In an age when media outlets are drying up and new owned media channels are increasing, content marketing has emerged as an essential public relations tool.

Content marketing is a cost-effective way to differentiate one FI from another. Consider that one of the most ubiquitous comments from a 3-year Viacom study from millennials – the largest age demographic in the history of the world – was “I don’t see a difference between my bank and all the others.”

Through content marketing, FIs have a variety of opportunities to share their own stories and insights. In other words – separate yourself from others. Tell the company story on a page of the website. Host a blog (maybe even a video blog) that delves into financial trends and provides good advice for consumers. Use social media regularly. Be sure to maintain the brand’s voice throughout these channels and use them consistently.

And while the medium itself is important, it’s critical to remember that content is still king. Start by developing and documenting a strategy and make sure blogs and posts are providing good information that can be shared. So unless the dollar amount of the donation starts with a ‘B,’ don’t go calling the local newspaper for a photo.