Mary Poliakova is a global PR consultant, co-founder and COO of a London-based PR agency Drofa Comms.
Samantha Jones from “Sex and the City,” Alexis Rose from “Schitt’s Creek,” Olivia Pope from “Scandal” – what’s the common thread binding these cherished TV personas? You guessed it right. They all worked as publicists or communications specialists. However, financial public relations professionals are notably absent from this list. Why? Well, financial PR doesn’t carry the same allure and glamor among entertainment folks.
On the one hand, financial PR is very niche and does differ from entertainment, fashion or beauty PR, and other industries. Yet, although financial PR seems very scary and out of reach at first glance, it utilizes the same tools and has no less networking involved – only we hang out with investors, traders, and venture capitalists events rather than with designers and beauty gurus at a product launch party. What I’m getting at is that, initially, financial PR might appear intimidating. However, I want to reassure you that stepping into this field is not as daunting or challenging as it may seem. Let’s see what sets financial PR apart and what practical habits will push you forward – no matter if you’re planning a specialization transition or a total career pivot.
What makes the world go round
Simply put, financial PR is about communicating complex financial information to a range of stakeholders. Unlike entertainment or fashion PR, it navigates intricate regulatory landscapes, conveying critical data to investors, analysts, and the general public. This demands a deep understanding of financial markets, regulations, and the ability to translate technical jargon into clear, accessible messaging. Still interested? Then, to make things easier for aspiring financial PR pros, I gathered five practical tips on how to start your career journey and succeed:
Hit the books
A finance degree isn’t a must for financial PR. I stepped into financial journalism 15 years ago without a finance background. Yet, my initial action was to pass a three-month course on “financial market basics” at a brokerage house. Needless to say, it was the best decision I’ve made in that position. That lesson stuck with me and influenced our agency’s approach. We have employees from diverse backgrounds, with or without prior finance experience. No matter the background, new team members take our finance course in the first two weeks of onboarding. It’s a practice that’s proven effective and inclusive, nurturing skills regardless of past financial expertise.
Navigate the news flow like crazy
Market volatility can stir concerns among investors, causing stocks to experience rapid fluctuations. In such moments, adept navigation and flexibility are imperative. A readily accessible life hack is leveraging a macroeconomic events calendar. This proactive tool enables preparation ahead of time — drafting press releases or insightful commentary in anticipation of market declines or surges. It helps craft impactful content and breaking news but also equips you to promptly address journalists’ inquiries about your company’s stock performance.
Always keep in mind the regulators
Numbers speak louder than words, particularly in the realm of finance. Delving into financial PR entails understanding diverse regulatory landscapes across countries. Take, for instance, the intricacies surrounding PR for a company embarking on an IPO. It becomes crucial to discern the occasions when and which information can become public. Similarly, companies that already have traded shares must follow strict guidelines for revealing financial data, including the specifics of timing, recipients, and sequence.
Know your numbers
In finance, guesswork and opinions without solid numbers fall short. Convincing arguments must be rooted in concrete figures. Mastering data journalism techniques in PR is a bonus for you. Again, you don’t need specialized education; the world of numbers operates on logic and clarity. From my experience, finance and numbers prove seamless to work with. Why? Numbers and analytics transcend politics and subjectivity, offering a reliable touchstone. Proficiency in handling figures is the key to success in financial PR. When exact earnings can’t be disclosed due to NDA or compliance, leverage percentage indicators. For instance, replace “the company earned $200 million this year” with “the company’s revenue increased by 130%.” Feel the difference. This approach aligns with Kahneman’s insights and is well-explored in his work “Thinking, Fast and Slow” – a recommended read.
Embrace business and finance as your hobby
If the realm of finance and numbers doesn’t intrigue or captivate you, then even exceptional professionalism in communications won’t help you master financial PR. The secret I’ve learned as a PR lead, you need to have an interest in business and finance to succeed in this field. My colleagues come from various backgrounds – IT, education, and even the arts – now working with tier-1 media outlets and specializing in quarterly and annual statistics from leading finance firms. Previous experience in PR from another sector isn’t the decisive factor; your eagerness and drive to understand finance will chart your path toward your goal.
The tips above have proven effective to many top-notch professionals in financial PR, myself included. The critical aspect for aspiring communications pros is embracing change — whether it entails transitioning from a different PR niche or commencing financial PR afresh — and being open to new, exciting challenges.