What is Financial PR?
20 October 2016
Author: Niall Walsh
Financial and corporate PR is an industry which has received its fair share of negative press, and is sometimes the subject of sneering remarks surrounding ‘spin’ or ‘puff’. It is also, however, undeniably effective when done well. We live in an era where public information can fly farther and faster than ever before, and so the way in which individuals and companies construct and communicate their message is incredibly, and increasingly, important.
That said, and particularly in the corporate and financial sphere, PR is a discipline which is often misunderstood. When first interviewed for an internship I was asked what I knew about the details of the role and answered honestly: nothing. That may seem like a high-risk response, but it was the truth. This didn’t mean I wasn’t willing to learn, but simply that I had little understanding of the day-to-day workings of a financial PR practitioner.
So what is it exactly that a financial PR company does? On a fundamental level we act as advocates for our clients, providing counsel on any number of issues ranging from reputation management and improvement through to M&A transactions and IPOs, before communicating that message to key audiences. Constructing and then executing a campaign for a client can be incredibly rewarding, as you develop an intimate knowledge of their business and ultimately speak with their voice.
Our role as independent advisors means we often engage with senior management teams directly, acting as a sounding board to Chief Executives or Heads of Communications on how to position their story to best effect.
Rather than a rigid qualification system, an ability to think quickly and critically is of paramount importance. You may not always have a huge amount of time to respond to a given situation or enquiry, and so keeping a level head when identifying the facts and key messages which should inform any response is vital.
It is not surprising that PR advisors come from such a variety of backgrounds. As a politics graduate I work alongside a menagerie of ex lawyers, bankers and accountants, as well as many colleagues with degrees ranging from languages or history to astrophysics. Each brings something different to our clients but their contributions are equally valuable, as there is very rarely only one answer or approach to a problem.
Financial and corporate PR is varied, demanding and complex. It offers an opportunity to think creatively and engage with financial markets on a daily basis, providing advice to senior level management which can materially affect their business.
Whilst is doubtful that anyone grows up with a burning desire to work in financial PR (despite the vocal assurances of a graduate I once interviewed) the best opportunities are sometimes those we didn’t even know existed. This may not have been a job I ever envisaged, but it’s now the only one I can imagine doing.