You can be the best financial advisor in the world but if people don't know you're there, they'll miss out -- and so will you. And when people do find you, either through a referral or targeted marketing strategy, how are they likely to respond? Do you really stand out as the most credible resource when prospective clients and strategic partners ask others for their opinion of you, inquire about your firm’s services, or look you up online?

Smart advisors know that they've got to be visible and credible - both online and in the real world - if they want to survive and thrive. This was my essential message when I addressed a group of independent advisors at Securities America’s 2011 Connect! Conference just a few weeks ago. In the coming weeks, I’ll share some of the highlights from that presentation so that you, too, can benefit from my 23 years of experience working with journalists, and helping independent financial advisors and allied institutions build share of mind and boost credibility factors.

No Magic Fairy Dust Required

Everyone knows that publicity is wonderful when you can get it. But far too many advisors think there is some sort of magic needed to get their name in print or to be interviewed on television or radio. While you could hire a PR firm and use their professional insights and connections to launch your Credibility Marketing campaign, the truth is, with a little training and focused effort you are likely to get some good traction on your own.

If you'd rather do-it-yourself or can't afford to hire a PR firm, this public relations primer and related future articles will show you how.  And if you're going to hire a PR firm, reading this series will help you understand how to get more mileage out of your working relationship -- and your PR dollars.

PR Does Not Stand for Press Release

It's important for you to understand just what publicity is, and isn't. Public relations is a strategic form of communication used to obtain positive exposure for your company and keep key media contacts and the public informed. While press releases are still an important part of any public relations effort, PR is much, much more.

PR includes media interviews, articles placed with your byline in targeted publications, speaking engagements and related promotions, radio and television appearances, public service announcements and visibility through community events (which often includes some sort of media promotion). It involves developing a key message that differentiates you from your competition and selecting the mix of tactics that will get your message to the marketplace with the most impact. It includes knowing your “aces” -- the three key talking points that clearly articulate your value proposition in compelling, concise phrases using colorful words that conjure up an immediate visual image in the reader’s or listener’s mind.

It can be helped or undermined by what people see when they intentionally look you up online or simply stumble upon your brand due to a keyword search. And, the truth of the matter is, many journalists now go online to do their own story research and look for new sources versus calling old sources or PR firms for ideas. Journalists who write for consumer-focused personal finance outlets also go online to read what other journalists are covering, sometimes getting ideas and sources for their stories by reading industry publications such as the Journal of Financial Planning, Investment News, On Wall Street, Bank Investment Consultant or Financial Planning magazine.

Journalists may even be inspired by a well-written blog or Twitter stream, a news release you’ve self-published on your website or placed on one of the online search-engine-optimized services such as PR Newswire. This is why it is so important to have a strong online presence, one that’s rich with information and full of credibility factors such as being quoted in reputable publications, being the author of a book or professionally written white paper, writing a column for an big-name blog such as or, etc.

Bottom line: Public relations is about creating "buzz" by promoting and positively positioning your company so that potential clients are inclined to seek your services when a "triggering event" occurs. It’s building reputation and top of mind awareness. It’s positioning yourself as a thought-leader and others-centered professional.

By providing information to consumers directly via speaking events, webinars and podcasts that you produce or through trusted third parties such as your local newspaper, online media outlet or television station, PR is a cost-effective marketing effort that has a big payoff: It can skyrocket your credibility and bring new visibility to you and your firm.

Examples of Peers Who Do PR Right

Wondering how this all comes together to create the “wow factor” online? Google the following people (just copy and paste the string of keywords into your Google search box) and skim the headlines and related URLs on the first 2-3 pages when the Google search pops up. I’m sure you will be impressed with what you see – and, frankly, these are some of the peers with whom you might be competing for business. How do you compare?


·      Scott Hanson Pat McClain Hanson McClain Financial Advisors Retirement Network

·      Michael Kay Financial Focus Advisor Business of Life Author

·      Brett Ellen American Financial Network Kids Finance Coach

·      Robert Lindner Investment Management Lindner Capital Advisors

·      Geoff Davey Finametrica Risk Tolerance

·      John Brackett Bar Financial Network

·      Dave Hubbard Financial Network

·      Sheryl Garrett Planning Network

·      Jack Coneally Financial Investments

Tune in next Monday, when I’ll explain the differences between “Push” and “Pull” marketing and drill deeper into the Power of PR and why you should add it to your marketing plan.

As president and CEO of Impact Communications, Inc., Marie leads a dedicated team of marketing communications and PR professionals serving financial institutions and a select group of independent advisors on an exclusive basis. Marie resides in Leawood, KS and can be reached through her website, For breaking news, follow @marieswift on Twitter -