Gemma Flinders, Senior PR Account Manager at Receptional
Nailing digital PR isn’t easy. But when you’re in a “red tape” sector like finance, overcoming the hurdles towards a top-notch strategy can seem impossible. On one hand, your online competition is fierce – from high street banks and price comparison sites to asset management services. On the other, any campaign ideas you have can be shut down by compliance and regulations.
In spite of these hurdles, more and more financial institutions are recognising PR’s importance in executing a top-notch digital marketing strategy. According to our research, 69% of Digital Marketing Managers in financial services are prioritising budgets for digital PR in 2020. And so they should – with careful planning and execution, digital PR can yield a fantastic return on investment (ROI).
However, 50% of those we interviewed admitted to lacking the internal skills and knowledge required.
At Receptional, it’s taken us years to build our digital PR offering from the ground up. Now, we feel confident enough to share our framework for success. Based on our experience executing award-winning campaigns in this difficult sector, here’s how finance businesses can effectively use digital PR to smash their competition.
1. Take Time to Understand Your Target Audience
A successful digital PR campaign needs a target audience. If nobody’s going to view it, what’s the point in creating it? To do this, you need to evaluate where your target audience are and what’s appealing to them.
Avenues for gauging you audience could be:
Job Titles – For example, if you’re running a PR campaign targeted at CEOs, ensure you’re actually relating to them in your content. This is especially useful for social media targeting on platforms like LinkedIn as you can filter your target audience by job title.
Content Types They Engage With – Which of your content formats generates the most engagement – a press release, video animation? Or, have any of your competitors used a content format that’s landed really well? Getting the content format right can make all the difference to a PR campaign.
Influential Advertising Channels – Analyse where exactly your audience spends most of their time. Is it reading your email newsletters, commenting on your social media posts or viewing video campaigns? This will help promote your campaign on the right channels.
There are also some handy tools to research your audience further. Two of our favorites are:
Answer The Public: features real questions that people ask search engines, e.g. “which banking investment solution is right for me”? This helps to find topics that address your audience’s key concerns.
You can also find related terms to search queries. For example, after a search for “asset management” on Answer the Public, one of the related terms “asset management market study” could be a great study for a PR campaign.
Buzzsumo: unlocks data on the actual content your audience is engaging with, what social channels it’s being shared across and how recently. If a particular piece of content is receiving a lot of interest, it’s a sign that your target audience wants to know more.
After a search for “business finance management” one article on integrated business and personal finance has received 3.8K total engagement. Possible PR campaigns could look into the future of business finance tech or what businesses value as the post important asset when looking into finance management.
2. Make Idea Generation Easier
Any successful digital PR campaign starts with a solid idea – one that’s really going to resonate with your target audience. However, generating these ideas doesn’t need to be a painstakingly difficult task, there are some easy ways to cut corners.
Following industry trends and updates is one of the quickest and easiest ways to generate PR campaign ideas. Developments in the financial space happen daily, so keeping on top of these will keep your campaign ideas flowing.
Image source – https://www.google.co.uk/alerts#
Set up Google Alerts for industry-related search terms, competitors and key thought leaders in the financial space. This way, you can quickly react to emerging trends, upcoming events or hot topics that could be leveraged, hijacked or piggybacked for your own PR. Knowing an industry update as soon as it hits the headlines will also allow you to respond quickly and produce content when it’s likelier to be picked up.
You can make things even easier by setting up information requests from journalists or publications. ResponseSource allows you to receive these requests in real-time from different sectors directly into your inbox. This’ll save you time in coming up with an idea – all you need to do is present your content in a creative, engaging way!
3. Will Your Idea Actually Work?
There is no point investing time and resources into PR campaigns that aren’t going to take off or yield any results. Our team must confidently answer these five questions to sense-check a campaign idea. If we can’t, the idea will be refined or scrapped if there’s no chance of it working:
- Why this campaign?
Justification is key to getting a PR campaign up and running. Consider what this campaign could achieve for your business and why it stands above any other ideas.
- Is this campaign practical?
Having a really extravagant PR idea is fantastic – IF you have the resources to make it happen. We already know that 50% of the digital marketing managers in the finance sector lack the in-house resources to pull off digital PR, so any ideas you have need to be achievable.
- Does it tie in with your brand?
The main goal of digital PR is to promote your brand and your offering. But to do this, it needs to be relevant your products or services. Use PR campaigns to establish your business as thought leaders in your industry and the best on the market. Don’t try to cross over into territory you have little experience in.
- Is it newsworthy?
For example, if headlines revealed there’s been a surge in consumers using independent businesses, you could do a research piece around asking consumers why they prefer shopping small. However, be sure your idea hasn’t already been covered already – publications will very rarely share the same campaign twice.
- Who will be interested?
If you’re dedicating lots of time, resources and budget into a PR campaign, you need to know if it’ll appeal to your target audience. Look over the research you gathered from your audience tools, e.g. does a question relevant to your idea keep popping up on Answer The Public? If you can’t find any interest, your idea needs reworking.
4. Structure Your Campaigns for Success – ‘The Three Pillars’
Even if you’ve justified why you’ve chosen a campaign idea, it could still fall flat if you haven’t actually considered its framework. Whether you’re trying to push your brand name, increase search rankings or enquires, how is the campaign actually going to achieve its main goal? Remember, good PR isn’t created just to be newsworthy, it’s there to fulfil a purpose within your marketing strategy.
According to Moz, the top-ranking factors for 2019 were landing page content, linking sites and internal links. Based on these findings, we split our digital PR campaigns into three pillars. This allows us to plan exactly how our campaigns will look from start to finish:
This is an asset that can generate links without being too promotional or salesy. It also adds credibility to your content campaign. For example, if you ran a survey evaluating how satisfied consumers are with their banks, a dedicated landing page sharing the data would put your brand as the face of the research.
Be sure to link this as your main resource in any content you produce off the back of your campaign, e.g. exclusive articles, infographics, video animations to push your landing page even further.
From our experience of working with journalists, they’re much likelier to credit your brand if you have an attainable, not overly promotional, resource for them to link to!
Internal links are the backbone to any website. They are featured within your content to push SEO value through to the most profitable website pages and increase their ranking. E.g. if you had a blog post on ‘5 Different Types of Business Loans’, any relevant, high converting webpages on your site should be linked to within the text.
Add internal links to your website pages throughout your content/landing page. Any online publications who then link to your landing page will push SEO authority through your entire site; helping to push your most profitable pages further up the SERPs into those prime positions.
Note – avoid “keyword stuffing” with your internal links. Not every webpage is equal value, so splitting any link equity throughout your entire website will only reduce the ranking benefits.
With effective campaign promotion, the target landing page will earn links within content placed on third party sites. These links establish landing page authority which sends SEO value through profitable pages and increase rankings.
Be refined over the publications you contact – your campaign isn’t going to be relevant to everyone. Limit your lists down to websites who’ll have interest in content around finance. E.g. business news, investments, insurance, etc.
Check to see if websites have a media pack too, as some have specific requirements for getting content featured on their site, e.g. the right tone of voice, an author and even wordcount. Some publications will also refuse to link back to your website, which isn’t ideal if your campaign’s purpose is to improve your rankings!
5. How to Avoid Missing the Mark…
A PR campaign that backfires can be detrimental to a brand’s identity and consumer’s views of them. All consumers want to trust the companies they do business with, but this is especially true in finance. According to research, 69% of people in the UK have expressed distrust in their finance and banking businesses in the past three years.
Mastercard know the effects of bad PR only too well. In 2018, the credit card brand ran their ‘Meals for Goals’ campaign, which promised that for every goal scored by Messi or Neymar Jr. 10,000 children would receive a mean donated by the World Food Programme charity.
Unsurprisingly, the campaign received worldwide backlash, with headlines describing it as “the worst marketing I’ve ever seen” and “don’t let the fate of starving children rest on multimillionaire footballers”. The fact is, although it had good intentions, Mastercard’s audience were disgusted by the notion of such a huge multi-national company allowing the fate of starving children to rest their two selected players scored goals during the tournament.
Financial businesses need to put trust at the centre of their digital PR campaigns. For instance, you could position your CMO a thought-leader in the industry through interviews with financial news websites and webinars.
Although digital PR isn’t straightforward in the finance, it shouldn’t be avoided. There are plenty of ways to make generating ad landing strong campaigns much easier.
HARNESSING ANALYTICS IN THE FIGHT AGAINST FRAUD
By Anna Lykourina, EMEA Fraud Analytics Expert at SAS
In the past, the fight against fraud has been a bit hit-and-miss. It has relied on auditors to identify patterns of behaviour that just didn’t quite fit. They often only detected problems months after the event. And then organisations had to claw back stolen funds through legal processes.
In a world where transactions happen in under a second, however, this is no longer acceptable. We need to be able to detect fraud immediately, if not before it happens. Customers want safe and protected data that is not vulnerable to identity theft through company systems. But they still want to be able to pay online and in seconds. The stakes are high, but fortunately new tools and techniques in fraud analytics are enabling companies to stay ahead of fraud.
Trusting machines to do the work
Machines are much better than humans at processing large data sets. They are able to examine large numbers of transactions and recognise thousands of fraud patterns instead of the few captured by creating rules. On the other hand, fraudsters have become adept at finding loopholes. Whatever rules you set, it is likely that they will be able to get ahead of them. But what if your system was able to think for itself, at least to a certain extent?
New approaches to fraud prevention combine rules-based systems with machine learning and artificial intelligence-based fraud detection systems. These hybrid systems are able to detect and recognise thousands of fraud patterns and learn from the data. Automated analytical-based fraud detection systems can reveal novel fraud patterns and identify organised crime more consistently, efficiently and quickly. This makes them a good investment for businesses across a wide range of sectors, including public sector, insurance, banking, and even healthcare or telecommunications.
How, though, can you harness analytics as a tool in your fight against fraud?
Identifying needs and solutions
The first step is to identify which options you need. Probably the best way to do this is through a series of company-wide workshops with the fraud analytics experts to determine what analytics you need, which data to include and techniques to use, and what results to report. They can also identify the ideal combination of rules-based and AI/ML approaches to detect fraud as early as possible.
Companies looking towards advanced analytics for fraud detection will need to make a number of decisions. They will need to optimise existing scenario threshold tuning, explore big data, develop and interpret machine learning models for fraud, discover relevant information in text data, and prioritise and auto-route alerts. There may be industry-specific decisions to make, too, such as automating damage analysis through image recognition in the insurance sector. By automating these areas, companies can both significantly reduce human effort – reducing costs – and improve their fraud detection and prevention.
Benefits of an analytical approach to fraud detection and prevention
Companies that are already using an analytical approach for fraud prevention have reported several important benefits. First, the quality of referrals for further investigation is better. Investigators also have a much clearer idea of why the referral has been made, which improves the efficiency of investigation. Analytics also improves investigation efficiency by reducing the number of both false positives (that is, alerts that turn out not to be fraud) and false negatives (failure to spot actual frauds). This improves customer experience and reduces risk to the company.
Analytics makes it possible to uncover complex or organised fraud that rules-based systems would miss. Companies can group together customers and accounts with similar behaviors, and then set risk-based thresholds appropriate for each scenario.
There are several sector-specific benefits too. For example, insurance firms can identify fraudulent claims faster to prevent improper payments from going out. Claims investigation is likely to be more consistent because claims are scored through technology, algorithms and analytics, rather than by people. Finally, it becomes possible to shorten the claims process through automated damage analysis. It is no wonder that organizations across a wide range of sectors are placing analytics at the heart of their anti-fraud strategy.
2020 VISION: TRANSFORMING THE LEGAL DOCUMENTATION LANDSCAPE THROUGH STRUCTURED DATA
Jason Pugh, Managing Director, D2 Legal Technology
The derivatives industry has been transformed by the proactive engagement of its members over the last 30+ years, an exemplar of bright, resourceful individuals coming together to achieve business outcomes that benefit the industry as a whole. From pioneering the master agreement, the eye-catching creation of protocols, to harmonisation of business process through the likes of FpML, the industry has constantly evolved.
Today, the industry is facing new challenges and while many will consider, correctly, that the proliferation of global and regional regulations since the financial crisis has both been challenging and led to unintended consequences, there is an even more stark reality that players in this market need to consider, i.e. surviving in a disrupted universe.
Jason Pugh, Managing Director, D2 Legal Technology, outlines the potential that can be achieved by enhancing legal data standards and how that this is an essential precondition to fundamentally transforming the operating environment through technology.
We all witness the impact of Uber and Amazon in every walk of life which has extended client expectations. We all know that as clients appreciate and come to expect these new capabilities and services, disrupted technology will not be put back into the bottle.
Similarly, clients in the financial services industry rightly expect more for less. It may also be less complex than we fear – the industry is, after all, not as unique as it likes to think and a vast proportion of our business can be commoditised.
The critical challenge for the industry is therefore to transform itself into a cheaper and better risk managed operation that achieves the twin goals of client satisfaction and regulatory compliance – this means simplification, the current framework is too complex comprising too many disparate processes pieced together in a makeshift manner.
The correlation between better client service, better risk management/compliance and cost efficiency is high when viewed through the prism of effective front to back processes. This is the challenge the industry faces, and the good news is that many of the strands are already being developed; the challenge is to bring them together.
The journey so far
Over these last decades, ISDA has worked with its members and market participants to produce and maintain a documentation framework. It has constantly responded to market changes and this has led to an evolution of its suite of documentation especially with the development of the ISDA Master Agreement and associated documentation, such as various annexes, definitional booklets and protocols. This framework has provided important legal certainty, clarity and efficiency for market participants and critically transformed the credit risk profile of trading entities through the concept of close-out netting.
In recent years, the number of standard form documents and their complexity has proliferated often in response to regulatory requirements. Many of the core terms have remained constant, yet there has been an ever-increasing number of variants in the specific clauses used within the documentation framework, increasing the time taken for negotiation and onboarding of new client relationships. These increased variances have different commercial and operational effects and have precipitated multiple bespoke business processes to monitor, at a time when monitoring has been more scrutinised than ever, post financial crisis.
The increased cost of supporting pre- and post-trade activities and complying with the new regulatory obligations, alongside reduced profit margins in the derivatives business, is not sustainable. Against a backdrop of an increasingly digital and data-driven world, there is a need and an opportunity to standardise and digitise the legal documentation.
Through the adoption of common market standards, the market will be able to leverage technology-enabled contract delivery and management solutions, as well as allow the use of technology such as Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) and smart derivatives contracts.
Significant work has progressed in these areas through the work of ISDA and others and there is a broader recognition of the need for market infrastructure, utilities, data governance, documentation change and process change. However, there is more to be done and until recently, legal agreement clause/data standardisation and legal agreement data had been at the periphery of current legal technology initiatives. But it is now falling into the mainstream, with clause taxonomies which are designed to address the growth of clause variants into one singular vernacular. Most importantly, we have seen the development of an outcomes based approach where variants are being condensed if they relate to the same business outcome. This is foundational when looking to enhance process, reduce risk and meet client expectations.
A glimpse of what “strategic state” looks like
Historically, written legal agreements have been king as we look to document and evidence the intention of trading parties, which has been largely effective. However, the legal profession has, on occasion, complicated contracts through verbose legalese that is not even consistent with the prose of other lawyers and incomprehensible to the uninitiated – never mind those e.g. in operations, giving effect and managing the risks arising from the contractual obligations they create.
The environment has changed and in an increasingly data-driven world, it is no longer the written word that is king. Firms are moving to operationalise their businesses through automated data-driven processes, and accordingly, key commercial and operational terms, as well as risks monitored within legal agreements need to form a part of the business process if they are to play a part in optimising the business decision-making, management of commercial risks and operations. However, until the key data elements of the legal agreements are structured, transparent and consumable, this optimisation is impossible. This means defining standard structured data variables and allowable values for those defined variables.
It all starts with structured data
We are on an inevitable journey to data-orientated legal agreements, with a representation of the written contractual terms in a manner that follows a consistent, predictable and structured data format. There are numerous tangible benefits to data orientated contracts, such as enhancing the process of negotiating legal agreements, allowing the opportunity to automate the creation and delivery of legal agreement documentation, and negotiate and execute it with multiple counterparties simultaneously, by focusing on intended business outcomes.
By having a standard list of variants focusing on outcomes of those clauses, it is possible to utilise LegalTech solutions to parse through legacy legal agreement documentation, and classify the clauses contained within such documentation against those standards and successfully manage those contractual obligations to optimise the business.
Challenges on the road to delivery
Markets and industries, by their very nature, tend to resist new ideas, products and standards. Added to this is the sheer amount of change to the pre- and post-trade processing and market infrastructure landscape in OTC derivatives following the 2008 financial crisis.
However, to unlock the benefits of the changing legal documentation landscape, the focus needs to be on data. Firms have historically under-invested in core reference data, and whilst there have been marked improvements, the standard is lacking for legal contract data; firms are simply unable to systematically understand the risks emanating from their broad contractual portfolio.
Clause taxonomies create a framework in which to work with legal agreements and manage the contractual obligations they contain, allowing classification to be conducted within the framework of that taxonomy. Although taxonomies are a well-established approach to categorising and linking to business processes, these have only been used to a limited extent by market participants for legal agreement management, and typically created individually (often for a particular department or specific use within a firm). They do however, form the foundations of optimising value from business processes and unlocking value through (legal) change.
Market participants have demonstrated considerable pioneering spirit to develop the industry through legal documentation. It now needs to be bold enough to take the next step to unlocking the digital agenda by developing common data standards. There are times when firms should compete and there are times when they should converge for the common good – and this in one of them.
Structured data will enable technology to provide the insights clients require with a far simpler and more sustainable operating model. We therefore need to think smart and adapt to operate in this new landscape which we should embrace, rather than resist.
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