The Changing Landscape of PR in Financial Services

PR for Financial Services

From mobile banking to transferring money and easily handling digital payments, the financial services landscape has shifted online. To keep up with these changes, financial institutions must continue to digitize, and in order for PR to succeed, PR strategies must follow relevant trends. 

In financial services, this means paying attention to the impacts of digital transformation, changes in consumer behavior, regulatory updates, and an increasing demand for transparency and trust. The PR playbook must expand to embrace a digital-first approach, leveraging online media, social platforms, and data analytics to tailor messages, anticipate trends, and measure impact.

What exactly does this mean for 2024? Public relations is a critical bridge for organizations in financial services to connect with the media and consumers. By leveraging a public relations professional’s extensive experience in earned digital media, finance companies will be better primed to carve out their own digital identities and gain a competitive advantage against other financial services institutions.

PR’s Evolution in Financial Services

The journey of PR in the financial services sector mirrors the industry’s evolution. Through digital media, PR plays a crucial role in helping financial services meet consumers, competitors, and stakeholders where they are—online. Digital PR efforts build on the foundation of traditional communication strategies, leveraging online coverage to create trust and credibility, provide consistent messaging, and connect with broader audiences.

PR professionals will want to target publications centering on finance, business, economics, and technology, zeroing in on more niche topics as appropriate. This provides PR with the opportunity to engage influencers, journalists, and other media stakeholders across various social media platforms, podcasts, news outlets, and blogs.

For example, consider a new bank opening in the U.S. They wouldn’t benefit from coverage in the UK, right? In the same way, your financial services company might not be reaching the right audiences for its goals. By working with a public relations firm, financial businesses are better equipped to tap into the right audiences to effectively deliver their messages.

Analyzing the Impact of Digital Transformation

Like the evolution of the media landscape, digital transformation has reformed both PR and the finance industry, offering new platforms and tools for engagement, analysis, and strategic optimization. Reflecting universal trends, the finance sector prioritized investments in digital transformation in 2023, adding AI, machine learning, and other analytics tools to nearly every facet of the industry. This same technology was applied to PR, with more and more agencies leaning into emerging technologies to create and share content.

When combined, digital transformation in finance and PR reveals data that can be leveraged to generate and track coverage to target audiences. And when armed with a sophisticated data and analytics strategy, financial institutions better understand their customers. This allows them to share the right information with PR teams to understand a campaign’s target outreach goals. Analytics also help to measure a campaign’s impact in real-time and uncover customer insights to deliver more tailored messaging, anticipate trends, and optimize PR efforts.

This is the difference between drafting a standard press release announcing a new CEO that might receive little to no engagement versus knowing what to add to the same release to make it engaging, impactful, and interesting enough to land more coverage. This might sting, but it also means trusting PR teams to reject certain press releases and media pushes in favor of ones that make more sense for your coverage goals. 

Not sure what makes a strong press release? Try our AI-enabled PR ranking tool, Snooze or News.  

Embracing Social Media’s Popularity

Earned media has evolved far beyond traditional news outlets, embracing a diverse array of digital platforms that significantly impact PR strategies in financial services. PR professionals are no longer satisfied with a few articles and mentions in well-known publications. Instead, they want to achieve greater business goals and launch public relations campaigns that enhance financial services communications by broadening horizons and securing appearances on podcasts, influential blogs, and dynamic social media channels.

These modern platforms provide unique opportunities for direct engagement with key audiences and a wide range of options for financial services to communicate in real-time, provide exceptional customer service, and craft compelling brand narratives. In fact, 89% of banks believe social media is important for their business. This means PR for financial services must follow these trends, meeting businesses and consumers where they are.

This is further emphasized by a survey conducted by the American Bankers Association, where respondents cited social media as a primary tool used to connect with consumers. Community engagement was the top priority (19%), while deepening existing consumer relationships through educational content came in second (15%). Through these platforms, financial services are not only able to swiftly address customer concerns, but also engage in meaningful conversations and build community around their brand.

This is critical. Consumers are interacting with brands online for everything from customer service needs to conducting research and finding information, so wouldn’t it make sense to build your brand’s presence online? Definitely.

This broader approach to earned media—encompassing podcasts, social media, and other digital channels—enables financial companies to diversify their PR strategies. It allows them to reach and resonate with their audience more effectively, crafting a multifaceted narrative that aligns with modern consumption habits and preferences.

By embracing the full spectrum of earned media, from traditional outlets to social media, financial companies can enhance visibility, credibility, and customer loyalty, marking a significant evolution in their PR practices.

A Shift Towards Transparency and Trust

In the aftermath of financial crises and scandals over the past few decades, plus a rising number of headlines about data breaches, transparency has become a cornerstone of effective PR. Clients and stakeholders now demand openness, honesty, and clarity in communication. Just look at the Wells Fargo account fraud scandal. This years-long effort to repair the brand image and regain public trust has benefited from a commitment to transparency in their recovery efforts.

This also highlights the need for crisis management PR, especially in the volatile realm of financial services. Effective crisis communication principles emphasize the need for speed, accuracy, and consistency. The 2008 financial crisis offers numerous lessons for present-day financial organizations. In one example, Lehman Brothers failed to communicate effectively, exacerbating stakeholder concerns. In contrast, firms that maintained transparent and frequent communications were better able to navigate the crisis. Our platforms and channels may have changed since then, but the value of communication hasn’t.

Unlimited access to information online also means that negative press never really goes away. Any consumer can conduct a quick Google search to find out more information about a brand’s history and reputation. By implementing a strong PR strategy, financial organizations can better manage their press, securing more thoughtful and positive recent pieces of coverage. Even during a crisis, a good PR team will ensure that companies respond quickly and tactfully to minimize damage and help the brand move forward.

The Importance of Thought Leadership and Executive Visibility

Thought leadership and executive visibility have also become essential elements of PR in financial services, driving trust and engagement by showcasing expertise and vision. A LinkedIn study found that 55% of decision-makers in the financial sector use thought leadership to vet organizations they might engage with.

This mirrors information collected by Axios, which shows there’s a direct correlation between CEO visibility and corporate visibility—both of which can greatly influence business outcomes. These findings also reflect buyer expectations, increasing the importance of engaging with the media (both social and earned) for the benefit of stakeholders across the board—from vendors to employees and clients.

The Future of PR in Financial Services

The landscape of PR in financial services is continuously evolving, driven by digital transformation, the need for transparency, the power of social media, the importance of thought leadership, and the imperative of crisis management.

As financial institutions navigate these changes, they must remain agile, leveraging data and technology to communicate effectively with stakeholders. By embracing transparency, fostering executive visibility, and anticipating future trends, financial services firms can build lasting trust and credibility in an increasingly complex and scrutinized industry.

Choosing the Right PR Partner: What Sets Zen Media Apart

In the intricate world of financial services, selecting a PR agency that aligns with your firm’s vision and understands the sector’s unique challenges is crucial. A partner with a deep understanding of regulatory landscapes, market dynamics, and the ability to engage with a sophisticated audience can transform your PR strategy from good to exceptional. At Zen Media, we pride ourselves on our nuanced approach to PR for financial services, developed through years of experience and success in the industry.

Our approach is rooted in a belief that effective PR goes beyond traditional tactics. We integrate digital strategies, content marketing, and thought leadership to offer a holistic PR framework. This comprehensive method ensures we address all aspects of brand building and stakeholder engagement, delivering PR and marketing strategies that are not only innovative, but that also deeply resonate with your target audience.

Our team at Zen Media understands that in the fast-paced world of financial services, being seen as a thought leader and a trusted source of information is paramount. We leverage our expertise to craft messages that not only inform, but also engage and inspire action.

What truly sets Zen Media apart is our track record of working with financial service firms and achieving success across PR and digital marketing. We’ve helped our clients navigate the complexities of the financial industry, achieve sustained growth, and gain recognition in a crowded marketplace. Our success stories are a testament to our ability to think more holistically about PR, blending industry insights with innovative solutions to produce measurable outcomes.

Choosing Zen Media means partnering with a team that’s as invested in your success as you are. We understand that in the world of financial services, every communication counts. That’s why so many firms trust us to not only convey their message, but to amplify their voice in a way that builds trust, credibility, and long-term relationships with their audience.

Elevating Your Financial Services Brand with Strategic PR

The right PR strategy is critical in shaping perceptions, building relationships, and driving the growth of financial services firms. Our holistic approach to PR, combining traditional and digital strategies with a deep understanding of the financial services industry, sets our clients apart in a competitive landscape.

As the sector continues to evolve, our commitment to innovation and strategic communication ensures that our clients not only meet, but exceed the expectations of their audience—today and in the future.
Ready to elevate your brand with our winning PR strategy? Reach out!

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