Below, part two of what I learned about the financial media in 2022. Part one is here.
The context is this: in 2022, I sent 952 queries to the financial media. Some worked, some didn’t. The point is, when you send out 952 pitches to the media, you learn things, some of which are encapsulated below.
Market commentary was your best bet. If you are a financial soothsayer, and you wanted to get media coverage in 2022, offering broad market commentary was your safest bet. In 2022, the media favored market commentary because of the resurgence of inflation and all of its downstream impacts on everything from Fed policy to fixed-income markets, and to earnings.
One of the advantages of offering market commentary is that you can get two bites at the apple on any given day because the markets can be way up in the morning, and way off later in the afternoon, and reporters are looking for opinions about all of it.
Parenthetically, a lot of strategists, portfolio managers and analysts who develop market commentary often fail to get any media coverage for it. The reason is they tend to recite the facts — employment is up, inventories are down, and European equities are selling off. Reporters already know this. What they want is an opinion about it.
For stocks, the bigger picture mattered more. In 2022, so-called sector calls — i.e., “We like semis, and in particular, those serving automotive end markets” — got more traction than calls on a single stock. The reason was because several large macro developments — Ukraine war, covid reopening, inflation — produced wholesale change in many industries. For instance, fertilizer stocks went through the roof last year because of Ukraine-driven grain shortages. Because of all the news, producers found the bigger picture perspective more attractive.
There’s also a benefit to your image that comes with making broad-based industry calls. Recommending or talking about one stock makes you a trader. With a sector call, you are a captain of industry.
Nobody in the media cares about financial planning much. If you were a financial planner in 2022, earning media coverage was harder than it usually is. The humdrum topics that are a staple of financial planning or wealth management — asset allocations, saving for retirement, spending in retirement, lowering your taxes — couldn’t compete well with all the other action in stocks and the markets at large. These are important services, but the hard truth is that anything that can be said about financial planning has already been said, and the business doesn’t change enough to say anything new and of course, new is the root word of news.
There are ways to change up the playbook, but the best advice I can offer is that if you are a wealth manager and want to grow your business, take the funds you allocate to public relations, and put them into digital advertising.
Being a contributor was easier. Media outlets continue to replace or supplement their ranks with contributors, i.e. industry practitioners who write about topics within their area of expertise on behalf of the outlet. There’s a few tricks to landing these, but the task is made easier by the fact that the water is warm, and outlets are looking for reliable contributors.
From a media or public relations perspective, there are so many benefits to being a contributor that if you wanted to do just one thing that would constitute your entire public relations program, being a contributor would be it.