Friday, 28 November 2014

Fintech PR – How to get a bank to put its name to a story

Why so shy?
Throughout my career, I have always maintained that doing PR for fintech companies isn’t rocket science, however it is a bit tricky. Not only are you, the PR, the only person in the brain-chain without a PhD or three, which can leave you feeling perma-insecure; but also ‘tis hard to tell good stories if there are no good stories to tell.


Listening banks are great but when it comes to
fintech PR, talking ones are my favourite
Actually no news isn’t good news – but owing to the nature of the deals, it is not unusual for a small or a start-up fintech company to have just a few client signing announcements a year and those signings usually fall into three categories:
  • The no comment: you may not mention the bank in anyway shape or form – great thank you sooo much for that one.
  • The vanilla bean: you can prepare something but the details are to be so vanilla and that the quote so bland that it’s barely worth the effort. 
  • The never never: You get the go ahead on the Friday night, write it on a Saturday, it gets signed off by your team on the Sunday and it's with the bank for approval first thing Monday morning. And there it will stay, stuck in the corporate food chain awaiting sign off forever more, never to be seen again.
Five tips for getting a bank to sign off a press release
Over the years, working for a fintech start-up, then a fintech multi-national and then a fintech PR agency, these are the tactics I have seen work. It's a bit of a team effort:

1) Incentivize your sales people to negotiate press as part of the contract. Cash bonuses for press releases and double again for a case study, seems to work well enough.

2) Incentivize your bank by giving them a discount in the contract if they agree to do press, get dates.

3) During the sales process and the implementation, stay close to your champion in the bank and work directly with them on the story, using them as the spokesperson, and making sure your story shows your champion as the pioneer they truly are.

4) Have the release written and ready to go so that it can be slipped under the nose of your happy, happy client the day everything goes live ahead of schedule and under budget.

5) Make the release hardworking and insightful tell the story of the partnership between your company and the bank. Do not dwell on what was wrong in the first place, be realistic no bank is going to sign off a story that goes, 'well it was just chaos here till you guys showed up'. And keep the quotes real and relevant not an unadulterated and shameless plug for your company. This will make it easier to get sign off, and more credible with the journalists, on whom you ultimate depend to publish it.

What if you hit an absolute blank wall and can’t get the bank to talk no way no how?

Rather than issuing a no name press release, which somewhat reeks of desperation, consider going down the analyst relations route where your client can freely talk about the project and its successes to the industry analysts under the comfort of NDA.


If this was helpful so too might be:
Made by clever people for clever people: can PRs add value in fintech?
Sibos, no rest for the wicked or even the wise: on getting the best out of the biggest fintech tradeshow.
Why the sign off process can ruin a good press release: self-explanatory I think.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Guest Post:The G-Cloud, where some vendors are more equal than others


Eria Odhuba, resident analyst relations lead at The Comms Crowd, looks at the opportunities and challenges for those public sector tech vendors mining the G-Cloud.

What lies at the end of the G-Cloud rainbow?
Over the last few years we’ve been working with vendors that have won significant projects through G-Cloud. From this vantage point it has got us thinking about the G-Cloud business opportunities available to small IT vendors and service providers in 2015, and some of the serious challenges they might face.

While 2015 might not necessarily be ‘make or break’ time for suppliers if they don’t get a bigger slice of the G-Cloud pie, we think one trend that will become more entrenched: there will be a small group of providers winning a disproportionately larger share of contracts, leaving the rest fighting over the scraps.


There are some vendors that are excellent at articulating their value propositions clearly and have the right staff, or well-designed systems, in place to get their messages out to their target market. More often than not, they will attract a bigger share of leads which, in turn, gives them more opportunities to convert these into contracts.

Now, the UK government is no longer dragging its feet when it comes to exploring new and innovative models for IT spend and execution. As belts are tightened, it really wants to make sure it is getting value for money and look out for a larger number of suppliers that could potentially contribute to its success. So discussions about cloud computing, agile software development, security, BYOD etc will be as intense, if not more, as you will find in forward thinking private sector firms. This should not surprise anybody anymore!

The rise of the Public Services Network (PSN) and increased awareness of the benefits PaaS offerings could provide will see more government departments exploring cloud adoption and / or sourcing more complex requirements via the CloudStore.

So the opportunity is clearly there to make a mark via G-Cloud, which is great for smaller suppliers. However, it also throws up a massive challenge for them. With more suppliers signing up to G-Cloud month after month, it is getting harder to reach the key public sector decision makers who need to understand what is on offer. Being human, they can’t process indefinite amounts of information and spend their time talking to every supplier there is.

The other important thing to note is that success in one area of the public sector is increasingly noted in other parts, so whoever is in charge of implementing a new IT system or product might want that success replicated in their departments using the same supplier. In many ways, this makes sense. If you know a supplier can consistently deliver quickly, without going over budget, you’d be crazy not to speak to them. So suppliers that have got a string of wins under their belt are in a great position.

Suppliers that are only signing up now or who have not had a chance to show what they can really deliver need to find a way of providing the evidence they can do so. They also need a creative way of informing the public sector decision makers and IT community about their solutions or products, engage with them appropriately via social media and participate at the right events. Quite a lot to think about which, if not done properly, will mean they don’t get to sit at the table with the other winners.

Some industry analysts predict more commoditisation of products and services in subsequent iterations of the G-Cloud Framework. If this results in further commoditization of IT and lower costs, many would argue that is great for the public sector.

For suppliers, there is a trap to avoid though. The last thing many want to do is simply fight contracts based on cost. This tends to be a quick route to disaster. Value is what suppliers should be thinking of. What value do they bring to the table and how will this benefit their customers?

Getting to the stage where suppliers can articulate their value propositions clearly and hit their target market effectively, with evidence to support what they say, will be the keys to survival within G-Cloud.

2015 will be a good year for those that do, and a pretty harsh one for those that don’t.

If public sector tech is of interest to you you may also like:




Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Welcoming the new wave of PR Punks

So the PR industry is hiring again, hurrah, but who exactly is going to manage this new wave of talent and teach them our ways, and do we even want to?

Mohican not obligatory
London Calling
Just looking at the last few copywriting jobs we’ve had come in: a complete re-write of a careers’ website and a brochure to attract the best young talent – it’s clear things are on the up for our clients and finally for interns, with graduate recruitment in the UK at its highest since 2007.

For the past four years, I've run a London PR internship programme for a US university. In the past, it has often taken around six months to secure suitable internships for 15 or so MA students. But 2014 saw a marked increase in demand and they were snapped up in around three months, in fact I unearthed more great opportunities than I had interns. Hurrah!

But it occurred to me, who exactly is going to manage these bright young things and what will happen if we don't?

Should I Stay or Should I Go?
The present generation of account directors (ADs) grew up in the equivalent of war-time rationing, working with reduced client budgets, non-existent internal budgets and being forced to adopt a recession-based management style: cautious, risk averse and desperate to keep the account at all costs. Sounds like fun don't it? Is it any wonder that agency ADs are moving in-house, looking for a saner, more stable environment, one that’s more conducive to seeing let alone raising a family? And 
with today’s trend for bulking up the corporate comms team set to continue in-house is only too glad to hire them.

So not the ADs then.

Career Opportunities
We all know ‘a good account manager is hard to find,’ as Fergal Sharkey once meant to say, but these days they are rare beasties indeed. In fact anyone with two to five years’ experience is hard to find in any industry. Thanks to the recession we have skipped a hiring generation. Not only that, but for many years, training, development and general people investment have all been corners that were first to be cut. So those few who were recruited and managed to survive and thrive, were tough self-starters. Not necessarily the types to want to micro-manage or molly-coddle junior talent, they are much more likely to have their eyes on the prize of filling in an AD role.


So not the AMs then.

Give ‘Em Enough Rope
MEANWHILE: The PR business contributes £9.62bn to the UK economy, with agency revenues doubling in the last ten years - but what about the profits? It’s generally recognised that a healthy agency wants to be looking at a 15 - 20% margin, but the last figure I saw said in 2013, agencies was averaging around 10.6%. The cause was due to our fear of putting up our rates, and over-servicing reaching an industry average of 20%. In an effort to hang on to the account at all costs, over-worked and over-wrought ADs and thinly spread AMs have been giving away one hour in every five, just to keep everyone (apart from the CFO) ‘happy’.


So do we want to pass this working model to the newbies, now the dark days are receding?

Revolution Rock
So could this be a recipe for Change?
· A thin upper and middle management layer with little time for micro management, structure and process.
· A business model that’s been coerced into giving it away.
· An influx of Generation Y emerging like butterflies into a boom time eco-climate, where risk is rewarded and disruption applauded. Recognised as the natural collaborators, masters of abstract and conceptual thinking. theis new genre of talent are highly ambitious, socially confident, relational, and the girls at least, highly organised - could this tech-savvy, upbeat, civic-minded, confident generation be the ones to reinvent us, rejuvenate us?

All The Young Punks
With a coincidental lack of hands on management, and so ample opportunity to enjoy the natural freedom they need to experiment and take a few risks, will this new wave of PR Punks be the ones to make us proud, a bt loud and profitable once more?

I do hope so.

A modified version of this article and without all The Clash references, first appeared in PR Moment on 9th September 2014.