This week, we hosted a panel of incredible experts to debate the big issues that will shape our worlds as financial services communicators in 2019. Despite the London drizzle outside, the debate inside the beautiful Carter Lane art gallery provided some great insights into trends as we all plan for next year’s media landscape.
We partnered with our friends at Signal Media to welcome Lucie Holloway, Head of Financial Communications at London Stock Exchange; Russell Pert, EMEA Industry Lead Financial Services at Facebook; Phillipa Leighton-Jones, Editorial Director, Innovation at The Wall Street Journal and Editor of WSJ City; and Signal’s very own founder, David Benigson.
Panelists brought a range of expertises to the table, including targeting audiences from investors to consumers through headline-grabbing and thumb-stopping content and techniques. This diversity of experience and interests proved a great fit for our audience of financial services communications professionals representing some of the world’s best-known neo banks, asset managers, insurers, and even a few of our competitors.
I kicked off the financial services and communications discussion by asking our panelists how the media landscape is changing and what innovations they are thinking about as we look to 2019. The biggest takeaway? Data is the driving factor for ensuring engagement, impact, and longevity of content. In an age of blurred lines between the arts and sciences — where media and communications companies need to leverage data, and data companies require the art of language and analysis — driving content that is both informative and insightful requires a unique and diverse skill set. Fluffy language and overused insight are no longer good enough to cut through a noisy industry, particularly during a time where the world’s data can be aggregated in seconds. For us as communicators, applying a combination of data and meaningful analysis is key.
Navigating the Newsroom
Another central theme during the discussion was the importance of thinking like a journalist. One of the key hallmarks to successfully interacting with reporters and navigating the media landscape is wearing their hat, so to speak. Find the best stories within your organisation and tell them well.
The conversation naturally turned to technology’s role in storytelling. We spoke about the common misconception that AI as replacing human jobs; in fact, in most newsrooms technology is actually a mechanism to improve workflow and unearth much-needed intelligence to help fuel successful reporting. Employing smarter and more sophisticated technologies, as well as talented teams of people, will bring the best of both worlds together.
Knowing your Audience
It seems obvious, but no impactful content ever comes from guess-work. Our panelists stressed the importance of understanding one’s target market in financial services, including which medium they use to consume media, content, and information. We live in an era of instant gratification, so consumers have become impatient. Your reader may give you five seconds to get their attention, so deliver your premise in two. For mobile, short and sweet is key; for a younger audience, utilise videos and dynamic content; for your internal communications, make sure you understand what motivates your employees and help them to tell your organisation’s stories better.
Continue to improve your content program by looking outside the organisation’s walls; look at competitors within and outside your sector. And lean on data and analytics tools to test new methods and material: What channel best drives engagement? What content best resonates with your audience?
Finally, it was agreed that targeted communications require effective measurement and evaluation. With the rise of AI and other tools, a company’s challenge isn’t about if they should measure results, but rather what they seek to measure and how different data correlates to desired outcomes.
This space is rapidly evolving. For example, businesses used to be able to measure multiple visits with cookies (how many times does a given computer IP address visit a site?) Now that most people have two or three devices, measurement must be sophisticated enough to correlate multiple data streams and understand a user’s entire journey — regardless of which device is facilitating that journey.
If you’re reading this, it means we succeeded in securing more than five seconds of your attention – so thank you! The communications landscape is ever-evolving, but it’s important we adapt accordingly to stay relevant and convert stakeholder attention from interest to action. I leave you today with our key takeaways from this discussion:
- Find the ‘hidden gems’ in your organisation — insights, data, employees — and mobilise them to tell your best stories
- Manage your newsroom as if you worked for a publication
- Invest in understanding your audience and how they are engaging with your content
- Use analytical tools to help drive future communications strategy, not just to justify what you’ve done so far