This article first appeared in Professional Adviser.

Wondering what PR could do for an advice business? Here are five tips to get advisers started…

From regulatory reporting to HR and finance management, IFA business owners have a lot on their plate. It’s, therefore, no surprise that many bosses put public relations (PR) in the ‘something to think about one-day’ bucket.

Not to be confused with marketing, PR provides an opportunity for a business to tell its story and maintain positive relationships with the people who impact on its success, rather than a way of just selling specific products or services.

This means that, for an adviser looking to develop and grow their firm, a carefully considered PR strategy can be a hugely valuable asset when it comes to building the trust and understanding with clients that our profession is built upon.

Dipping a toe into PR for the first time can seem like a daunting prospect, and any professional worth their salt will tell you that the cornerstone of any PR programme should be a clear understanding of the narrative you wish to convey and a solid understanding of the issues facing the business, underpinned by a clear set of objectives to support them.

That said, there are a few basic tactics that it’s worth considering to get you started.

1. Don’t keep business news to yourself
While the media should not be viewed as a marketing arm, many journalists will write about news coming out of companies in the local area, so don’t be afraid to share your good news and successes

If you have appointed a new team member or entered a professional partnership, think about how you can share this news with the audiences that matter.

While sharing a press release with relevant journalists is always worthwhile, securing media coverage isn’t the only benefit to such an exercise.

Corporate announcements like this are a great way of touching base with clients and professional connections and letting them know that your business is developing and growing. So, first and foremost, ensure that everyone in the team is sharing the news on social media and flagging to close contacts to ensure it reaches as many of your target audiences as possible.

2. Engage with journalists in your local area
If you’re one of the many advisers who focus on serving clients in their local area, then having a presence in the regional media they consume could be a worthwhile PR objective.

Spend some time looking at which journalists write about local business developments (some of the larger titles may even have reporters dedicated to money or personal finance issues) and look to set up a virtual or in-person coffee. Informal meetings like this can be a great way to start making a name for your business as a positive force in the local community.

What’s more, having a good rapport with a journalist can make them more open to hearing about your news and views on how industry developments may impact on people in your region. If you haven’t engaged with the press before though, then think about doing some media training to ensure you and the team are educated, equipped and confident in how to effectively communicate your firm’s story.

3. React to the news agenda
If you or anyone else in the team has views on developments taking place within the sector, don’t be afraid to share them. Consider sharing a few lines with journalists you know have an interest in the area – they might welcome your insights as they are writing news stories.

If you’re keen to say something more in-depth, then you might want to pen a blog or article for clients and contacts. Where possible, be sure to include suggested solutions on the issues raised.

Many trade publications accept ad-hoc guest comment pieces if the topic is particularly new or interesting, but the primary goal here is to demonstrate the expertise within the business without seeking to make a hard sell.

4. Make existing activity work harder
Likewise, if you’re already producing marketing and communications collateral, then it’s more than likely you’ll find there are other ways this could be used.

For example, could your website blogs be broken down into digestible tips to share on social media? Or could you pull out key takeaways from a client webinar into a whitepaper to share with participants and professional connections the business wants to get close to?

Ultimately, you want to ensure that all activity is made to work as hard as possible – aiming to give as many people as may take something away from it the chance to see it.

5. Events involvement
There will be times when industry bodies and publications seek out financial advisers to speak at roundtables and conferences at no cost, so don’t be afraid to get in touch with their events teams to flag your areas of expertise for any upcoming opportunities that may arise.

Being in the room at these sorts of events presents a great networking opportunity in itself, and taking part can really start to cement members of your team as experts in their field. Aside from this, being able to demonstrate that your voice is trusted by a well-respected industry organisation can show real credibility.

It goes without saying that every firm’s PR strategy will differ depending on its specific aims and objectives, and what works for one business might not make sense for another.

If you really want to get maximum value, then your best bet will be consulting a professional, but these five tactics should provide some food for thought on how to proactively start managing your company’s reputation.