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Building the Business 101: Working with the Media

How to make the most of your interviews with the media.

Veena A. Kutler and Annette F. Simon, 03/27/2008

This monthly series of articles describes the many steps and occasional missteps we have taken in building our financial advisory business, Garnet Group LLC. Currently, Garnet has eight staff members, more than 90 clients, more than $300 million in client net worth under advisement, and offices in Bethesda, Md., and Boston. Veena Kutler, CFA, and Annette Simon, CFP, are the managing principals in the Garnet office in Bethesda.

Recently, the principals at Garnet have received a flurry of interview requests from local TV, national newspapers and magazines, and even one European newspaper.  We're pleased to have these opportunities to discuss our views and, of course, to get our names out as experts as well.

Although we are happy with the recent opportunities, in general we think that marketing and public relations is one of our weak spots as a team. Between the four partners, we have great technical, strategic thinking, and client relationship skills, but none of us feels like an expert at creating and implementing a marketing plan or building a good public relations campaign. Nor do we have a substantial amount in our budget for public relations. Any publicity we garner has to come our way through free channels--and appearing as an expert in the media certainly makes for excellent public relations. 

How do we keep this streak up, we wondered? And how would an advisor without established media contacts start building a media presence?

We decided to turn to a professional and asked our friend Ben Lewis for his thoughts. Lewis is president of both Perception, Inc.--a public relations firm in Gaithersburg, Md., that works exclusively with companies and associations in the financial services industry--and of Rapportica, Inc.--a Web-based PR platform where members of the media and financial advisory community can meet to share story ideas. Lewis' firm has been handling public relations for the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) for several years and has done a tremendous job of helping the organization develop its brand and build stronger media relationships. 

If you had to describe Lewis with just one word, it would be "energetic." He oozes enthusiasm for his work and can develop a kernel of an idea into a full-blown campaign in the blink of an eye. He is a force of nature, and it's quite a challenge to keep up with him.

We interviewed Lewis recently and asked him for some advice for advisors who would like to work more effectively with the media.

The Interview
Garnet Group
: How can advisors position themselves to become a resource the press will turn to?

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