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  • Updating How You Evaluate Your Firm's Media Presence With The Share of Voice+ Score

    When it comes to solidifying a company’s media presence, Share of Voice can be misleading. High numbers of media citations can hide a lazy or poorly executed PR strategy. In the world of public relations, the quality of a single mention in a top tier media outlet often outweighs tens of passing mentions in any other outlet. Alternatively, a profile in the Financial Times or Wall Street Journal is certainly worth a lot more than a passing comment anywhere else. Share of Voice, however, will record all citations in the exact same way – as a single citation -  masking the success (or not) and all the other nuance of that press mention. In this way, a lot of the work around promoting a company’s brand is wasted on chasing opportunities that do not live up to the promise of generating the highest return on investment. This is why Material Impact has launched a proprietary algorithm that rates media hits, called Share of Voice+ (SoV+), and is part of the MiData PR and marketing analytics platform. Material Impact's algorithm takes into account both the qualitative and quantitative aspects behind a single media citation, including whether the citation is a Tier 1 or Tier 2 opportunity (as defined by the client), geographic location, type of mention (profiles and by-lines score more highly than passing expert commentary, for example). We then use third party data which estimates the circulation and reads of a particular news page, along with other web metrics like domain authority. These and other metrics, properly weighted, make up Material Impact's Share of Voice+ score (SoV+). The score encapsulates all the elements that should help financial services firms understand the effectiveness of their engagement with the media. The new metric assigns each media citation a score from 0 to 100, with 100 being the highest SoV+ score that a company’s citation in the media can get. As a result of this algorithm, marketing and PR professionals are now able to score media mentions, putting a rating to the quality of their media campaigns and helping the C-suite better understand the efforts of their communications teams - and the link between budget and results. Going further, MiData customers can also link their Google Analytics, social media and other marketing metrics to better understand the Return on Investment (ROI) from their wider campaigns and how their PR fits into it. Scoring media citations also allows financial services companies to benchmark their current performance against their engagements with the media in previous years, or future ones. This is a useful metric for those engaging in brand value benchmarking. Material Impact’s SoV+ score was designed to help marketers and PR specialists who are interested in assessing the impact that their work has had over the media presence of their clients. Whether in-house teams or external consultants, these professionals now have a data-based approach to quantify the quality of the public relations efforts and marketing output. If you are interested in learning more about how Material Impact can help your company make sense of its media presence, we would love to discuss how our SoV+ score can be of assistance. Quantity over quality is not a good trade-off when it’s your company name that is on the line.

  • Introducing MiData

    Video transcript START For years, financial services marketing and PR professionals have been challenged to prove return on investment on their activity. Now, your team can monitor ROI across digital, events, PR and everything in-between, all in one place, in seconds with Midata – an on-demand, single screen dashboard for busy marketing teams to track their ROI. Track the analytics your company cares about. MiData is bespoke to your business, so it fits into your established KPIs and reporting format, without the clutter. Saves time, is easy to use and look at. To track results and monitor performance across your activity. Get your actionable insights, on-demand and in a well-presented, boss-ready format in seconds. Integrates with virtually any software. Making MiData the analytics hub across your business. When the right data comes in an easy-to-look-at package, all in seconds – copy and paste? Bye Bye! MiData marks the start of a new marketing analytics movement. Moving forwards, actionable data will be more accessible, flexible and empowering. We believe it will change how financial services marketing works. With MiData, everyone can have the right insights, in seconds. By Material Impact Marketing & Communications. END

  • How Not To Get Bogged Down In Your Analytics

    Gathering and making decisions based on data is the most reliable way to build consensus around lead generation, growth strategies and generally keeping competition at bay, a fact most financial services marketing and PR professionals have accepted. However, only a relatively small number of professionals have managed to find the time to analyse their data. Fewer still have been able to consistently cut through the clutter of data abundance and do so on a consistent basis. Most find themselves going through what data analysts have termed “analysis paralysis” - which is what happens when firms get bogged down in their own analytics. To avoid data-induced lethargy, there are a few things that companies can do to ensure that data is fuelling rather than overwhelming their operation. Set clear goals by having a data plan It is easy to be seduced by the data-processing power of resources such as the almighty AI. However, companies that had been drowning in data have now found themselves lost in a sea of insights. Such firms are usually eager to collect enormous amounts of data in the hope that it might come in handy sometime – but they hardly ever put all that data to good use. So what should we do instead? Identifying the types of data needed in order to answer specific pain points of your c-suite is where we would suggest starting. Those are questions you are most familiar with, but will include “Is our content working?”, “Is our social media performing?” and “Are we mentioned enough in the right press?” Each question has a set of metrics that can answer it, whether it’s engagements across content, key messages or campaigns, effectively measuring public relations activities, user journey tracking or other online behaviour. The list is endless, but each marketing communications professional will have a good idea of what questions to start with and where to go from there. A well-crafted data plan enables financial marketers and communicators to make informed decisions, tailor their efforts to meet customer needs, measure the effectiveness of marketing initiatives and ultimately achieve a competitive advantage. 2. Prioritise relevant data Leveraging dashboards effectively surfaces key metrics, avoiding the risk of overwhelming the c-suite with excessive detail—a common cause of disengagement. Rather than spending precious hours collecting endless data points, dedicate some time to ensure that the collected data is accurate, relevant, and updated – and most importantly, aligned with the goals of your company. All the processing power in the world will not offset an erratic data strategy. Know where you want your company to go and focus on the type of data that will help it get there. 3. Avoid complexity Many believe that complex models and advanced software are guaranteed to generate the best data insights. Oftentimes, however, advanced techniques of data analyses fail to deliver – they are often too complex to understand by anyone other than the person who set them up, and what if that individual leaves the team? A lot will have been invested in output that is no longer understood and was questionably useful to begin with. The underlying features of every decision should be its easy to follow logic and explainability – characteristics that can be easily lost under the complex layers of analytics tools. Making sense of data should bring clarity to business decisions, not leave you in the dark as to the reasoning behind it. The pinnacle of a data-driven strategy is its ability to resist the temptation of inscrutable insights and willingness to embrace simplicity. 4. (Bonus) Outsource the most imaginative aspects of your data analytics Financial services marketing and public relations firms have quickly understood the importance of data analysis to keep their businesses afloat in the digital age – and most of them have spared no costs in the analytics branch of their operation. Firms that have not fully scaled yet, might have a harder time channelling resources to meet their need for data analytics. Limited time or skills are some of the obstacles faced by some of these firms in their quest for data literacy. A simple solution to this issue can be the outsourcing of their analytics functions to a third party that is best suited to take over the most straightforward business insights drawn from the company’s data, including the more technical and detailed aspects of making insights easy to explain and understand. This way, all firms can free up precious time by entrusting the analysis of their data to qualified data specialists, allowing them to act on the data insights rather than trying to make sense of them. Material Impact has helped companies in the finance sector to navigate the rapid changes of the digital world and keep up to date with the most recent developments in data analytics. Through a comprehensive set of services, Material Impact provides customised solutions to the most diverse business needs, enabling our clients to focus on transforming insights into actions.

  • Material Impact Unveils Revolutionary AI-Driven PR Robot - The Future of Financial Public Relations 

    April 1, 2024 – London & Chicago – In an industry-first, Material Impact Marketing Communications proudly announces the launch of its ground-breaking AI-driven PR robot, “PRoBot”. This state-of-the-art technology promises to revolutionize the world of public relations and marketing for financial services, including asset managers, fund administrators and financial membership organisations. PRoBot, equipped with advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities, is designed to autonomously create, distribute, and analyze PR content, while seamlessly integrating with visual content creation AIs. The robot’s unique feature lies in its ability to generate press releases, social media posts, and even entire marketing campaigns in seconds. “We’re excited to be at the forefront of PR technology with PRoBot,” said Daniel Jason, founder and CEO of Material Impact. “Imagine a world where PR strategies are executed at the click of a button, with creativity and efficiency beyond human capabilities. Beyond automating PR tasks, we’re talking about a robot that can host press conferences, engage in witty banter on LinkedIn, auto-dial and pitch prospective clients and journalists alike every 3.7 seconds.” Rumour has it that PRoBot is penning a self-help book for financial marketers and communications professionals entitled ‘Beyond Caffeine: Ten AI-Powered Ways to Success,’ which will be launched in a virtual press conference hosted by PRoBot itself. “This April, we’re not fooling around,” added Jason. “We’re redefining the boundaries of technology in PR. It’s time to sit back and let the robot do the talking.” END Notes to Editors About Material Impact When Material Impact isn’t writing April Fools’ jokes, we are a full-service public relations and marketing firm specializing in the financial services sector. With offices in London and Chicago, Material Impact combines industry expertise, innovative strategies, and a data-driven approach to help clients achieve their communication, content and marketing goals. For more information about Material Impact and its services, visit Media Contact: Daniel Jason, Chief Executive:

  • Celebrating 3 Years of Material Impact: Elevating Finance Brands with Expert Knowledge, Content & PR 

    February 1, 2024 - London, UK – Material Impact Marketing Communications (‘Material Impact’), a leading public relations and marketing firm representing fund administration, asset management and financial membership organisations, today marks its third anniversary, celebrating a period of remarkable achievements. Since its inception in 2021, Material Impact has secured on average and per client, over 90% Tier 1 media coverage reaching an audience of more than 26 million people, with an estimated 358 million article views. This achievement underscore the company’s commitment to making financial services brands more visible and valuable. As Material Impact celebrates its third year of unparalleled success, we also want to acknowledge the contributions provided by our senior advisory board, comprising of: Professor Charlotte Valeur, Chair: Former Chair of the Institute of Directors and a seasoned expert in governance and asset management, Charlotte brings over 35 years of experience. She currently chairs the Institute Of Neurodiversity ION, Board Apprentice, and serves as a Non-Executive Director for various companies. Michael Weiss: With a 30-year career in aircraft financing and leasing, Michael is a seasoned specialist in alternatives fundraising and structuring. He has previously served on the board of the International Society of Transport Aircraft Trading. Charlotte O’Leary: An ESG consulting specialist with 15 years in financial services and investments, Charlotte leads Pensions for Purpose as CEO, focusing on positive impact investment strategies. Comprising esteemed experts from our key client sectors - fund administration, asset management and ethical investing – it offers strategic insights that have been vital to our achievements. Charlotte Valeur's governance and asset management acumen, Michael Weiss's expertise in alternatives fundraising and Charlotte O’Leary’s ESG consulting have collectively enriched our strategic direction. Daniel Jason, founder and Chief Executive of Material Impact, said: “Our mission is to make financial services brands become more visible and more valuable. We do that through a combination of art and science: bringing creativity and business intelligence data together into campaigns that ultimately make a difference to the bottom line.” Material Impact’s core offering combines content, public relations and managed analytics, backed by investment in its analytics software, sets it apart in the industry. As Material Impact celebrates this milestone, it remains dedicated to empowering its clients with data-driven strategic solutions for the years ahead. Notes to Editors About Material Impact Material Impact is a full-service public relations and marketing firm specializing in the financial services sector. With offices in London and Chicago, Material Impact combines industry expertise, innovative strategies, and a data-driven approach to help clients achieve their communication, content and marketing goals. For more information about Material Impact and its services, visit Media Contact: Daniel Jason, Chief Executive:

  • How to Hire a Financial Services PR Agency – A Guide For Fund Administrators

    You’re a marketing, PR or head of business professional in a fund administration firm. Senior leaders have bought into your idea that a PR agency – or a new one – can make a difference to your firm. Congratulations! So how do you go about hiring one? Having worked in both agencies and in-house and been both a provider and buyer of public relations and marketing services, I understand many of the pitfalls – and how to avoid them. In my view, a PR agency should feel like a natural extension of your team, working closely with you to achieve your goals, to protect and enhance your firm’s brand presence in the market. With this in mind, I always split the process into three different parts: Groundwork, Pitches and Proposals, and finally PR Firm Selection. GROUNDWORK - THE INITIAL RESEARCH Define Your Objectives: Clearly articulate what you want to achieve with a PR agency. This can be three bullet points and uncomplicated, but do be specific and attach it to a business need. For example, raising brand awareness in a particular jurisdiction, attracting institutional or retail investors or some kind of issues management. The more specific the better and something that the whole business can recognise that once achieved, is a barometer of success. A real-life example I have is when I was in-house at a large (and at the time, not very well known) US pensions consulting firm and looking to hire a PR agency. The firm had been unable to shake off the notion that they were a hedge fund. This wasn’t only a case of mistaken identity, it could have become an extremely reputationally damaging notion – that a supposedly independent consultant advising clients on which hedge funds to select in their portfolios, in fact ran a hedge fund themselves (another firm written about in the New York Times, and another in Reuters, for actually having secret internal hedge funds, shows the damage this could have caused). Thankfully, my firm really wasn’t running a secret hedge fund, but in my list of three objectives for my PR agency hire, one was “UK and European journalists stop calling us a hedge fund”. The other two were “frequently spotlighting senior business leaders” and “media training including broadcast”. What does success look like to you? Set Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) - And Make Them Contractual: Once you have your objectives, you need some way to measure the path from where you are now, to success. At Material Impact, KPIs are contractual – we consider our clients’ reputation serious business and no place is more fitting for their reputational targets than a legally binding document to ensure those objectives and KPIs are not laying forgotten in a draw, somewhere down the line. Typical KPIs I encourage clients to set – and set myself when I was in house – were set per month and looked something like this (where # is the number of monthly targets): # of ghost-written thought leadership articles. # of media engagements (whether phone call, in person chat or email Q&A). # of blog posts. # of social media posts. Define Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 media outlets. These are all SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound), but emphasis on the "achievable.” A PR firm can’t (or, really shouldn’t) guarantee coverage because they don’t have direct editorial control of where clients want to appear - so it’s not really achievable and they shouldn’t make that promise. However, they should be able to guarantee with certainty that they will write a particular number of articles for you, or have enough conversations with journalists about your firm that they can reliably set up a pre-determined number of engagements with your spokespeople. There will of course be a direct link to these targets and the fee a firm should expect to pay. The higher the targets, the higher the fee, but a good firm will work with you to set KPIs in the context of your needs and budget. The final bullet point – defining media outlets in Tier 1 through 3 should also be a collaborative effort. It’s also different for each firm, no one paper or magazine is a silver bullet for everyone in the world (though the Financial Times and Wall Street Journal come pretty close). Benchmark Where You Are Today: You have your objectives and your KPIs. Are you part of the way to achieving them already or are you at square one? Benchmarking is a good way to see what you’ve already achieved and set the challenge for your agency to surpass. It may look something like this: # of media citations already achieved per year, split into Tier 1 – 3 media outlets. Key titles the firms has existing relationships with. Etc. In the case of the real-world example I gave earlier, changing perception of a firm from a hedge fund to a consultant, I gave a rough percentage of how bad the problem was – how many journalists I had met who expected us to be a hedge fund. It was a high number. Research Potential Agencies and Evaluate Their Expertise: As a fund administrator, you’ll want an agency whose staff has worked with and marketed to asset managers. They’ll need a deep understanding of the niche, the audience and what media they read and what they’re likely to read from you. Then there’s the jurisdictional experience quality. Do they understand the regulatory environment in both your home and target jurisdictions? Having worked with a fund administrator before is a great trait as well, you’ll want to know the individuals selling the firm to the press know a Manco from their elbow, and the concept of owning a fund structure but not the asset shouldn’t phase them. As an agency who works exclusively with fund administrators, asset managers and the industry membership organisations they join, we believe we have an excellent start point to help firms grow their reputation, brand value and leads. The final tip here – I checked out the client base of the firms in questions and held phone calls with current and past clients, many of whom were industry friends. It’s a small world and everyone I contacted was happy to let me know what they thought of the work these agencies had conducted. PITCHES AND PROPOSALS Request & Evaluate Proposals: Ask the shortlisted agencies to submit proposals that detail their strategies, services offered, and how they align with your goals. Assess each proposal against your objectives and KPIs. Look for creativity, strategy alignment, and how well they understand your business. It’s also a great time to assess chemistry: keep in mind everyone is being very careful, and everything is (mostly) rehearsed, but watching your potential hires perform a pitch is valuable intel. It clues you in as to who they are, how they carry themselves and whether you want them talking to you, your team, your internal clients and the press on your behalf, on any frequent basis. Finally, aside from getting a sense of their team and an opportunity to ask questions, pitches and proposals is a great way to gauge an agency’s enthusiasm for and commitment to your firm and the work they’ll be doing for you. Check for Service Versatility: Ensure the agency can offer a comprehensive range of services such as media relations, digital marketing, content creation and crisis management. You don’t want to blow the PR budget on a firm and then be told that crisis comms isn’t in their service offering, for example. Discuss Budgets and Costs: Having honest, open discussions about your budget is best. I did this and some firms decided the budget wasn’t enough for them and they didn’t have to waste their time – or mine and my internal clients’ - on a proposal or pitch when I knew that hiring them wasn’t something that could be considered from a budgetary perspective. Other firms decided the budget was a great starting point and they were confident they could impress and grow their fees with us over time, and for others still the original budget was enough for a long-term relationship. Aside from having open discussions about budget expectations, do get a clear understanding of the agency’s fee structure – what's included? What isn’t? What rate do they charge for extra work? Do they overservice by a percentage of hours and if so how much? At Material Impact, we allow clients a buffer of around 20% of the monthly retainer hours for surprises and before anything else is charged, we speak to the client about priorities. Generally, clients want a firm who won’t down tools in the middle of a campaign. SELECTING THE RIGHT PR FIRM Based on the preceding steps, you should have a good idea of who your new, long-term partner is going to be. If you’re still unsure at this point, consider starting with a trial project or a short-term project contract to assess the agency's work before committing to a long-term agreement. Sometimes the choice is hard – it can be a really close call and PR people can be very friendly and even more convincing. Personally, I wouldn’t make a choice on chemistry alone (though it’s tempting) but on who I believe will give me the best possible results, work best with internal clients - as well as chemistry. A few other tips from this point on: Negotiate Terms: Once you've selected an agency and you’re happy with terms, ensure that the contract includes scope of work, any confidentiality agreements and of course the SMART objectives and KPIs from the first steps in this process. Onboarding: Work closely with the agency during the onboarding process to ensure they have all the necessary information and resources to represent your brand effectively. Are you based abroad? Go and meet your new agency in person, or invite them to you. There is value in treating your new agency as a new hire and training them as you would another member of your team. What topics are red and green lines in press interviews, what’s the process for speaking to senior spokespeople and so forth. I'll leave you with this. The right PR agency is a partner who acts as an extension of your team, offering proactive, responsive, and effective solutions tailored to your firm's specific needs.

  • Building The Agency Of The Future

    This post was written for Material Impact's third birthday. Material Impact specialises in financial services PR and marketing, in particular for fund administrators, asset managers and their membership organisations. Prospective clients often share with me a common narrative of frustration with their current PR agency. They find themselves locked into rigid retainer packages that yield subpar results, lamenting a lack of responsiveness and understanding from their agency teams. I’ve encountered various expressions of this discontent over the years. One client remarked, “Our agency doesn’t seem to grasp what we do,” while another expected more proactive recommendations and follow up on a monthly basis, considering their not insignificant retainer, also paid monthly. A frequent complaint is the agency’s failure to maintain a good pace and standard of work over any length of time - “I guess they’re ok” is commonly heard as a summary of how it’s going. In short, clients often feel neglected, especially when they perceive their agency prioritizing higher-paying clients, or those who have the time to constantly chase up. It's a misconception that these negative experiences make my sales process easier. Instead, these negative experiences are detrimental not only to individual agencies but to the industry as a whole. It breeds distrust in PR and marketing's ability to deliver a solid return on investment, creating a new task, to convince prospects that a partnership with us will indeed be different. No matter how innovative our approach, deep our expertise, or impressive our track record, skepticism remains in the initial meeting due to past disappointments – once bitten, twice shy, as the saying goes. Rebuilding trust once such a prospect becomes a client is a gradual process, but fortunately, the outcomes in our industry are quite binary: media coverage is either achieved or it isn’t, a successful event is hosted or not, campaigns attract leads or it they fall short. There’s nowhere to hide and this clarity of results plays to our strengths, favoring our teams and others who combine expertise with consistently hard work – and that's exactly how we thrive at Material Impact. In fact, that's why, amidst the pandemic, I founded Material Impact. Seeing an opportunity for change, our motto became “Proactive. Responsive. Effective.”, serving as a continual reminder to my team and I to disrupt the traditional agency-client dynamic. So, how are we different? In-House Mentality: We don't have to wait for the client's cue. Our approach is proactive engagement, where we regularly present new recommendations, new ideas and insights, keeping clients ahead of the curve. We begin each week with the thought, “if we were in-house, what would we do?” This mindset cannot be understated, it allows the team to take ownership of their work – they're no longer a third party consultant with no skin in the game, they’re taking the role of a direct employee of the client. This is more than play acting, it’s a reminder that in a very real sense the salaries of the whole team originate from the clients we serve – no bad thing to remember. In fact, this is perhaps the single most important factor that leads to taking ownership of the process and driving consistently positive results for our clients. Flexible Service Packages: Traditional agencies silo services, each department has a different P&L. That means if you’re a firm’s PR client, you don’t necessarily gain access to their other services such as content writing, social media or design without paying an additional fee on top of your monthly retainer, which is carefully guard railed against such a possibility by traditional agency staff. Why shouldn’t the client be able to accordion their unspent fees between services? The agency isn’t losing anything if the annual contract value is honored. Material Impact favors customizable service packages. We write annual plans on the understanding that things can change, business objectives aren’t always set in stone – products are sometimes recalled, fund launches delayed, surprises appear all the time. Simply, we allow clients to choose between the services they need the most, at the time they need them. Finally, as part of this philosophy, we also roll over all unused hours into the next month – too many agencies don’t. It creates a more proactive environment as it makes it incumbent on us as the agency to ensure we’re doing the work – or lose the fee that month. It’s a foolproof way to get the responsiveness many clients expect from an agency. Value-Added Delivery: We recognize that time spent should equate to value added, not just hours clocked. I’ve watched agency staff squirm as they try to justify why 100 hours spent on administration are billed at outrageously high rates. At Material Impact, we don’t want to squirm. We want our clients to believe us when we say, “we did this work because it added value”, so we don’t believe in busy work and we simply charge fairly from the start. In short, this approach encourages efficiency as our team is motivated to work on initiatives that truly advance the client’s objectives. Tailored Strategies: Agency staff the world over are under considerable time pressure, sometimes because they are managing more clients than they have time for. In a time pressured environment, it’s tempting to apply a cookie cutter approach to all clients. What works for one might work for everyone, right? Wrong. Clients have different audiences, different unique selling points, different jurisdictions and different brand tones of voice. What works for one might not work for another. Treating each client as unique, with distinct challenges and goals, address individual client needs, leading to more effective outcomes and higher satisfaction – of both client and agency teams. Benchmarking: Not all, but many agencies don't benchmark their work. Sure, as a client, you get a report of the output for that month. But how does anyone on the receiving end know if the output is any good or not? The "or not" part is what drives a fear of that sort of benchmarking, but it's inherently poor practice at best and dishonest at worst. Material Impact has a dedicated, full service analytics offering that's independent of those executing a strategy. We take benchmarking so seriously that we frequently analyse the media coverage of fund administration firms globally, producing the Fund Administration PR Top 100 (an exercise soon to be conducted for asset managers), the data of which is available in our data and analytics software solution. As far as we know, we're one of the very few firms in this space with a proprietary model for scoring PR work, a cloud-based system to host that reporting on for clients and a frequent, industry-wide PR benchmarking exercise. As we move forward, our commitment to being proactive, responsive and effective remains unwavering. I believe that with the right mindset, flexibility and client-focused approach, financial services PR and marketing agencies can indeed rebuild trust and deliver exceptional value. For my firm, I want Material Impact to be more than just a name, but a promise of impactful, meaningful, and lasting results.

  • The Blueprint for Achieving Top Tier Public Relations Coverage For Financial Services Firms - A Brief Summary

    As we usher in 2024, it's a good time to reflect on the strategies and tactics that constitute successful Public Relations for financial services firms like fund administrators and asset managers. At Material Impact, our recent internal review revealed impressive results: over 90% Tier 1 media coverage, an audience reach surpassing 26 million, and estimated article views topping 358 million, per client since inception almost three years ago. But what really goes into achieving such noteworthy coverage? Let’s delve into the strategies that underpin this success. Understanding the Audience Top-tier PR coverage begins with a deep understanding of the audience - both the journalistic audience and the people they write for. For financial services and especially for fund administration and asset management press, this means grasping the nuances of investor needs, market trends and regulatory landscapes. Tailoring content to speak directly to these points ensures relevance and engagement. Crafting Compelling Narratives The heart of PR is storytelling. In asset management, this could involve illustrating complex investment principles, in fund administration it could be about highlighting the impact of regulatory changes, more generally within financial services it could be showcasing expert knowledge. The key is to present a narrative in a way that resonates with the audience and stands out in a crowded market. Building Relationships with Media Top-tier coverage is impossible without strong relationships with key journalists and publications. Regularly engaging with the media, understanding their interests and providing them with valuable, timely information is appreciated. It's about being a reliable source for them. Leveraging Data and Research Financial services thrive on data. Utilizing robust research and data analytics to back up claims or providing fresh insights is a powerful way to capture media interest. This approach not only lends credibility but also positions our clients as thought leaders in their field. Thought Leadership and Expert Commentary Establishing our clients as experts is a cornerstone of our strategy. Whether it’s through ghost-written articles, research papers, or expert commentary, we ensure that our clients’ voices are prominent in discussions that matter to their clients and their industry. Adapting to the Digital Landscape In today’s digital world, PR is more than just print media. It encompasses online publications, social media and digital news platforms. Adapting our strategies to suit these varied mediums, while maintaining a consistent message, is more important than print. After all, as they say, yesterday's news is today's bird cage liner (or fish-and-chip wrapper as they say in the UK), whereas the internet is forever. Creative and Targeted Campaigns Our campaigns are not one-size-fits-all. They are creatively tailored, targeting specific publications and segments within the financial services sector. This targeted approach ensures maximum impact and relevance. It does take more effort to do this, but the results are worth it. In our experience, taking this approach can double the amount of media interest a story receives. Measuring Success and Iterating Finally, we continuously track our campaigns’ performance, bringing statistics in from Google Analytics and social media, to get a holistic view of how the media is shaping up engagement with our clients' websites. There are more considerations, but these will stand most firms in good stead. I hope you agree that Material Impact's journey thus far underscores a commitment to not only keeping pace with industry changes but also setting new benchmarks for excellence. The future is bright and we are poised to continue delivering exceptional results for our clients in the financial sector.

  • A Toast to Teamwork and Triumph in 2023: Celebrating Our Success at Material Impact Marketing Communications

    As we close the chapter on 2023, it's with immense pride and gratitude that we share Material Impact's outstanding achievements of the year. Our company's recent internal review has highlighted some truly impressive results on average, since inception, per client: a staggering 90% Tier 1 media coverage rate, audience reach surpassing 26 million and a phenomenal count of estimated article views topping 358 million. These numbers are not just metrics; they are a testament to the hard work, dedication and ingenuity of our incredible team, both in Europe and the USA. It's their relentless pursuit of excellence and commitment to our vision that has propelled us to these heights. Our success is also deeply rooted in the trust and collaboration of our valued clients, who have supported us on this journey. This year has been a remarkable one for Material Impact, filled with challenges turned into opportunities, and ambitious goals turned into accomplishments. We thank each member of our team for their unparalleled contribution and our clients for their unwavering support and faith in us. Here's to a year of hard-earned success and to even greater achievements in the years to come. Cheers to 2023 - a year of making a Material Impact!

  • Crystal Ball: 10 Financial PR and Marketing Trends for 2024

    As we look towards 2024, what will the key trends in financial communications and marketing be? I’ve dusted off my crystal ball and here’s what I’ve arrived at. Focus on Authenticity and Transparency: Financial brands are expected to maintain honesty and openness in their communications, prioritising authentic and transparent interactions with their audience. We anticipate this to increasingly become a specific, stated aim of communications and marketing departments, given the huge drive towards ESG. We also anticipate increased take up of external certifications such as B-Corp, certifying a corporate’s dedication to authenticity, transparency and of course sustainability. Continued Shift to ESG and Sustainability Communications: ESG, impact and sustainability have made huge inroads in the past few years compared to where it was even half a decade ago. We believe this shift will continue at pace, leading to marketing and PR departments in asset management, fund administration, financial membership organisations and beyond to focus more on promoting their ESG funds, services and general capabilities. Anti-Greenwashing Legislation Will Keep Us All Busy – Globally: The UK's Sustainability Disclosure Requirements (SDR) have finally been published, the European SFDR has already made its debut and similar moves around the corner in the US and elsewhere are expected. As anti-greenwashing measures intensify, we can expect it to take up more and more of our time. Marketing and PR professionals will work more closely with compliance and legal departments to ensure that pitch decks and publicity campaigns promoting funds cannot be considered greenwashing. Approaches will vary between firms and compliance individuals and therefore between campaigns – and it will be very interesting to see what the differences are between firms. Thought Leadership Will Become Even More Important: As journalists continue to grapple with increased workloads and shrinking newsrooms, thought leadership will continue to increase in importance in public relations. Differentiating thought leadership content will become harder, with marketers and communicators asking themselves what the distinct, value proposition of big content campaigns is, what makes it stand out is – and whether it’s just another copycat piece. AI Integrated Across Marketing & Comms Departments: Businesses are integrating AI into their products across most industries. It will become easier and easier for internal marketers and communications professionals to both access tools utilising AI in their work and to make the case for increased AI in marketing and comms, as their own companies may already be utilising the technology in their own product or service. We believe the role of AI in PR and marketing will pass the various “tests” it needs to pass to become a formal part of our industry. Account Based Marketing & PR: As a side effect of AI taking a bigger role in our industry, I believe people will use it more extensively to personalise communication aimed at clients, prospects and perhaps their own staff, making account based marketing processes more efficient. I also believe using AI in financial services marketing and PR in this way will have a lasting impact on audiences. Use of PR and Marketing Data is Ubiquitous: Tools that unify your marketing and PR data in one place, perhaps in a dashboard (like MiData) will become more widespread, enhancing data-driven decision-making across the industry, another side effect of utilising AI which can process huge amounts of data quickly. Firms not yet utilising such resources will begin to do so more and more, encouraged by the use of AI generally and its ability to quickly analyse large sets of data. Focus on Employer Communications: The difficulty in recruiting talent will push firms to enhance their internal communication strategies to attract top talent, but also to retain who they already have. We’re seeing lot of fund administration and asset management firms, as well as financial services more generally, tighten up on this aspect of their operations over the past two years with increasing urgency. Video Content Becomes the Norm: As attention spans stay short, and fatigue of marketing messages sets in, succinct and engaging video content (with captions) will become the default tool for storytelling. Social Media Influencer Collaborations Decrease: My personal pet peeve, so this one is definitely biased. There is a lot of research suggesting that collaborations with influencers don’t actually work - and having been sceptical of this practice from the start, I’m ready to believe it. Dollar for dollar, pound for pound, there are better avenues for ad spend out there and I believe this will be borne out over the medium to long term. We'll soon discover what 2024 has in store for us. In the meantime, we extend our warmest holiday greetings and best wishes for the New Year to all our clients, prospects, staff and their families.

  • Human vs Machine: Navigating the Realities of AI in Financial Business Communications

    Above: will robots take over marketing, public relations or other communications functions in financial services? The introduction of AI has brought remarkable efficiency and potential for personalised communications across various sectors. This article aims to discuss three critical aspects of AI in marketing communications, highlighting the importance of balancing technology with human interaction and calling for more detailed, practical guidance in using AI in PR and communications. AI Isn’t A Proxy For Genuine Communication The capacity of AI to generate ultra-personalised content with near-instantaneous speed has been acclaimed as a revolutionary development in business communications. This technological leap has simplified complex tasks like account-based marketing (ABM), social media management, press release creation, and other aspects of content-based marketing communications considerably. However, I foresee that the very ubiquity of AI could precipitate its downfall. The gradual integration of text-based generative AI into a diverse range of software – encompassing content management systems, graphic design, email marketing, and even Microsoft’s enterprise suite – is becoming increasingly evident. The easy access and the allure of rapid results are likely to encourage widespread adoption in the marketing and communications space. Yet, this widespread use is likely to result in an over-saturation of AI-generated content, which may eventually become so recognisable that audiences simply dismiss this type of content. As prospects and clients become better at identifying AI content, its effectiveness will diminish significantly until there are no gains to be had from its use at all. This pattern was similar for personalised emails. Initially seen as innovative, the overuse of email in general to promote business, but specifically personalised emails, led to a much diminished impact. Audiences are desensitised to it, they know the personalisation is canned and so the desired effect isn’t had: personalised approaches, including targeted emails and social media messages, no longer outperform generic communications. The canned “personalisation” offered by AI is likely to meet a similar fate, with people becoming increasingly skilled at spotting and disregarding artificially personalised content. Early studies confirm this.1 This certainly means diminished returns across email, but also potentially across social media, advertising, landing pages - and wherever else AI is used. The opposite will be true as well: audiences will begin to start responding better to genuine, human communication. AI as a Complementary Tool In my view, AI must be deployed as a tool to meet strategic goals. Without people who can use AI to develop informed communication or business strategies, AI might actually hinder strategic efficiency. A good business strategy is nothing but a communication enterprise. A solid relationship between firms and clients, for example, must be based on some sort of understanding between the two – something that AI is still incapable of. When it comes to strategic planning, AI can certainly help stakeholders to make informed decisions. However, if not used purposefully, AI will struggle to respond informatively. Instead, AI can streamline and enhance processes, increasing productivity and allowing for a more strategic allocation of one’s time. One of the best uses I have found for AI is to run video or audio through it, generating a written transcript of what has been said. This can be refined further by AI, before being read, whilst following along with the video or audio, and then worked on manually for turning into content. This process cuts down on literal hours of work manually transcribing audio content, before the valuable work of creating thought leadership can actually begin. Most positively, AI like Chat GPT has all but changed the world for those who struggle to write professionally. Using these tools as a guide to creating better content I’m sure has already helped many. However, the reality today is that companies are still in need of human translators to make sense of AI capabilities and put them at the service of communication strategies – not the other way around. Companies succeeding in the digital transformation of their business models were found to be investing equally in the in-house training of staff to incorporate AI into their work routines, and in these new technologies themselves2. The lesson learnt from these industry champions on the use of AI is that technology by itself is not a competitive advantage – especially when it is equally available to you and your competitors. Without the qualified personnel to make the most of it, AI is nothing but a white elephant that will have taken up too much of your time and will end up retuning too little on your investment. The Primacy of Relationships in Financial Services In industries like financial services, where trust and understanding are paramount, the impersonal nature of AI-generated communication will be particularly detrimental. AI is a homogenised form of communication that can lack genuine human touch, after all. While it can customise communication to an individual's preferences or generate near instant results, it will not be able to (yet?) replicate the nuanced, empathetic engagement that human interaction provides. In other words, it sounds robotic because it is. Furthermore, in a sector that thrives on direct, interpersonal relationships, employing AI in public communications could potentially damage the trust and rapport that professionals spend years cultivating. Drawing a parallel with friendships or romantic relationships, where the use of AI in communication would easily be perceived as deceptive, in financial services and other professional services businesses, where trust is paramount and business is personal, similar feelings of betrayal could arise if clients discover their interactions were actually AI-generated. Conclusion and Recommendations The takeaway in all of this is that ultimately, AI cannot replace the give-and-take that underpins a good communication strategy for it lacks what – still only humans – possess: the ability to establish genuine communication between interested parties. Companies should utilise AI but do so responsibly - those who don’t will certainly be left behind. Second, marketing and communication heads need to remember that AI isn't everything. It's important not to get too caught up in it and to keep valuing the real MVPs – your people. They're the ones who truly make things happen.

  • What it takes to change the game: introducing the Share of Voice+ Score for fund administrators

    The PR Pulse: Share of Voice+ Report was created to help marketers and PR professionals in the fund administration industry to assess their client’s presence in the media against their direct competitors’. Through a data-led approach and introducing innovative indicators to monitor performance, the Share of Voice+ Report outlines the media landscape for fund administrators interested in making their media presence stand out. After several months of data collection and analysis reporting, I’m pleased to say that our work has helped identify the successful PR and marketing strategies of fund administrators globally. For instance, the Report highlights how some fund administrators often promote themselves through thought leadership, using content to attract and engage different stakeholders interested in their line of work. Another approach, particularly common to large companies, is to rely on their size to secure the media’s attention. However, the most interesting finding present in the PR Pulse Report is that some companies were able to boost their media presence by consistently appearing in high quality, Tier 1 media outlets and do so consistently through the year, rather than through sporadic campaigns. To account for all the subtleties involved in a carefully laid out PR and marketing plan, the PR Pulse Report introduced the Share of Voice+ Score, an innovative metric used to capture all the nuances behind a successful media insertion strategy. Underpinning the Report is the conviction that the traditional concept of Share of Voice is not suitable to reflect the complexities behind well-executed PR campaigns. Over-reliance on the sheer number of media citations, for example, largely obscures important aspects of every company’s media presence such as outreach to the right audience and the quality of outlets in which mentions occur. Furthermore, Share of Voice alone doesn’t give an indication of brand awareness or the international reach of media coverage. Hence, the PR Pulse Report draws on such metrics as a way of eliciting the qualities behind different, yet equally successful strategies used to establish the media presence of different fund administrators. Working on Material Impact’s PR Pulse Report spanned through several months. In the initial stages of the project, a great part of the work consisted of finding and validating the right data sources to assess the media presence of different companies. At this phase, the most challenging aspect of the work was ensuring that the data collected was comparable across every company in our initial list. By the time that the data collection phase was over, we had assembled an entire database from scratch in which we recorded the performance of over 100 companies according to their presence in the media from July 2022 to June 2023, timeframe assessed by Material Impact’s first edition of the PR Pulse Report. Now, the data analysis phase was by far the most exciting stage of the project. A considerable amount of time was spent analysing the information gathered to understand the patterns and maybe spot some trends hidden in the data. With the assistance of tools for data analysis and visualisation, we were able to evaluate the performance of every company in our database, and we soon realised that we had designed a reliable metric to assess the media presence of some of the largest financial institutions in the world. Our analysis showed that different companies have different ways of standing out from their competitors in the media coverage landscape. However, we contend in the Report that five strategies were the most effectively common. The traditional Share of Voice metric, though slightly outdated, remains an important parameter to measure media’s attention, and thus must be weighted accordingly. We also found that consistency in the coverage and the quality of outlets in which companies are featured are deeply linked to a solid overall presence in the media. The level of online interest for companies’ brands was another important element in assessing the efficacy of PR and marketing strategies of different fund administrators. Lastly, given that these firms operate on a global level, they are often inclined to expand the international reach of their media coverage. After identifying these five different components of media relations strategies, deployed by over 100 fund administrators globally, our attention turned to how we could quantify their performance based on these different approaches. At this stage, the challenge was to create a new and fair metric that could assess and compare companies’ performance in each one of them. Thus, we developed five new performance indicators and ranked all the companies accordingly. Another interesting finding of the report is that although companies can deploy different strategies to establish their media presence, the best performing firms exhibited a multipronged approach. Therefore, we used these five metrics to create the brand-new Share of Voice+ Score, the ultimate indicator for the PR and marketing performance of global fund administrators. The PR Pulse: Share of Voice+ Report ranked companies according to their SoV+ Score, and the top-100 rank can be seen here. The recently published PR Pulse Report is the first of a series of reports meant to track the media landscape for fund administrators. By introducing the SoV+ Score, we at Material Impact hoped to contribute to the betterment of the PR and marketing sector serving fund administrators. Ultimately, we wish to help companies understand how they can improve their media presence through a carefully planned PR and marketing strategy. After the publication of the first PR Pulse: Share of Voice+ Report, I could not be more certain that fund administrators everywhere can benefit a great deal from the work we have done.

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