In my blog yesterday I covered what makes B2B fintech PR different to other sectors as part of the workshop I ran at Fintech Connect. I spent some time canvassing clients, colleagues and friends in the industry to draw up a shortlist of the 10 Dos & Don’ts of fintech PR.
1. Inflate facts & figures – Competition is fierce in the fintech space and revenues, transactions, customer numbers etc. are important to demonstrate growth and momentum. Fintechs need to be clear and consistent on their numbers and how they are measured or leave themselves open to media speculation. This Forbes article questions the context behind Revolut’s customer numbers and what its customer numbers actually mean, are they customers who have just signed up for an account or are they using the banks services? Other articles have since speculated whether Revolut’s associated revenue figures are correct. Once it is public record you will have to keep defending it.
2. Share news publicly until confirmed – No matter how tempting it may be to shout about a big partnership or customer in the pipeline, don’t mention it until it is a done deal. The partner or customer may not like you jumping the gun which could be detrimental for both the deal and your reputation. Stablecoin project, Terra, and its PR agency, Block PR, made this mistake when they announced Softbank Ventures as one of the backers. They subsequently found themselves the subject of an embarrassing Financial Times article.
3. Jump on the hype train – It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that PR is all about making yourself relevant to the biggest market issues to build your profile and get your voice heard. In reality, both investors and the media are wary of over-hype. Take blockchain as an example, once the darling of fintech companies, with some using the word without necessarily even having a good understanding of what blockchain is. Now, companies are avoiding using the buzzword ‘blockchain’ at all as, according to Fortune it can be associated with failure and lower valuations.
4. Disguise paid for earned media – Companies are disguising paid media as editorial coverage, by paying media outlets and influencers for positive reviews. Needless to say, if this comes to light the company will likely take a hit on reputation. This article highlights how big a problem this currently is in the crypto space, and I expect these issues will soon bleed into the fintech space too.
5. Believe PR is a bubble – PR is the real world. Some fintechs don’t realise this and are happy to make outlandish claims and promises without expecting consequences. One of CCgroup’s former clients (that will remain unnamed) didn’t fully disclose regulatory requirements around a new product launch during due diligence and Q&A creation. The Financial Times on receiving the news and doing some digging, realised there was a compliance issue and called the company out publicly. Needless to say, the regulator took interest and both the product and company no longer exist.
1. Be clear on your mission – It is really important that you are clear on your mission both internally and externally. Messaging is critical – as differentiating in a crowded market like fintech is a challenge. Klarna do this really well, they are all about making payments, smooth, simple and easy and you will find these key messages reinforced across all their brand touch points.
2. Know your audience – PR fails if you don’t know who your audience is (and it’s surprising how many don’t). Without this clear focus PR becomes less effective and you are more likely to be spending money without influencing the audience you are aiming to reach. It’s a must do if your PR programme is going to have a tangible business impact.
3. Dare to be different – Branding, messaging and market positioning must help you stand out of the crowd. There are thousands of fintech companies vying for the attention of hundreds of buyers and media outlets, to be attention grabbing you must be different to your many competitors. Be Paymentsense in a world of blue and white branded me-too payments companies.
4. Provide evidence – Thought leadership is great and it can get you far in PR and marketing but the strongest stories are based on hard evidence. Customer advocates, transaction data, planned investment etc. demonstrate material change that will get the industry’s attention. For fintech’s targeting specific vertical markets like manufacturing for example, it’s near impossible to penetrate without customer advocacy.
5. Open up the hood – Fintech is here for a reason. Traditional banks weren’t doing a good enough job. They were/are too opaque, too nefarious, not something you’d trust. Nobody loves their bank, they just hope it doesn’t get in the way. In a world lacking transparency and honesty, openness is powerful. Monzo is a great example of how to get it right. Take the Making Monzo community as an example. The platform is an opportunity for Monzo to update customers on new and upcoming features and Monzo customers to follow progress and make suggestions.