“High net worth” in your financial marketing

A copyediting project spurred me to think about how to use “high net worth” to describe investors. First, should you hyphenate “high net worth” when using it as an adjective? Second, is “high net worth” a useful term for communications with prospective clients?

“High net worth” and hyphens

My gut told me to use hyphens in “high-net-worth” investor.” I checked my gut with a survey. The survey’s first question asked, “Which of the following is correct? They differ in hyphenation.”

The results? A tie between “high net worth investor” and “high-net-worth investor.”


Here’s what some fans of the unhyphenated “high net worth” said.

  • “Using two hyphens in a three-word modifier feels like overdoing it.”
  • “I just don’t like to hyphenate.”
  • “The phrase is clear without hyphens. Why clutter the page?”

The anti-clutter commenter mentioned The Associated Press Style Book, which says:

Use of the hyphen is far from standardized. It is optional in most cases, a matter of taste, judgment and style sense. But the fewer hyphens the better; use them only when not using them causes confusion.

Avoiding confusion is one reason that some readers favored hyphenation. They wanted to ensure that no one thinks the investors are high on drugs instead of net worth. “You need two hyphens to make things crystal clear,” said one respondent. I agree. I see high-net-worth as a compound modifier.

I don’t always hyphenate compound modifiers. When in doubt, I look at how respected sources, such as The Wall Street Journal handle the term. It hyphenates “high-net-worth investor,”as you can see in “Voices: Joshua Coleman, on Using a ‘Quarterback’ to Serve High-Net-Worth Clients.”

Whether you hyphenate or not, please pick one style and stick to it.

“High net worth” and your prospects

High net worth (HNW) is a useful term for discussions among financial professionals. But, when your prospects read “high net worth” do they think, “Yes, that’s me”?

The people whom you see as HNW may not agree. They may see themselves as middle class according to “Who You Calling Affluent?”, a study by CEB Global that’s no longer available online. (By the way, I typed the study title accurately. I checked multiple times to make sure that there was no “are” in it.)

The study says:

Only about 20% of the consumers we identified as affluent ($100K+ HHI and/or $100K+ in investible assets) considered themselves, or their income brackets, to be affluent. Even more surprising, more than half of consumers with household income above $500K per year or more than $5 million in investible assets don’t accept the “affluent” moniker, revealing a true discomfort with the term.

Before I found this CEB study, I polled my readers, asking “What’s the best way to refer to your target audience in marketing materials aimed at investors who have a high net worth?”

Only 25% chose “HNW.” “Affluent investors” was the most popular choice.


In favor of HNW, here’s what one person said, “Per my advisor friend: ‘Wealthy or affluent. It’s subjective but people with wealth are aware that they have it. HNW is an industry term that makes them feel like a trophy. Generally I find people start considering themselves wealthy when they have 1-2 million of investable assets, 5 million+ in real estate, or a 10 million+ operating company.’”

More commenters favoring HNW said

  • “Everything else is gauche, especially since we’re in such a polarized climate in terms of income inequality.”
  • “I don’t think people like to think of themselves as affluent or wealthy.”

Another person who favored “affluent” commented that the term “throws a big net.” That’s an interesting point. Among some audiences, “affluent” refers to investors one rung below HNW. According to one definition, “affluent” ranges from $100,000 to $1 million in investable assets. HNW starts at $1 million, according to this example.

A respondent who voted for “Investors with more than $__ to invest” said, “Nobody likes to be labeled. A dollar figure gets straight to the point and is completely objective.” Identifying specific dollar levels was much less popular than using a broad label. However, I was interested to see that a 2015 ad by Bessemer Trust stated “Minimum relationship $10 million.” It seems as if most firms targeting individuals or families are vague about how rich their new clients must be. Perhaps specificity gets easier as your minimum account size rises and it becomes more important to screen out prospects with insufficient assets.

Another respondent suggested using the term “individual investors as opposed to institutional.”

Personally, I’m not wild about using labels such as HNW outside our industry. I liked this respondent’s answer, “I don’t usually refer to their net worth. I focus on where they are in their financial life: nearing retirement.”

Thank you, respondents!

I’m grateful to everyone who answered my questions and shared their thoughtful comments. Thank you!

Improve your speeches and deepen your family ties

Want to improve the expressiveness of your voice when you speak? Try the technique that my speaking coach taught me. It livened up my speeches. Plus, an unexpected benefit was that my twist on her technique also deepened my relationship with my husband.

Read children’s books to improve your speeches

ozma of ozOzma of Oz sent me on the path to better speaking. That’s the first book I borrowed from the library after I got my coach’s advice.

Her advice? Read children’s books out loud with exaggerated expression. Somehow it’s easier to speak in an extreme way when imagining a little kid listening. Plus, it’s more fun to ham it up with “You’re in a pretty fix, Dorothy Gale, I can tell you!” than with a dry statement about asset allocation or financial planning.

“Practice makes perfect,” as they say. My expressiveness grew with this technique. Of course, there was still room for improvement. But I wasn’t going to make Oz books a staple of my reading. What to do?

Read newspapers to improve your speeches and your relationships

I had an inspiration. While on a longish car ride to a bicycle trail, I asked my husband, “Can I read articles from the newspaper’s travel section to you?” We both love to travel, but my husband often doesn’t get through the entire travel section.

It’s a win-win. I practice my vocal expression; my husband absorbs travel stories he might otherwise miss. Also, it keeps the two of us talking when I might otherwise read a book.

YOUR speaking tips?

If you have tips for improving one’s speaking skills, please share. I enjoy learning from you.

By the way, if you’re looking for a speaking coach, I highly recommend Cheryl Dolan.


Disclosure: If you click on the Amazon link in this post and then buy something, I will receive a small commission. I only link to books in which I find some value for my blog’s readers.

Lessons from my headshot photo disaster

Susan Weiner

I’m thrilled by how this photo turned out

Your headshot photo shows up a lot. It’s not only on your company’s website. It’s also on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Gmail, other social media, and other sites where you log in with your social media credentials or upload photos.

Your photo is part of your marketing so you want a photo that looks professional and attractive. It should also be recent enough that people can recognize you.

I learned some lessons from a failed attempt—and my eventual success—at updating my headshot photo. I hope they help you to do better the next time you update your photo.

1. Value the crowd’s wisdom in assessing your headshot photo

“Ugh, that’s me?” That was my reaction to viewing the proofs from my initial photo shoot. However, I know I’m very picky so I asked my friends, “Which photo do you like best?” Perhaps I could learn to like the crowd’s favorite.

One photo proved most popular, but so did suggestions that the photographer had photographed me at a bad angle and with unflattering lighting. The suggestions, which came from people whom I trusted, prompted me to present their comments to the photographer. In our email exchange, I learned that my friends were right. The photos were bad, due to the photographer’s response to my glasses.

2. Ask your headshot photographer about your glasses

Ask your photographer if your glasses will pose a challenge. This question hadn’t occurred to me. After all, the same photographer took a perfectly fine picture of me in my glasses some years ago. However, I learned after seeing my proofs that the photographer had had two problems with my current pair. First, my lenses turn dark in the sun. Second, they lack an anti-glare coating. To work around the reflections, the photographer made choices that didn’t flatter my appearance.

3. Fix the glasses problem

I arranged for a photo re-shoot and decided to do whatever I could to make it more successful.

My key move involved my glasses. To avoid the reflectivity problem, I got the lenses popped out of an old pair of glasses. The store where I bought the glasses did it for me, to avoid damaging the lenses.

If you wear glasses, but lack old frames, you have options:

4. Fix other problems

You can also tackle other issues, such as clothing, hair, and makeup. In a sense, I was lucky because my bad headshot let me work on issues that weren’t caused by the photographer’s lighting or angle.

Your issues will differ from mine, but here’s what I did for my headshot photo re-shoot:

  • Picked a jacket that fit better
  • Added a red scarf to flatter my coloring
  • Wore brighter lipstick and more blush—even though I was already wearing more makeup than usual
  • Grew my bangs longer—my hair stylist had despaired of getting me to grow them longer since I like to keep my hair out of my face, but seeing my initial round of photos convinced me that she was right
  • Made an appointment to get my hair professionally blow-dried the morning of my photo shoot instead of doing it myself—I even got the bit of the gray in my hair professionally colored because I found it distracting in the initial round of photos
  • Brought a friend with me to the photo shoot to help me relax so my smile would be reflected in my eyes as well as my mouth—as a bonus, the friend also arranged my scarf far better than I would have done on my own

YOUR photo tips?

I’m not a photo pro. If you have tips for great headshot photos, please share.

Here are some links that a photo-savvy friend, Dianne Highbridge, author of In the Empire of Dreams, a novel about expatriates in Tokyo, sent me:

Camera lens photo image courtesy of Sura Nualpradid at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

How to prepare for your podcast interview

You’ve been invited to be a guest on a podcast. How exciting! This could help you reach more members of your target audience. But, if you’re like me, excitement quickly turns to fear. In this post, I share what I learned when I prepared to be interviewed for a podcast.

1. Ask for the questions in advance

Some people can handle any questions gracefully without advance preparation. However, most of us do better with time to reflect.

Ask your interviewer to share questions in advance. It’s often not practical for interviewers to share a complete list. After all, your live interaction should inspire new questions. However, an initial list will help you to prepare.

2. Decide on your main messages

A big-picture strategy will focus your preparation and the comments you make during your live interview. That makes it easier on you. I like the tips in “Creating Your Message: A Seven-Part Series” by Brad Phillips on the Mr. Media Training blog.

Your listeners benefit, too. Your narrow focus makes it easier for them to learn from your interview, as you repeat and deepen their understanding of your message.

Have stories ready

Stories will make your message memorable. “A story can be your personal story, an anecdote, a case study, a historical example” or something else that makes your message more concrete. Mr. Media Training explains this in more detail in “Telling Powerful Stories.”

Prepare sound bites, not soliloquies

Sound bites—catchy phrases—make it easier for your listeners to absorb your message. I like how Mr. Media Training explains them in “Sizzling Sound Bites.” Also see “Ten Ways To Create Memorable Media Sound Bites.”

Another advantage of sound bites: They’re easier for you to remember. That’s helpful if you’re trying to speak without looking at notes.

Use statistics

Numbers that resonate with your listeners will increase your impact on your listeners. They’ll make you more memorable. Mr. Media Training’s “Don’t Use Numbers—Use Social Statistics” explains this.

Know your goals

Sure, you want to educate and maybe even entertain your podcast listeners. But you also have a bigger goal. Perhaps it’s to promote your book or interest people in your investment or wealth management services. Make sure you work that into your conversation.

If possible, ask your interviewer to mention your services or products in her or his introduction. If you have a freebie or other special offering, it’s good to mention that in the closing.

3. Prepare and test your technology

If podcasts aren’t a regular part of your routine, get comfortable with the technology before you’re interviewed.

At a minimum, test your technology in advance. For example, ahead of recording a podcast via Skype, I installed the latest version of Skype, tested and fixed the settings for the microphone that plugs into my PC, and had a friend call me via Skype. If I hadn’t done that, my interview might have been cancelled by my microphone problems.

4. Practice

Practice helps. At least, it helps if you’re a slow-thinking introvert like me. When I speak my answers out loud, I develop new ideas. Also, my words flow better in live interviews if I’ve mulled them over in advance.

However, I’ve learned to avoid memorizing answers word for word. That saps their energy. I do, however, type up some bullet points. Their availability calms me, even though I try not to look at them during live interviews.

As part of my preparation, I collected some techniques for gaining time to think about questions for which I wasn’t prepared:

  1. Say “That’s a great question.”
  2. Paraphrase or clarify the question.
  3. Say “I don’t know about that, but what I do know…”—this is a way to sidestep difficult questions or to get your interview back on your message.

5. Prepare your environment

On your interview day, do whatever you can to ensure you’re speaking in a calm, quiet environment. For example, turn off or mute any sources of disruptive noises. For my most recent podcast, I put my landline phone in “Do not disturb” mode and shut down Microsoft Outlook so a task reminder wouldn’t beep at a bad time.

6. Have fun!

Approach your podcast with good preparation and a positive attitude. With a good interviewer, you’re bound to have fun.


Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Should your investment commentary be different?

“Should your investment commentary present a distinctive point of view?” That’s the great question posed by a participant in one of my presentations on “How To Write Investment Commentary People Will Read.”

My answer? It depends.

What is the distinctive point of view?

If a distinctive point of view means ideas that hold their own vs. leading investment strategies, that’s easier said than done. Not everyone can be an original thinker.

Another challenge: Competing with top investment strategists may also require access to world-class data to support your contentions. That may be tough if you’re at a small company with limited resources.

On the other hand, ideas aren’t the only way to distinguish yourself. You can stand out with the way you express your ideas, instead of the actual content of your commentary. Perhaps you show some personality or you’re an elegant or humorous writer.

Your audience matters

Investment commentary that displays thought leadership appeals to some audiences more than others.

For example, if you sell your firm’s tactical asset allocation services, readers will care about the originality and accuracy of how you assess markets. In short, thought leadership matters if it is an important part of your appeal as an investment manager.

Some readers won’t care whether your ideas are original or common. This is particularly true of individual investors. I believe they’d rather know that you understand them and their needs. In their case, investment commentary explaining how a recent event or trend affects their portfolio may be more powerful than groundbreaking commentary on the stock market.

What do YOU think?

I’m curious to learn your thoughts on this topic. Please comment.

8 lessons from my marketing mishaps

As I reflect on 2014, I’ve learned some lessons that may help you. Two of my anchor clients—clients who gave me work at regular intervals—took their work in-house last year. Although a couple of one-time projects replaced that income temporarily, I eventually fell behind. Catching up would have been easier if I’d done some things differently.

Lesson 1: Don’t stop marketing

Complacency plus unrealistic expectations. That’s what hurt me.

On the complacency front, I had stopped actively contacting new prospects because I had plenty of work. I didn’t want to have to turn away work that I was too busy to take on. I did, however, continue raising people’s awareness of me in a general way via social media, my blog, my weekly and monthly e-newsletters, and public speaking.

As for unrealistic expectations, I’d dreamed that publishing my book, Financial Blogging: How to Write Powerful Posts That Attract Clients, would sweep my business to new heights. Publishing my book was a wonderful experience. I’m thrilled by the enthusiastic reviews from my readers. I’m confident that it has brought me to the attention of new people. However, the book hasn’t directly created scads of new business for me.

Lesson 2: Use LinkedIn to meet targeted prospects

Following the advice of some fellow writers, I experimented with sending letters of introduction (LOIs) to a group of prospects. I used LinkedIn’s search function, focusing on keywords, to identify people who might hire me. Then I sent a letter of introduction via LinkedIn that focused on how I could help them, rather than how they could help me.

I gained three new clients from LOIs in 2014. Though some may call that a low success rate, it nicely complemented clients gained from other sources.

Lesson 3: Be politely persistent

People can’t hire you if they don’t have a need. That’s why polite persistence pays by keeping you in front of your prospects until they’re ready to hire.

When I meet people, I ask if I can add them to the distribution of my monthly e-newsletter of practical communications tips tailored to financial professionals. It’s great if I can win their permission to enter their email inbox. Sometimes that gentle reminder is the key to winning new business. However, I don’t add people without their permission. My newsletter has been an ongoing source of new business for me.

If somebody sounds like a great prospect for me, I try to follow up quarterly with a quick email asking about current needs. When possible, I share a link to an article of interest to that person. I’ve gained work this way, too.

Lesson 4: Go with the flow when new opportunities arise

Sometimes opportunities take you in new directions. In 2014, my opportunities to speak for pay to professional associations and corporate clients increased dramatically. It felt as if most of these opportunities fell into my lap. However, in every case I had some sort of personal connection with the organization through my newsletter, social media, or previous speaking engagements.

Feeling very pleased with the response I received from my audiences, I shared the information via social media and in my newsletters. Talking about my paid speaking gigs generated more opportunities. In fact, one time a simple tweet saying that I’d like more paid speaking gigs led directly to a new opportunity, as I described in “Secrets of a speedy sale via Twitter.”

Lesson 5: Try something new

I wondered about offering new products or services to attract business from individuals instead of large companies, which spurred me to offer my first self-sponsored paid webinar. In June 2014 I delivered a webinar version of “How to Write Investment Commentary People Will Read,” which I’ve also presented to CFA societies and corporate clients.

I was pleased with the enrollment and student participation. The technology drove me crazy, but that’s another story, which I’ve described in “Tech tips for your educational webinar–Learn from my experience.”

The webinar helped me indirectly, too, by giving me something to talk about with prospects and others.

Not every new initiative paid off with big sales. I’m glad I created Investment Commentary: Best Tips from InvestmentWriting.com, but it took time to recoup my production costs. It’s hard to make a significant amount of money from selling inexpensive items in a narrow niche.

Lesson 6: Fine-tune your old techniques

My newsletter has been the foundation of my success, but sign-ups have lagged somewhat over the past year or so. As I discussed in “Your call-to-action choice makes a difference,” I initially thought the position of my call-to-action box was a problem. I moved the box back to the upper right-hand corner of my website. That seemed to help some. Still, new newsletter sign-ups lagged previous levels.

I mulled over adding a pop-up newsletter subscription box to my website. I don’t like them on the other people’s websites, but people whom I respect reported that pop-ups boosted their sign-ups. I heard this from Michael Kitces of Nerd’s Eye View, Blane Warrene, and fellow writers. Dave Grant of Finance for Teachers boosted my interest further when he guest-blogged for me on “How and Why to Use Sliding Pop-ups.”

I added the free SumoMe pop-up at the end of September 2014. Since then my newsletter sign-ups have increased. About one-third to two-thirds of my newsletter sign-ups come via the pop-up, according to my weekly reports.

Lesson 7: Track your results

Look at what techniques have yielded new clients in the past. I describe my approach to this analysis in “Learn what works in winning clients.” I’m able to write this blog post because I look at which tactics yield new clients.

I wish there were a quick and easy formula for me to win new clients. But there isn’t. My new clients come from a diverse array of sources including referrals, my newsletter, my LOIs, and my general presence on the Web. One new client told me, “I see your name everywhere.”

Lesson 8: Get your focus right

Your website should clearly communicate your business focus. If it doesn’t, you’ll get inquiries from people who aren’t a good fit for your services and products.

I’m still working to get this right. My online presence attracts more individual advisors than marketers and other managers from larger investment and wealth management firms, the ideal clients for my writing and editing services.

This mismatch is my own doing. I like writing blog posts that help individuals learn how to write better. My book, Financial Blogging: How to Write Powerful Posts That Attract Clients, is a self-help manual for these folks. I can’t stop writing this kind of content because I enjoy it too much. I also get satisfaction from my paid speaking gigs about “Writing Effective Emails” and “How to Write Investment Commentary People Will Read” for local groups of the CFA Institute and Financial Planning Association.

It’s time to tweak my website messaging. Emphasizing my white paper and commentary work to attract more ideal clients is on my “to do” list for 2015.

What about YOU?

Do you see ways that these lessons might apply to you? What are you doing to fine-tune your marketing this year?

Image courtesy of  KROMKRATHOG at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Note: updated on September 23, 2021

Guest bloggers: 2014 in review

Looking for marketing and writing tips from diverse experts? Check out the posts from my 2014 guest bloggers listed below!



Social Media


How and Why to Use Sliding Pop-ups

Email lists are a key part of online marketing for financial advisors—and for me, too. I was intrigued when advisor Dave Grant told me on Facebook that he was using a sliding pop-up with a chat function to get more mileage out of his website. His guest post below resulted from our discussion.

How and Why to Use Sliding Pop-ups

By Dave Grant

One problem advisors have is building a credible email list in order to share their thoughts with a list of prospects to ultimately gain new business. The old way was meeting someone and then asking to add them to your mailing list. But in the age of more interaction online, you need a way to capture visitor information of those whom you may never meet in person. This is where pop-ups come in.

By offering a newsletter / free report / video series for visitors to your website, you can obtain their names and email addresses to add them to your list and, potentially, a drip marketing campaign. However, static opt-in boxes are often ignored, so how do you get that valuable information?

It may be time to use a pop-up. Pop-ups on websites can be annoying, but they have been proven by multiple marketing studies to increase visitor engagement through newsletter opt-ins because they are dynamic on the page. Instead of a pop-up in the middle of the screen, there is now an alternative that’s less annoying but still effective: the sliding pop-up.

Usually situated in the bottom left- or right-hand corner of a website, this box can transition in after a set period of time or when someone hits the end of the page, making readers notice the opt-in box. However, it’s not annoying like a traditional pop-up that blocks the reader’s view of the screen. When you use your company’s branding on these opt-in forms, they look like an extension of your site rather than a standard opt-in form. Many advisors find pop-ups increase their newsletter opt-in rates.

I’ve taken the pop-up one step further by adding a chat program.

While I still have static opt-in forms on throughout my site, I use the sliding pop-up on the bottom of my screen with a chat program. When people get to the end of an article, or after a set time period, the chat box slides up and I introduce myself with template text. From there, people can ask questions and interact with me in real time. Look at the image to see a screenshot of the initial view of my pop-up. Notice “Click here to get help” in the lower right-hand corner? That’s where you can start to chat with me.

finance for teachers

I’ve seen my conversations, not just opt-ins, with potential clients increase dramatically using this method. Now my website averages one good prospect conversation per week instead of the one per month I gained from the “Schedule an Appointment” button on my website.

If you’re wondering how to implement this strategy, there are many sliding pop-up options for advisors who use WordPress. You can download them as a plugin and adjust the wording yourself. To add your firm’s branding may require a web designer to write some code. Some options include AppSumo List Builder, Bounce Exchange, and OptIn Monster. There are also free options.

For my chat pop-up, I use ClickDesk. I like that it sends a chat transcript to my email once the chat closes.


Dave Grant, CFP(R) is the founder of Finance of Teachers, a fee-only financial planning firm in Cary, IL, serving teachers, primarily in Illinois. He is also a columnist for Financial Planning magazine, writing about issues facing Gen Y advisors. His recent book “The First Year” discusses the challenges of the first year of running his RIA, tips on how to be successful, and is available on Amazon KindleiBook, and through The Mercato.

Boost your newsletter list’s power with this tip

Nov 2013 newsletter page 1

Click to receive a free special report when you subscribe to my newsletters

If your newsletter is a good source of prospects who turn into clients, this tip can help you boost its effectiveness. Contact people who land on your “bounce” list when your newsletter stops reaching them. Your message is a gentle reminder of your availability. Plus, updating their email addresses means you’ll still be in touch with them once they feel a pressing need for your services or products.

I have at least one client whom I can directly attribute to this practice. A newsletter subscriber introduced me to the key people at his firm when the firm finally had a need for my services. This wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t asked for the subscriber’s new email address after my newsletter bounced back from his email address at his previous job.

Another reason to follow up on bounces is because bounces hurt your email address’ reputation. This can reduce the deliverability of your emails.

Here’s a process you can follow:

  1. Assess why the email bounced. If an email bounced because the recipient’s inbox is full—and the bounce is a one-time event—you can wait to follow up. If your emails have been bouncing for awhile, it’s worth following up.
  2. Look at the individual’s LinkedIn profiles. If an individual has changed jobs, it’s obvious that you need a new email address. If there’s no change, it may be that the firm’s service provider is blocking your messages for some reason. Perhaps because your newsletters seem spammy or it doesn’t like your newsletter service provider. Sometimes I suggest that people re-subscribe from a personal email address, rather than battle their technology providers.
  3. Contact the person via a LinkedIn message, if you’re connected. You could try the email address in your database, but that so rarely works that I’ve given up trying that. Now I go straight to LinkedIn. I usually use a subject line along the lines of “May I update your email address?” I keep the body of the message short: “You subscribed to my Investment Writing newsletter, but it has been bouncing. May I update your email address?
  4. Try other methods if you’re not connected on LinkedIn. You can use LinkedIn InMail to contact people with whom you’re not connected, if you have a Premium account or pay a fee. You could also contact the individuals with a LinkedIn connection request, mentioning your newsletter. Or, you can go the firm’s website to see if you can figure out the person’s email address or use a contact form to reach them.
  5. Update your e-newsletter list. This means inputting new email addresses and removing the email addresses of people who don’t respond or who ask to be removed.


Follow these steps and you’ll boost your email deliverability and maybe even land some new business.

The silver bullet for attracting more readers

Media coverage can boost your visibility, helping you to attract more clients. Joanne Cleaver, a fellow member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, suggests in her guest post that you expand your ideas of the topics on which you’d like to be quoted.

The silver bullet for attracting more readers

By Joanne Cleaver

If you know enough to write regularly about investing and financial planning, you know enough to be quoted. But how can you elevate your hand-built riser into a national platform?

The best way to gain expert status is to be quoted by journalists. Their responsibility is to present credible information in context. When your expertise adds clarity, insight and experience that brings an article to life, you will become a go-to source. That establishes you as an expert and builds your reputation .

That’s all well and good. But how do you get started? Here’s how to break the anonymity trap of not being quoted because you aren’t known, and not being known because you’re not being quoted.

First, sign up for HelpAReporterOut.com.

For $19 a month, HARO delivers to your inbox a daily list of requests from journalists looking for immediate sources for stories they are working on now. Simply reviewing the requests helps you detect what journalists need.

Your initial reaction will be to respond only to requests that seek financial experts. With 50 or more HARO requests daily, it’s only a matter of time before you find a request for precisely your technical and advisory expertise. And offering quotable, useable financial insight is a great way to win media mentions.

But you have more to offer than professional commentary. Your life experience—as a parent, a business owner, a volunteer—also is invaluable fodder. For example, you might respond to a reporter search for parents who have recently navigated the college application and financial aid process. Your pitch would pivot on your experience as a parent who’s better informed than most on financial topics, but you’d also be interviewed about your frustrations and feelings about financial aid.

Responding to a HARO request that appears tangential to your professional expertise does two things: it opens a relationship with the journalist, and it is a chance to showcase personal insight that rounds out your professional reputation and presents you as human, empathetic and approachable.

Both types of media mentions—professional and personal—build reputation and blog readership…as long as that silver bullet hits your target audience.


A former daily newspaper deputy business editor, Joanne Cleaver helps professionals develop and deliver the right messages to the right audiences through media and communication training. Learn more at http://wilson-taylorassoc.com/media-training.