Six tips for snaring reporters with your market commentary

Chief investment officers, strategists, and portfolio managers sink a lot of energy and brain power into their quarterly market commentary. If you’re among them, your return on investment should include greater visibility in the media.

Here are six tips to help you achieve your publicity goal.

1. Publish your investment commentary – or at least some brief observations – prior to quarter-end.

Most newspapers publish their quarterly stock and bond market report the day after quarter-end. So they must conduct their interviews before asset management firms receive final benchmark returns and other analytical inputs. Journalists can’t wait for you to polish your commentary. Consider writing a first draft of your quarterly commentary two to three weeks prior to quarter-end, so you can send it to reporters on the timetable that works best for them, not you.

In calm markets, you may only need to drop in benchmark returns after quarter-end. This was often the case when I wrote economic as well as stock and bond market commentary with Columbia Management’s chief investment strategist. Even in volatile times, you’re unlikely to find yourself discarding all of your pre-quarter-end writing.

2. “Think different.”

Just as Apple successfully, although ungrammatically, markets itself as different from other computers, you should stress to reporters how your views differ from other investment commentators.

This is easiest when, for example, the crowd fears inflation, but you foresee deflation. But even when you agree with the consensus, you can distinguish yourself with a striking analogy, statistic, or sound bite.

3. Make it easy for reporters to grasp your market commentary’s main points.

Just like you, journalists are busy, so they may only skim your headline or first paragraph. Don’t title your piece “Fourth Quarter 2010 Commentary” or lead with “During the fourth quarter, the S&P 500 returned X.X%…” Instead, smack the reader with your most interesting point. For example, “Trading volume indicators suggest a less volatile 2011.”

Follow your provocative headline with a brief summary of your main points. A few bullet points may make your introduction easier to scan.

4. Connect electronically with reporters.

Your commentary will get stale if you wait to send a professionally printed copy via U.S. mail. This is why I recommend email and social media.

As for email, you’ll get better results if you ask reporters’ permission before adding them to your quarterly email. Plus, a phone call gives you the opportunity to start a personal relationship with the reporters by asking about their “beats” (the topics they cover) and what kinds of sources they need.

Social media are also a great way to circulate your commentary. LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook can get broader exposure for your compliance-approved material with little additional effort or legal risk.

One of the easiest ways to do this is to post your commentary as your Linked In status update, as I explained in “How can I post my investment commentary on LinkedIn?

5. Find reporters who are looking for you.

Your professional association may have a media relations manager who fields requests from reporters looking for sources. Wearing my reporter hat, I’ve often contacted the CFA Institute, Financial Planning Association, and National Association of Personal Financial Advisors for help finding sources. Some associations send email blasts to any members who sign up. Others hand-pick interviewees. Some handle PR locally; others work best at the national level. Contact your professional association to ask how its PR activities work.

6. Make it easy for reporters to work with you.

  • Reply promptly to journalists’ inquiries. They’re almost always in a hurry.
  • Give your full name, title, company name, city, state, and phone number in your emails to ensure any article gets your details right. This also makes it easy for the reporter to contact you with follow-up questions.
  • Listen carefully to reporters’ questions before answering them.
  • Offer to email related materials to the reporter. Sometimes a graph or table can earn you bigger play in an article.

What are you waiting for? You can start today by posting your firm’s third quarter commentary as your LinkedIn status.

Image courtesy of Sujin Jetkasettakorn at