Recently we surveyed a cross section of financial services marketing managers to see how they viewed public relations advisers and what services they thought were most important.
It was part of our business strategy planning for 2018 and while it wasn’t a large cross section of participants or a particularly scientific study, the results were very informative and consistent.
Among the useful information we gained, there were two points consistently made by every respondent:
These two characteristics are of course closely linked. Without industry knowledge It is hard to produce factual and persuasive content that shows an organisation’s technical knowledge and thought leadership.
Unless they are able to understand what it is a client does against the background of an overall industry landscape, consultants cannot add value to brand positioning as well as they should.
Without a specialist understanding of the industry, It is always going to be a challenge for a consultant to interpret detailed and jargon heavy technical papers or marketing collateral into usable copy.
Ignorance of the industry results in unnecessary to-ing and fro-ing, wasted client time and, quite often, inferior content that isn’t up to the job required.
At best it means delayed clearance so that opportunities can be lost or draft copy being binned, never to be used.
At worse, it can lead to frustration by executives within the client organisation, so that they lose confidence in the consultant advising them.
In our survey, the respondents who had dealt with generalist consultancies in the past – or specialist consultancies that made heavy use of junior staff – all commented on their frustration in dealing with them. They spoke of wasting time at meetings and interviews between consultants and executives to get across what was needed, as well as difficulties with the copy clearance process.
The question has to be asked – why should organisations have to teach consultants to get them up to speed on the industry and issues, on their own time and dime? The answer is simple. They shouldn’t.