The New Wall Street Week and What It Means for Financial Communications
After a 13-year hiatus, Wall Street Week has returned to the airwaves. However, things have changed for the once-iconic program — and for financial communications overall.
There was a time when an end-of-week trip to Owings Mills, Maryland, could be a career highlight and a huge business builder for an investment manager, market analyst, or corporate CEO. Wall Street Week with Louis Rukeyser was taped at Maryland Public Television studios in Owings Mills each Friday after the markets closed, and broadcast on PBS nationwide that evening. Spanning three decades and ending in 2002, Wall Street Week with Louis Rukeyser was the first — and for a long time, only — investment program on television. As such, it gained power and influence, enabling its millions of weekly viewers to move markets. The so-called “Rukeyser Effect” often saw a Monday morning price jump for stocks mentioned on the previous Friday’s broadcast.
Hedge Fund Take Over
Today, the program is under new management by a subsidiary of the ubiquitous hedge fund SkyBridge Capital and its founder, Anthony Scaramucci. In addition to being owned and operated by an arm of a company that sells investments, the show is broadcast on commercial networks, hosted by an investment professional (not a journalist), and joins a crowded lineup of broadcast programming focused on markets, investing, business, and finance.
The new Wall Street Week reflects important current trends in financial communications that finance and investment professionals need to embrace if they are to compete and prosper in today’s hypercompetitive marketing environment. As Rukeyser’s occasional PR guy and member of a firm that helps Wall Street executives secure a spot on the weekly, I knew and respected the strong journalistic foundation of the original program.
Maintaining the credibility and independence of the Wall Street Week brand is difficult in today’s media environment. Built on the shifting sands of advertising and subscriptions, media companies in all formats are going to great lengths to stay relevant and alive. That can translate into a new openness among media companies for so-called native advertising, content generation, and other sponsor-driven tools that blur the lines between independent media and commercial interests. That reality is one audiences are often willing to accept (and indeed can hardly avoid) as long as the results provide useful, topical, and accurate information.
New Strategies to Target Audiences
Increasingly, today’s investment managers, analysts, research teams, and the companies they work for are communicating directly with clients and prospects by acting as publishers of media, rather than just participants in it. In order to take advantage of being quoted or interviewed by the media, financial services professionals are not only talking directly with professional journalists, but also reaching out to target audiences via social media, blog posts, infographics, and videos. Posting a white paper on LinkedIn, writing an article for an online forum, or commenting about news on Twitter are only marginally different from Skybridge’s Wall Street Week publishing empire. All of this activity can be highly effective.
The catalyst behind this is the changing way that consumers — retail, high net worth, institutional, corporate, or otherwise — use and access the media, combined with the imperative companies face in defining and differentiating themselves from the competition. Smart firms are embracing these changes and using newfound platforms to directly touch target audiences with thought leadership, content, and demonstrated expertise.
- Though the industry was once highly secretive, today 91% of top global hedge funds have websites and 66% are on LinkedIn.
- 80% of CEOs running the top 50 global companies engage online and via social media.
- Institutional investors are using social media to help guide investment and allocation decisions.
In this environment, financial professionals with firms seeking to grow need an integrated approach to marketing communications. To start, here are some basic strategies and tactics:
- Take a Brand View: Every firm has a brand, defined as the way that its stakeholders (investors, media, partners, etc.) view them. Define what you stand for and take action to build and support that brand.
- Be Strategic: Financial professionals considering building a website or engaging with audiences via traditional media, social media, or other means need to think strategically. What are the communications goals? Who are the target audiences? How will investors react? These are all important questions to ask before exploring new communications channels.
- Engage your Audiences: Explore new ways of communicating. This may mean no change at all. For others, it provides opportunities to engage current and prospective investors in strategic, controlled, and impactful ways.
Today’s changing communications landscape offers many opportunities for firms and executives to better communicate the expertise they have built and the leadership they have established. Doing so can play a leading role in building visibility and awareness, and — ultimately — new business.
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All posts are the opinion of the author. As such, they should not be construed as investment advice, nor do the opinions expressed necessarily reflect the views of CFA Institute or the author’s employer.
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