When Jon Ten Haagen dines out at a local eatery or launches a boat from the Northport Yacht Club, he’s often recognized by strangers. Chalk it up to the power of television.
Ten Haagen, whose Huntington, Long Island firm manages $100 million in assets, contributes regularly to News 12 Long Island, which covers Suffolk and Nassau counties, two suburbs of New York City with a combined population of three million people.
While many financial advisors dream about appearing on CNBC or Bloomberg TV because of their national reach, Ten Haagen is quite content with being known locally. In fact, he sees it as a competitive advantage. For him, a growing segment of his clientele resides in proximity of his office, which mirrors the target audience of Channel 12.
“I’m an expert in people’s mind locally,” he said. “’People think, if Channel 12 is interviewing him, he has to know what he’s talking about,’” Ten Haagen noted, suggesting it builds credibility and trust.
Jess Todtfeld, who runs Media Ambassadors, a New York City-based public relations firm, says that most advisors overlook the fact that “local TV is easier to get on” than national news. “And ultimately when prospects and clients see it on the advisor’s website with the logo ABC or Fox News, it offers high-level, third-party credibility,” he said.
In his view, local news has an appetite for tapping advisors and is looking for talent that can interpret the changing financial scene, in layman’s terms succinctly. “With local news, there are less people pitching them, yet they have air to fill like some of the larger outlets,” Todtfeld noted.
When Ten Haagen appeared recently on his bi-monthly segment on Channel 12, he discussed topics such as how people can improve their credit score during the pandemic. He did his homework, distilled his tips to three or four bullet points, and knew he had to be snappy and succinct to fit into the compressed three or four minutes of air time.
During one interview, Ten Haagen noted that with most couples, one person handles the finances, but what happens if the spouse is incapicated? “Get your spouse involved with a financial planner, so when the time comes, they know who to turn to,” he pointed out concisely.
After each of Ten Haagen’s appearances, a marketing person will post the segment immediately on his Facebook pages and YouTube accounts. “It’s like fishing. You set out the bait and you never know who you’re going to catch,” he said.
Having appeared about 15 times on NBC Channel 3 Las Vegas affiliate, Mike PeQueen, a partner at Hightower Advisors in Las Vegas, thinks that local TV fits his clientele better than CNBC or Bloomberg TV. “We’re a two-million person island in the middle of a desert. We’re not a major media market like San Francisco, Los Angeles or Phoenix, so local TV is widely watched,” he said.
PeQueen likes being a public speaker, enjoys doing the interviews, and noted that “it costs zero, and it enhances my ability to meet people and get to know them.”
PeQueen usually undertakes advance research. For example, in a recent segment on reducing credit card debt during a pandemic, he noted that 55% of Americans carry average credit card debt of $4000 to $6000. He does his “homework” and pinpoints one or two salient facts to underscore in the few minutes he has.
Based on his numerous TV appearance on local TV, PeQueen’s said the benefit to his firm, is “Our brand is more valuable. People understand who we are, know who we are, and affluent people have us in their consideration. We don’t have to sell our firms to new prospects; they generally know who we are.”
Todtfeld notes that the time is ripe for financial planners to make appearances on local news throughout the country because so many people are gravitating toward Skype and Zoom. For example, Todtfeld recommended Harry Abrahamsen, a New Jersey based financial advisor, as an expert, which led to his appearing on Fox 26 local news in Houston.
Nabbing an interview on local TV is only a first step, suggested Todtfeld. “All the magic happens after the interview takes place,” he emphasized. The local TV interview with the financial expert yields, “visibility, publicity and third-party credibility,” which are all starting points, Todtfeld suggested.
The secret to having an interview generate new clients, and an enhanced reputation depends on four factors, he said: email marketing, social media, posting the clip on your website, and patching your office wall with several of the TV station logos to enhance credibility.
Todtfeld offers these tips for financial advisors looking to nab an interview on a local station:
• He trains his clients to offer “style and substance.” First you have to look the part, dress appropriately, use body language, and convey charisma.
• Substance-wise, advisors need to be clear, firm, and offer a definitive opinion, based on experience and/or research. “No one likes experts who are wishy-washy,” he exclaimed.
• Be authentic. That’s a necessity in today’s unsparingly hypercritical social media universe. Don’t be too wonky or use jargon that the layman won’t understand. Don’t dodge the question, but answer it head-on and straightforwardly.
• Be concise. Often these segments can last three to four minutes at the most, and sometimes there are two experts compressed into that limited time frame.
• Focus on delivering a strategy and solving a problem. What can the consumer do to protect his/her assets during a pandemic in two or three steps?
• Financial advisors don’t necessarily have to hire a publicist to get on local TV. Services such as Cision and Meltwater provide media lists of who to call or email for annual subscriptions that cost about $3000 to $5000 a year.
From a publicist’s viewpoint, it’s challenging to leverage a local TV appearance into an appearance on CNBC or Bloomberg TV, Todtfeld noted. “No one wants to be second best,” he said.
Financial advisors can fall into traps when being interviewed on local TV that can damage – not enhance – their reputation. The biggest pitfall occurs when advisors “tend to wing it, which can lead to pretty shaky results. They come across as unsure or uncertain,” Todtfeld said, adding that no one wants to hire an ill-prepared financial advisor.
And not every savvy media expert is convinced that local TV is the most likely route for advisors to take to generate coverage. Scott Gamm, managing director of New York City-based PR firm, Strategy Voice Associates, says most local New York metropolitan TV stations don’t book advisors but rely on their on-staff consumer reporters to offer timely financial stories and tips.
Yet Karina Mitchell, a business anchor at Spectrum NY1 News, local news, which covers the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, interviews analysts and advisors on occasion. She relies on her “database of contacts” gleaned from years of working in the industry.
When she needs a financial expert with a unique angle, Mitchell summons a PR rep, taps an industry contact or searches LinkedIn.
“The bigger outlets are shinier-looking,” Todtfeld concluded, but the playing field is leveled by social media and email marketing and once that clip reaches the advisor’s website with the ABC/CBS/NBC/Fox logo, it leaves the prospect with the idea that this advisor is an expert, knows what he or she is talking about, and can help build their financial wealth.