Turning over the calendar to 2023 was a much needed, if only symbolic, fresh start for many fintech companies. While the public and private markets took a beating in 2022 in anticipation of an eventual official recession, I believe this year we will see a serious pruning of the fintech landscape.
Some will seek an exit via acquisition by a larger fintech or financial institution and some will unfortunately fold under the pressure and close down. But most, if not all, will be looking for ways to tighten their belts and run as lean as they ever have in an effort to weather the storm and press onward in their missions to disrupt the financial services industry for the better.
Against this backdrop, I’m reminded of the well-known and often-cited Sun Tzu quote from The Art of War, “in the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity.”
If your company is on sound footing, with a solid roster of clients and a well-defined innovation roadmap, there is a tremendous opportunity to not only weather the economic storm, but to stand out from the pack. While others are going quiet as they batten down their hatches, some companies will continue telling their stories and gain critical share of voice in the market.
The fact remains that as fintech has grown as an industry in the last decade plus since the financial crisis, it has brought forth many innovations that have raised the bar when it comes to providing products and services to consumers. These companies are now essential to how the industry functions. This means that even in a down economic or market cycle, the strongest not only will survive; they have to.
As we look to 2023, here are three of the most important considerations fintech companies should keep in mind as they put together their communications and PR plans to take advantage of the chaos and seize the opportunity out there.
1. Executive profile building to fortify brand identity and amplify reach
The CEO of a company can often be the biggest asset (or liability) for the health of a brand. While it may seem like an obvious statement, especially when CEOs of fortune 100 companies are essentially celebrities and an extension of brands themselves, this is becoming true even as you drill down into the middle market and is even the case with growth or early-stage startups.
From that premise, there are enormous brand benefits to be had when companies expand the promotion of their leader to include their executive leadership team. Executive profiles can be built through a combination of being quoted in trend articles; writing their own articles for sharing on the company website, through social media, and potentially placed in target media; speaking engagements; awards; videos; and podcasts. The point is to build awareness and credibility by demonstrating their understanding of the industry and to share their unique point of view.
The benefits of having strong executive profiles serves two key purposes. First and foremost, they are the strongest ambassadors to uphold a company’s brand. No matter the market conditions, a company’s employees, clients, investors, and the public are going to be looking to its executives for answers and accountability. So, the more work you put into developing strong platforms for these executives, the better off your brand will be.
Second, fintech companies in particular still vastly underestimate the reach of their executives’ networks on LinkedIn, Twitter and other social media channels. When done right, these can be powerful amplifiers for a brand with a story to tell. Before leveraging your executives’ social media profiles, though, it’s important to do a thorough audit to make sure they are up to date and in alignment with the brand.
2. Diversify your thought leadership pipeline, both in terms of format and distribution
This has been a common discussion in PR circles for years, but it still bears repeating. Many fintech companies have yet to fully realize the potential of building a diversified owned media program to develop, refine, and promote their thought leadership in the market.
When we work with clients who are struggling to evolve their thinking about earned vs. owned media, sometimes we find it’s helpful to go back to the basics of storytelling. What is the story you want to tell? Who is the best person to tell that story, and what is the audience that you’d like to hear it? Earned media is still the gold standard, but sometimes the right call is telling your story, the way you want to, and take proactive measures to get it in front of the right audience.
3. Use your news (good or bad) as an opportunity to re-tell your company’s story and set the vision for the future
This is good practice regardless of whether you’re announcing good news or bad, but the reality is that many companies miss out on the opportunity when it comes to the latter.
This is understandable from a communicator’s perspective. We’ve all been there. It can become all-consuming to make sure the communications around a sensitive corporate development, like a layoff, is perfectly worded, and executed with the proper amount of empathy.
But it’s also important to remember that every news announcement is another opportunity to re-tell your brand’s story and set the vision for the future. This is definitely a fine line to walk, but that’s where having a firm like BackBay Communications by your side can help make sure you don’t lose the forest through the trees when it comes to your company’s news.
Even though it’s a new year, 2023 is already proving to bring the same challenges as the year before as all sectors deal with the impact of a stumbling economy. But, whether operating in good markets or bad, it’s clear that when it comes to fintech, there’s always going to be opportunities to solve the hard problems facing financial institutions and the customers they’re serving. And that means many more chances for fintech companies to continue to innovate and stand apart in the market.
Making sure your communications strategy is sound can go a long way in seizing the opportunity amongst the chaos and protecting the long-term health of your company.