Should wealth managers hire journalists to ghostwrite communications content?

Here's what to consider before you decide.

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It’s increasingly important in this era of information overload for your wealth management firm to capture the attention of your target client with messaging focused on their particular needs.

They’re often searching for content to help them identify the exact nature of their wealth or asset management issue and get that problem solved fast.

In fact, that’s why most people look for content online, because they have a pain they want to be relieved. You want yours to be the wealth management practice they call when they need help.

Great editorial content produced by your firm and distributed where your target clients live online can make that possible. 

Wealth Manager Content that Resonates with Your Audiences is Imperative

It’s essential to write your wealth or asset management firm’s content in a way that resonates with wealth industry readers. It can’t be focused on your wealth industry brand’s greatness. It must be interesting, thoughtful and immediately useful.

Audiences expect your editorial content to show them quickly how you can solve their problem or meet their needs without being “salesy.” This is particularly challenging for smaller wealth management firms that don’t have an in-house communications marketing staff.

Editorial content writing may not be the best use of your advisor's or executive's time or expertise. Click To Tweet

Conversely, yours may be an institutional asset management firm with a content communications plan in place. But, as an advisor or executive, you may not be able to write the content necessary to execute the plan profitably.

Moreover, crafting editorial content might not the best use of your skill set because, if you’re like most in your role, you don’t create brand content well.

Producing content that can convert target audiences into real leads for your asset management firm is crucial. So, you’ll have to identify professionals who can help you create exceptional messaging experiences for your target audiences.

Is hiring a journalist to ghostwrite content the answer?

You know writing content that converts is important, and you want to get the right strategic content writing help. But, should you hire a journalist to ghostwrite your law firm content under an advisor or executive’s name?

It sounds like the perfect solution to your problem, especially when you believe you’ve identified the right journalist based on their background and writing samples.  

But, think very carefully before you make that decision. Some marketing tactics used incorrectly to drive credibility with wealth management firm content will kill yours. Hiring a journalist to ghostwrite advisor content may be one of those. 

When used by your wealth management firm to generate marketing collateral under a licensed wealth advisor’s name or byline, this strategy could be considered unethical. Advisors representing a journalist’s writing as their words might be plagiarism by any definition.

It’s usually fine to have wealth management firm content written by someone other than one of your advisors. However, it might be misleading to have ghostwritten content published under a licensed wealth advisor’s name. It may be best to release it under your wealth or asset management firm’s name. 

Ghostwritten content published under an advisor's byline may violate federal communications rules or regulations. Click To Tweet

Consequently, it’s important for wealth management firms to consider federal guidelines and rules on advertising and communications when creating content content communications to avoid misleading the public.

FINRA carefully outlines many of those rules on their website. But there may be other ethical principles established by professional associations for industry individuals or institutional rules under organizations like the United Nations’ Principals for Responsible Investing you’ll want to consider.

Moreover, many readers might feel deceived if they learned your wealth or asset management firm employed this tactic in its communications program.

They’d probably ask themselves, “If this advisor would use this communications tactic, what unethical tactics would they try in managing my money or assets that would cost me or my business?”

Naturally, you don’t want prospective or current clients to consider your wealth management practice so desperate for attention and revenue, that its leaders are willing to be dishonest.

Besides, who needs their firm to be the focus of activist investors, regulatory complaints or harsh publicity that could ruin the firm’s reputation or, worse, put your out of business?

Can we use journalists to ghostwrite for media outlets?

There is another type of wealth or asset management firm editorial content that’s verboten for journalists to write, even on behalf of your practice. The media calls this practice “paid media placement.” Journalists shouldn’t be hired by your firm for this purpose. What is it, exactly?

It’s when you pay a recognized journalist to use their byline to get paid assignments to write stories in your target news outlets about your firm that are favorable or promotional. Your firm edits the content to reflect its messaging goals.

But, these pieces are not necessarily objective or truthful, and a journalist’s job is to tell the truth in an unbiased fashion. This kind of writing doesn’t represent that journalistic ideal.

Paying a journalist to write a favorable story about your firm under their byline also is unethical. Click To Tweet

In this case, you’re pretending to the story source, but actually you’re the “ghostwriter.” Your firm’s advisors or executives are behind the scenes helping create the storyline that will get published under the journalist’s byline. You’re crafting the story to make sure it reads exactly the way you want it run. 

If any fact-checking gets done by the media outlet, it won’t be a problem because you created “alternative facts” for the story with the journalist’s help. 

As bad as it sounds, it’s much more common than you think. It’s a highly unethical practice in any industry but can have far reaching negative consequences for wealth or asset management firms.

If you’re found out, it might not only be bad for your firm’s credibility but a violation of federal regulations. Besides, no ethical journalist will agree to provide the service

What should financial firms do before hiring a journalist to ghostwrite?

Wealth and asset management institutions of all sizes are contracting with editorial professionals to write the most relevant content for their audiences.

Smart financial institutions know it can increase reach with well-written editorial content, and it ultimately helps their firm generate targeted leads that can be converted to billable clients.

Your firm's policies for hiring journalists to ghostwrite should be formal and in place in advance of engaging journalists to write. Click To Tweet

While hiring journalists as ghostwriters to produce editorial content for your institution can be an excellent part of your content communications strategy, you must approach it correctly.

Your firm should carefully consider how you’ll contract with journalists as strategic content writing consultants to do this work. 

In fact, your firm’s policies for doing so should be formal and in place in advance. By doing this first, your institution can leverage the expertise of a journalist offering strategic content writing services while avoiding violating federal regulations on advertising.

Your firm also will maintain its credibility with your wealth industry audience and avoid a media crisis.

(c) 2016-2019. Dahna M. Chandler for Get Money Moxie, Inc., a division of Thrive Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This article may not be reproduced in whole or in part without express written permission of the author.

Image: Pixabay.com

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