ViewPoint

Megan Enright
Feb 21

Putting the “Person” in Personal Finance Journalism

By Megan Enright

Last month, Version 2.0’s New York-based team attended a Personal Finance panel called “She Makes Money Make Sense.” The panel, hosted by the New York Newswomen Group and Reuters, was focused on discussing experiences related to reporting on Personal Finance. Knowledgeable panelists included Jessica Dickler, contributing writer and editor covering Personal Finance at CNBC.com, Mandi Woodruff, executive editor at LendingTree, Philana Patterson, money editor at USA TODAY, Anne Tergesen, retirement reporter at The Wall Street Journal, and moderator Lauren Young, money editor at Reuters.

As an agency with clients in the Personal Finance vertical, we are constantly interacting with reporters and stories in this space. Here are some of our key takeaways from the panel:

1. Personal Finance journalism is service journalism.

Personal Finance reporters want to educate their readers on financial situations that impact their everyday lives – from education to career to parenting choices. By covering real issues that individuals face, Personal Finance reporters are providing the resources their readers need to make important life decisions.

It’s important for PR pros to keep this need in mind when reaching out to reporters with story ideas. What issues and answers are these readers really looking for, and how can our clients be that source of information and expertise?

2. Real-life stories create the most impactful pieces.

Across the board, relatable content is more likely to capture readers’ attention. PR pros should search for angles in true stories and timely hooks that raise issues around Personal Finance decisions and incorporate that into their pitch.

Additionally, when it comes to surveys, Personal Finance reporters are interested in what people are doing, as opposed to how they’re feeling. With a bigger sample size and tangible actions, it is more likely for a reporter to pick up nuggets of your survey and include the findings in a related piece.

3. Newsrooms today are smaller – be patient!

The panel emphasized a major message throughout: give Personal Finance reporters enough lead time and be patient. Just like with PR, when news breaks, reporters must switch gears to cover whatever is trending at the time.

As newsrooms continue to condense, reporters will need more lead time (whether that be for exclusives or survey data). PR pros can do themselves and their client a favor by giving reporters enough time to include them in a story. And if you don’t hear back about a certain pitch, the reporter may have saved your contact information for the future.

My overarching takeaway? The panel on Personal Finance reporting confirmed that there is a human heartbeat at the center of even the most practical story—a good reminder for PR pros pitching complex topics for tech-driven clients.

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