Creating interesting, relevant and timely branded content in the financial industry is tricky. You’ve got SEC regulations to navigate, a demanding audience of sophisticated investors and financial industry experts to reach, and an expert freelance financial writer who can write in layman’s terms to source. The biggest hurdle of all: navigating a complex internal chain of approval at your client’s financial firms. For time sensitive financial content marketing, approval chains can be a serious challenge. Here’s how to navigate the approval chain so legal and regulatory compliance doesn’t kill your content marketing before it ever gets published.
- Identify key stakeholders and enforce limits. How many cooks really need to be in the kitchen? You’ve got your marketing team editing for style and voice, your client’s marketing team repeating this process, a team of lawyers reading the story for compliance, your writer making revisions, your marketing team making more tweaks, the client’s team pushing back on a change, their lawyers pushing for a new submission… it’s an unnecessary zoo. Work with your client to minimize the number of people involved in the approval process.
- Avoid problem content in the first place. Good content offers valuable insights without being prescriptive. Skip the drama and stick to the script. This doesn’t mean your content needs to be boring or dry, but do avoid statements that could be interpreted as guidance. There’s a reason that lawyers begin and end most written content with a statement making clear that the proceeding/preceding content does not content legal advice: content as advice, especially in the financial world, leaves your client vulnerable to legal threats. Be wary of false advertising. One way to get around this is to talk about a client’s product/service as little as possible and instead focus on shared problems faced by your client’s target audience. Avoid making any marketing claims, never lie or exaggerate, and stick to the facts.
- Get pre-approval. Don’t just submit a story topic for approval and call it a day. Submit a detailed outline and have your client run the outline by their legal department. Yes, this can make the initial content development period longer. However, it’s better to find out in advance that story details can’t be included rather than waste your team’s time wordsmithing a paragraph that can’t even be published in the first place. And approval doesn’t stop with your topic outline. Keep in mind that many financial companies (like other brands) will need to obtain permission in order to use someone’s likeness, quote a person, or mention a third-party organization. Publishing branded content is different from journalism since branded content is considered by many to be a form of marketing. Consequently, licensing rules for marketing will apply.
While the first few pieces of financial content marketing you create for a client may be time consuming, building trust through consistent, quality content (that also meets their compliance concerns) will streamline the approval process, reduce the number of cooks in the kitchen, and also reduce the number of content revisions.
Erin M loves adding stamps to her passport, photography, scuba diving, hiking and cooking. She has snorkeled with whale sharks, won over 10 Pollie Awards (the “Oscars” of political advertising), and volunteered as an English teacher for indigenous students in Ecuador.