Public relations (PR) can be tricky to get right. On a recent episode of our Seed Stage podcast, we spoke to a founder who’s discovered a winning formula.
Laura Pomfret founded Financielle in 2018, alongside her co-founder and sister Holly Holland. Financielle helps women take control of their money through expert content, intuitive tools and a welcoming community.
Financielle’s approach to PR has seen them grow from an Instagram account to an app used worldwide, with Laura regularly appearing as a finance expert on TV and radio. Here are Laura’s tips for PR that gets results.
Take every opportunity
Financielle’s approach to PR is to accept opportunities, but crucially, expect nothing from them. Laura explains that this does bring potential revenue, but mainly, they do it for credibility.
“PR is sometimes about building your brand as an individual, not just a business. If I am respected and people trust what I say, then they will trust my company too. And if an appearance gets one customer, it’s worth it because of the impact it can have. So appearances are hugely credibility-focused, but if it gets one download, there’s business benefit there as well,” she said.
Taking every opportunity ultimately led to Laura’s biggest PR win to date – becoming a regular contributor on BBC’s Morning Live. She says “being respected as a personal finance expert on national TV is a big win”, but stresses that it doesn’t just happen.
“A friend who is also in the personal finance space was invited to speak on 5 Live, but couldn’t make it so asked if I could do it. I didn’t really want to go on and talk about the Budget, but I said yes. And because TV and radio producers always need quality sources, that’s how you build momentum and find yourself on TV every week.”
Bring PR to you
Impressively, Financielle have never approached anyone for PR. Laura says they have never struggled for PR opportunities – “possibly because we’re not just another middle-aged man with a hoodie on!”
“We talk about our industry on LinkedIn, Instagram and TikTok, and we have a presence on Twitter because it’s where the journalists are. Holly is great at spotting those opportunities for us, but they are always in response to a request. And it’s because when you offer a different point of view, journalists will remember you and approach you for stories.”
She elaborates that PR is about being active in the space you’re in. “If a prominent industry figure makes a comment that we can valuably respond to, we make sure we do that. Being articulate and being a thought leader on your topic is really important, and you will get inbound for that.”
Use social media to your advantage
It’s impossible to discuss PR without mentioning TikTok nowadays. For Financielle, it’s a valuable tool to learn more about their audience.
“By putting out content then measuring the engagement it gets, we’ve had the confirmation that the problem we’re solving does exist, but also we’ve got to know what our audience wants to see from us. A post about how to clear thousands of pounds of debt performed much better than just posting that the interest rate is going up, because we were explaining how to solve a problem.”
But Financielle aren’t just refining their social media posts; this user research is helping them to better understand their value proposition and how to communicate it everywhere.
“One of our selling points is that we help people to increase their net worth by £16k – but we’ve learned that our customers don’t use the phrase ‘net worth’. So we have to find another way to get the message across in a way they connect with.”
Be your own PR manager
Laura’s advice is that when you’re starting out, doing your own PR is the only way you’ll see success. That’s because founders just starting out are still discovering how their offering fits with customers.
“You can’t engage a third-party agency because if you don’t know who you are, how will they? They will do some great work but it won’t go anywhere because it’s for the wrong audience.”
She uses the example of a Financielle app feature to demonstrate the importance of listening to your customers:
“It’s called Life Admin. You put in your insurance policy details and it reminds you to renew six to eight weeks before it expires, which is the optimum time to get the best price. I think it’s so good but nobody uses it! And I could insist that we do a big campaign around it, but the fact is it’s not what the customers want.”
Tell your story
Laura says that early founders should have someone on the team who can tell the business’ story well.
“If we do a press release that we’ve launched our app, it’s a big deal to us but the average customer doesn’t care. Whereas if our piece of PR says that we’ve seen an increase in people on Universal Credit using our app to get through that difficult six-month period, that’s a story.”
For Laura and Holly, willingness to be ‘real’ and vulnerable was central to being successful. Laura adds:
“Some founders see a problem that they don’t have, but they have the knowledge and network to fix it, and that’s great. For us, being vulnerable and admitting that I’ve been that person in that financial situation lent credibility and got us to where we are.”
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