Over the past 13-plus years, our team at Gregory FCA has worked alongside upstarts in the ETF business as partners in their visibility efforts. For the average boutique firm — heck, for any firm entering the ETF fray — the importance of PR cannot be overstated. If it sounds like I’m biased, it is because I am. Gone are the days when ETFs are bought, not sold. In fact, the crowded competitive landscape for new products has seen a rise in ETF closures while the swirl of politics and pandemic news has served to muffle the messages from marketers.

The need to raise your voice above the din can drive ETF issuers to consider a PR partnership, and that’s where we come in. Here are four things to evaluate when determining if you have the best fit for your ETF business’s PR needs:

  • Depth of the account team. Earned media has never been more difficult to achieve for upstarts, and media relations is a relationship game. If there are multiple people supporting your PR work and they have great relationships with the media you are targeting, there’s a good chance you’ll see better results. 
  • Is your provider too specialized? Some financial PR firms focus too much and lack experience working in the sales channels that matter to ETF issuers. Working with RIAs, banks, insurance companies, broker-dealers and other parts of the ecosystem can help your account team develop a stronger grasp of the world for which your ETFs are made. 
  • Track record of achieving results. Not every PR success ends up being a product success, and not every product success depends on good PR. But, in most cases, the likelihood of long-term product sustainability and ultimate success is correlated with the consistency and quality of visibility the ETFs receive when introduced to the market. If your target market doesn’t know that your product exists, it’s hard to get enough buying interest to generate creation units. 
  • Integrated service delivery. When launching new products, or an entirely new ETF business for that matter, time is at a premium. Taking the time out to educate multiple providers on the nuances of your strategies and to provide otherwise redundant direction to a media relations firm, a graphic design shop and a videographer can sap you of important bandwidth. Believe it or not, there are firms out there that not only excel at delivering media relations results but also have the capability to produce explainer videos, manage social media and design collateral, all under one roof.

If you review some of the success stories for products from upstart issuers, the common ingredient is very often a strong PR effort. Many of the boutique issuers rising up the ETF league tables are firms that have espoused PR (including some that are our clients and some that are not!). Take a look at Amplify, Aptus, ARK, Defiance, GraniteShares, Innovator, Pacer, ROBO Global, etc. Strong publicity is frequently a key part of the mix for these firms that didn’t derive from larger financial institutions. PR can be a difference-maker in your distribution, and finding the right PR partner is the first step in the process!